Cities: Bold Bastion

Architects these days get plenty of practice designing schools, office skyscrapers, hotels, apartment houses and churches. They are almost never called on to design city halls—and when they are, the bureaucratic clients, scared of offending constituents with something daring, usually settle for an ordinary, commercial-looking structure.

Boston has been braver. Five years ago it embarked on a project to demolish its seamy Scollay Square area and replace it with a 60-acre, twelve-building Government Center. The focus of the whole complex, according to the site plan drawn up by I. M. Pei & Associates, was to be a brand new city...

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