Expeditions in Research vol. 2

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how I was obsessed with Copley Square, Raymond Loewy, and Edith Hand. On all those fronts I’m working with the National Archives and the Library of Congress to organize their papers so I can make a trip to review them…probably not so soon, but within the next few months.

It’s very excited to work with people who get very excited about research and using their archives.

Here’s some more Boston items, and an old house with a convoluted past.

The Big Dig

You should be listening to WGBH’s podcast about Boston’s Big Dig – it’s a multi-part podcast which stretches all the way back to the 1970’s freeway revolt, and sets the stage for why and how the Big Dig came about.

I lived in Boston during the Dig, and I worked near Fort Point channel, so I was able to daily watch the construction workers build the immersion tunnels, and then watched them float it out in the the water. I also was able to drive on the the elevated Central Artery – which I’m glad is now more, but I wish that instead of giant surface roads, the city chose to rebuild the urban fabric which was destroyed by the central artery.

Listen via Apple, Spotify, or Google

Boston Government Service Center

Speaking of urban renewal, I rewatched the Departed and the Boston Government Service Center prominently featured as a set piece. It was designed by enigmatic Mid Century Modernist Paul Rudolph as part of a larger urban renewal of the civic center area. It’s both amazing, and pretty terrifying piece of work. It’s also been fairly empty for some time, and there’s been rumblings of tearing it down or redeveloping it.


I also was able to conduct an interview with the head of the Edith Farnsworth house (wikipedia), which was both a treat and also presents an editing conundrum since there is so much good there that it could be a solid hour pod or I will have to break it up.

One thing to note about this house: Mies was…difficult to work with and acted as the contractor to build the house. Which I didn’t know, and it’s no wonder that it went so over budget. Architects generally shouldn’t be their own contractor. And the story of the house got twisted up in some unfortunate mid century patriarchy, with too much speculator of who has what type of relationship with whom.