Exemplary Urban Facades
Boston is known for the consistent facades that define the streets in historic residential neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, the Back Bay, and the South End. But less noticed is the superb sequence of buildings that run along the west side of Washington Street from Bromfield Street to Temple Street in Downtown Crossing. The mostly late-19th and early 20th century eight-story terracotta buildings remind me of the façades that line the Grand Place in Brussels. The coherence of the buildings is more apparent now that the Filene’s block has been hollowed out. The giant void across from the buildings has opened up views of the facades from more vantage points and provided more opportunities for the sun to rake across the heavily modeled spandrels and window frames. Except for a few modern and undistinguished exceptions in this street wall, perhaps this entire row of buildings should be landmarked.