Ted Williams Harbor Tunnel Ventilation Building #7

TAMS, Wallace Floyd, Stull and Lee, URS, and Gannett Flemming, 1997

Harleston Parker Medal, 1999

This facility serves as one of several colossal lungs for the new Boston harbor tunnel. Individual ventilation buildings were designed by different architectural firms based on an architectural language that they developed together.

The expression of the building is a direct reflection of its mechanistic purpose, with the building divided into two wings: the exhaust air section of 14 fans and stacks, and the supply air section with 10 louvered fresh air fans. But the elements have been orchestrated with a grace and power reminiscent of the monumental power plants of the early 20th century. Finely scale details are played off the repeating rhythms of concrete and metal panels as canted vent tops reach up to the sky.

From the HPM jury comments:

“Sewage treatment plants, transportation exchanges and tunnel vents need to be seen by the public as critical components of the urban environment, in which the profession of architecture can contribute, demonstrate its excellence, and be rewarded for doing so. The Vent Building stands as a striking modernist sculpture, an example of what an enlightened public agency can achieve for the public through good design.”

Images: ©Peter Vanderwarker