Boston.com is reporting that City Hall has been dubbed the world’s ugliest building. And yes, it’s an unwholesome grey blob that looks kind of like an oil platform from Star Wars. And the word “brutalist” is perhaps the least-appealing name for a movement of architecture, even if it actually refers to the “rawness” of the concrete (in French, béton brut). And City Hall Plaza is almost uniquely unwelcoming for anything but a large-scale political rally, circus, or riot.
But City Hall does look pretty awesome from up on Beacon Hill, on a sunny day, when the light striking it turns gold and you can see the water behind it.
Which, if you think about it, is almost certainly the angle you’d have if you stood at a conference table with an architectural model of city hall on it. It would have looked great at those pitch meetings. It just doesn’t work as well for anyone who has to beside its grey eminence on a windswept plaza turning their collars against the chill rushing between the skyscrapers and the sea.