Blue Cross Blue Shield Building Study Report
The building at 133 Federal Street, colloquially known as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building, is significant for its associations with the urban renewal movement that took place in Boston’s core downtown area in the 1950s and 1960s. It was the first new building to be erected in the Central Business District since the 1920s, and was one of the earliest buildings erected in Boston in the Brutalist style. It is one of three buildings in Boston designed by Paul Rudolph, and it is especially notable as his first tall building and an early prototype of the idiosyncratic design philosophies that would then influence the remainder of his impactful career. Its distinctive form with Y-shaped, precast-concrete piers and columns, large white quartz aggregate, and an innovative engineering and HVAC system hidden within the nonstructural columns were all a direct challenge to the glass curtain wall, and pushed the boundaries of contemporary architectural discourse. The building contributes to Boston’s collection of Brutalist architecture which transformed the city in the 1960s and 1970s, and represents the resulting shift in the design idiom of Boston and the United States from the International style to postmodernism.
The recent threats to Rudolph’s diminishing body of work, combined with the 2009 Boston Landmarks Commission’s survey update of cultural and architectural resources in Boston’s Central Business District which determined that the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, inspired the petition for designation.
This study report contains Standards and Criteria which have been prepared to guide future physical changes to the property in order to protect its integrity and character.
(Report amended as of February 16, 2024)
The proposed designation will be discussed and voted upon at a public hearing on February 27, 2024. Please look for the meeting notice in the public notices section of our website.