Alternative Beginnings: Cultural Significance of Paul Rudolph’s Blue Cross Blue Shield Office Building (1960)

In early 2007, Paul Rudolph’s Blue Cross Blue Shield Building in Boston, MA was permitted for demolition. CUBE design + research recognized the significance of the building and became interested in the potential of alternative preservation strategies. CUBE created a video of conceptual ideas ( to integrate the building into the new development. The plans for the development, and hence plans for demolition, have since been shelved due to the economic downturn. This blog and the website above represent the continuation of rethinking how and what we preserve in America. Below is the first entry for Rudoph’s Blue Cross Building.

Cultural Significance:

1) Pushes architectural invention forward by rethinking mechanical integration:

- created a vertical ventilation system on the building facade, making it one of the earliest precursors to the high-tech modernism style
- pushes pre-cast concrete panel technology forward to respond to new systems integration

2) Rethinks the office building space plan:
- Creates maximum interior space flexibility by pushing interior columns and ventilation system to the facade

3) Political response against the International Style and for context:
- Responding against the flat reflective-glass and steel towers of the International Style, Rudolph set out to create an expressive three-dimensional facade with more humanely scaled window proportions derived from neighboring buildings of the time. The building is the only one among its neighbors to offer public space at the ground floor.

4) A transitional building in the work of architect Paul Rudolph: his first tall building, and the first modernist building in downtown Boston

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