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Kallmann McKinnell and Knowles' Boston City Hall faces wrecking ball

One of America's leading examples of Brutalist architecture, Kallmann McKinnell and Knowles' Boston City Hall, is under threat once again.

City officials in the Massachusetts capital are thought to be pushing ahead with plans for a new city hall, first put forward in 1998, and this could see the demolition of one of the USA's Modernist masterpieces.

Completed in 1968, Kallmann McKinnell and Knowles' creation has been controversial ever since its doors first opened, but while many praise the Brutalist building, there are also many detractors, particularly Boston's Mayor Thomas Menino.

Menino is leading the call for demolition, citing the building's massive scale and labyrinthine interiors as being unwelcoming and inefficient.

A hearing has been scheduled that will include the Boston Landmarks Commission, which will look at how the building's exterior and main lobby could be saved by declaring it as a local landmark.

Should this fail, the building could qualify for National Landmark Status or make the National Register of Historic Places.

While neither would prevent demolition, it would, according to preservation advocate Gary Wolf who spoke to the Architectural Record, 'make it challenging from a PR standpoint.'

It is just the latest in a long line of Modernist buildings in the US that have been threatened by developers' plans.

Paul Rudolph's nearby Boston tower, the Blue Shield building, has also been earmarked for the wrecking ball to make way for an 80-storey Renzo Piano skyscraper.

by Richard Vaughan

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