Introduction

ICA Profile Backhoes near the ICA

The Boston Seaport District is undergoing a major process of urban renewal.  Today, industrial cranes define the skyline more than the actual buildings.

Partitioning the skyline of the historic Boston Seaport district, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) frames a red gabled-building in the distance.  The ICA ensconces this much less new-age structure, isolating it in the eye of the viewer, and from this angle the disparity between the two styles architecture could not be more glaring.  While the stereotypical conception of the New England environment is populated with buildings like the red one, in the Seaport District, the red building seems increasingly the exception rather than the standard.  The abundance of cranes and backhoes imprint themselves on the urban landscape as the fomenters of aesthetic revolution by day and as lifeless monuments to the mechanical form by dusk.  Depending on where one stands, and how one looks, the inscription of older eras on the urban palimpsest are being systematically wiped away, in an effort that the City of Boston calls in their "Open Space Plan 2008-2014," a mission to build “the next great space.”  This dialogue about the “continuing revitalization of Boston Harbor’s open space and Harborwalk systems,” the ICA at its vanguard, has a distinct feel of gentrification about it, but this increasingly empty term does not suffice as an adequate explanation.  The Seaport District is changing as a result of the aesthetic demands of modernity, a process certainly begun by the rich, but at some point it gained a life force of its own.

Introduction