Boston's Top 10 Buildings in the 21st Century

Selected by Susan and Michael Southworth, authors of AIA Guide Boston

First published in 1984, and updated twice since then, Susan and Michael Southworth’s AIA Guide to Boston contains detailed descriptions of the history and architectural significance of more than 600 buildings throughout Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Recently, at RECORD’s request, the authors selected their favorite buildings. They narrowed their selection to projects completed during the 21st century, which we present below in chronological order. The full guide is available, for purchase, at the Boston Society of Architects’ online bookstore at store.architects.org. Click on the player to hear Michael Southworth describe each project.

Text by Susan and Michael Southworth; Audio excerpts produced by James Murdock.

20 Unity Court

20 Unity Court
LDA Architects, completed 2000
Retaining the facade along a narrow byway, a former tenement building has been exploded into a dramatic glass townhouse with multistory spaces and spectacular views of Old North Church. Photo © Michael Southworth

(90 sec.)
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Chilled Water Plant Expansion at MIT

Chilled Water Plant Expansion at MIT
Ellenzweig Associates, completed 2001
Pipes and machines are showcased as industrial sculpture behind a glass wall. Photo © Michael Southworth

(36 sec.)
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MBTA Traction Power Substation

MBTA Traction Power Substation
Ellenzweig Associates, completed 2003
A granite, limestone, and aluminum facade masks major power and ventilation equipment, discreetly fitting into its financial district context. Photo © Michael Southworth

(42 sec.)
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Genzyme Center, by Behnisch Architects

Genzyme Center
Behnisch Architects, completed 2003
This cutting-edge green building employs heliostatic harvesting of daylight, waterless urinals, a green roof that recycles rain water, recycled and locally sourced building materials, and sustainable furnishings—all built on a brown field site. Photo © Anton Grassi

(77 sec.)

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RECORD’s own coverage

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge
Christian Menn, completed 2003
The widest cable-stayed bridge in the world provides a striking entrance to Boston. The 270-foot slingshot towers recall the nearby Bunker Hill obelisk. Photo © Michael Southworth

(52 sec.)
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Badger-Rosen SquashBusters

Badger-Rosen SquashBusters
Childs, Bertman, Tseckares, completed 2003
The silver curving structure on pilotis houses an innovative athletic program for at-risk youth. Photo © Michael Southworth

(40 sec.)
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Artists for Humanity EpiCenter

Artists for Humanity EpiCenter
Arrowstreet, completed 2004
At-risk youth learn business and art in one of the greenest buildings in the country. Sustainable features include rainwater harvesting, use of recycled and salvaged materials, natural cooling via a night airshaft, and photovoltaic energy production. Photo © Richard Mandelkorn

(114 sec.)
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Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information, and Intelligence Sciences at MIT

Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information, and Intelligence Sciences at MIT
Gehry Partners with Cannon Design, completed in 2004
Three acres of jumbled, folded, falling planes of stainless steel, titanium, multicolor enamel, and brick wrap the chaotic facade of two U-shaped towers. Inside, a winding “student street” invites accidental cross pollination between different disciplines. Photo © Peter Vanderwarker

(103 sec.)
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Simmons Hall at MIT

Simmons Hall at MIT
Stephen Holl with Perry Dean Rogers Partners, completed 2005
Almost pure sculpture, a perforated facade of sanded aluminum wraps three 10-story towers. Color within the perforations represents structural loads: red is high, yellow is medium, and blue is low. Photo © Paul Warchol

(122 sec.)
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Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex at MIT

Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex at MIT
Charles Correa with Goody, Clancy & Associates, completed 2005
The sober yet graceful structure is a reaction to the hyper-active Stata Center across the street. Built over an active rail corridor, elaborate engineering was required to house vibration-free labs for neuroscientists, computer scientists, and biologists. Photo © Anton Grassl/Esto

(85 sec.)
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