Christian Science Church Center


The Christian Science Church Center has many companion projects in a city that is rapidly adding contemporary style to historic charm. Boston has changed its topographical face many times in the last three centuries. But in just the last decade the emphasis in the United States on urban renewal has brought a wave of new building to the city.

The following excerpts from the new second edition of Boston: A Topographical History (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) by Walter Muir Whitehill describe the Church Center and its relation to the total renewal of the city. Mr. Whitehill is Director of Boston's Athenaeum library and a recognized authority on the history and architecture of the city. He writes: "Born in China, I. M. Pei had come to Boston in 1935 to study at the MIT School of Architecture during the days of Dean William Emerson, from his student days, he had acquired a singular appreciation of the essential qualities of the earlier life and architecture of the city. He wished not only to preserve the significant historic buildings in the area, but to create spaces in which immense new buildings might be placed in harmonious relation to their older neighbors.....

"The hope that I expressed a decade ago that with the completion of the Prudential Center 'the contagion of improvement may redeem many of the lost opportunities of Huntington and Massachusetts Avenues' is already being realized through the imaginative and daring plans of the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Having foresightedly acquired adjacent buildings over the years, the Church commissioned I. M. Pei and [Partners] in 1963 to make a comprehensive planning study of some thirty acres in the Huntington and Massachusetts Avenues area that would include not only the needs of the Church but the improvement of life in general in that part of Boston. . . ." (The Church Center covers a 15-acre area. The 16-acre perimeter development will be financed, built, and operated by private developers and not the Church. See Report No. 12 in the March 23, 1968, issue of the Sentinel.)

April 5, 1969

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