chair Phil Casey AIA
principal, CBT Architects
David Lee FAIA
partner, Stull and Lee
principal, Klopfer Martin
Dan Peruzzi AIA
principal, Margulies Peruzzi Architects
design partner and technical director, Aamodt/Plumb Architects
chief of Arts and Culture, City of Boston
Gumpertz & Heger
assistant professor, Wentworth Institute of Technology
Corey Zehngebot AIA
Boston Redevelopment Authority
executive arts editor for WGBH’s Open Studio and
Submitted by Philip J. Casey, 2015 jury chair
It has been a wonderful experience to serve on the 2015 Harleston Parker Medal jury and to collaborate with the nine other distinguished jurors to select “the most beautiful building” in the greater Boston area in the last ten years. This year, the jury had both the joy and responsibility of reviewing and narrowing nearly 100 creative and compelling entries to just four finalists and a single awardee.
To accomplish this task, the jury spent eight months and three meetings studying, discussing, and visiting an impressive breadth of projects. Entries ranged in type and scale and included transportation centers, libraries, museums, cultural spaces, schools, hospitals, offices, retail shops, lounges, single and multi-family homes as well as landscape architecture projects.
After carefully considering each project, the jury identified the following four finalists in September: Boston Public Library, East Boston Branch; Field Elementary School in Weston, MA; Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley, MA and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Addition in Boston, MA.
In order to select the most deserving awardee of this year’s Harleston Parker Medal the jury spent a great deal of time developing a communal understanding of the meaning and nature of beauty as it relates to architecture. However, all jurors simultaneously acknowledged that beauty is an individual experience.
The jury considered the various aspects of aesthetic beauty: the beautiful singular moment, gradual beauty, the layered experience of beauty, the beauty of craft and the beauty of form. However, to only consider aesthetic beauty would render architecture a piece of visual art when it is in fact inherently interactive and useful. The jury therefore considered how program, process, and people influence the beauty of place. Such stories, and their ties to local communities, cultures, and contexts often enhance both the experience and beauty of a place or space.
At its core, beautiful architecture moves you. Both aesthetics and stories inform the ability of a piece of architecture to elicit a powerful emotional response–the most honest and meaningful measure of beauty. In this way, beauty, while hard to define, is easy to perceive. The jury therefore relied on site tours to distinguish between the various types of beauty displayed by all four of the finalists selected.
After much deliberation and with great respect for all four projects, the jury selected The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Addition as the recipient of this year’s Harleston Parker Medal for its unparalleled ability to realize beauty at all scales. However, the jury is grateful for all of the finalists’ projects which also celebrated the beauty of architecture at a variety of different and memorable scales.