City of Boston
Yugon Kim, founding owner and partner, IKD; associate and director, TSKP Architects Boston
Karin Goodfellow, director, Boston Art Commission
Cynthia Smith FASLA, vice president and principal, Halvorson Design Partnership
Anne-Sophie Divenyi AIA, senior capital project manager, Harvard University, Office of Physical Resources and Planning
Malia Lazu, president, EpiCenter Community
Lee Moreau AIA, principal, Continuum
Alexa Pinard, urban designer, Boston Planning & Development Agency
Dante Ramos, Ideas editor, The Boston Globe
Kishore Varanasi, principal, CBT Architects
Richard A. Yeager AIA, assistant director of planning and design, Boston College
The diversity of juror backgrounds and experiences led to unexpected and challenging subject matter that was a refreshing reminder of dialogue that is often missing in the industry. We examined our biases about individual building typologies and preconceived notions of “timelessness” or “gorgeousness.” Throughout our deliberations, we fostered an educative process of consensus rather than a narrowing process of elimination.
As every Harleston Parker jury before us has done, we vigorously debated the elemental qualities that define beauty. We also considered what message our selection might send about the power of architecture to people who don’t care about it in the same way that our design community cares; what it might say about the City of Boston—it was not lost on us that two of the finalists were connected to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The fact that the Harleston Parker Medal was also originally intended to raise public awareness about the overall quality of architecture in Boston brought clarity to the process. Through this lens of public education, the jury evaluated each project for both tangible and intangible attributes related to concept, craft, context, and emotive impact.
After much discussion, the jury determined that the semifinalist projects not only met all the foundational qualities of beauty set forth by the jury, but also demonstrated the capacity to increase the public’s awareness about architecture’s value. Each is a superlative example of design excellence in Greater Boston. As we narrowed our pool of nominees, we gravitated toward work that felt fully realized, redolent with a sense of urgency beyond the physical. Again and again we asked, “Beautiful for whom?”
The Harleston Parker Medal award was established in 1921 by J. Harleston Parker in memory of his father. The first award was granted by the Boston Society of Architects/AIA (BSA) in 1923. The intent of the award is to acknowledge the most beautiful piece of architecture, building, monument, or structure within the City of Boston or Metropolitan Parks District limits built within the last 10 years. Additional goals of the award were not originally identified, but the BSA’s 1921 interpretation stated that the award would “stimulate the appreciation of good architecture by the public and give public recognition by the city to architects who have succeeded in doing…exceptionally good work.”
The jury of 10 individuals represents a cross section of the broader design community, consisting of practitioners, developers, public officials, and journalists. Eligible projects may be of any scale, program, or level of public visibility. They may be new or rehabilitated. They must have been completed within 10 years of their first year of nomination. Anyone may nominate any eligible building, including their own. Once nominated, structures are considered by subsequent juries until they are awarded or ruled out by the 10-year-from-completion eligibility requirement.
In 2017, the jury reviewed 84 projects. Jurors met three times over three months before selecting these finalist projects. During deliberations following site visits to the finalist projects in September, the 2017 recipient of the Harleston Parker Medal was selected. The winning project was announced on January 18, 2017 at the 7th Annual BSA Design Awards Gala.