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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts wanted a modern facility to house several courts on one campus in downtown Salem, Mass., a historic but economically challenged city. Responding to the “tremendous challenges” of building in “one of the most beautiful 18th-century cities in America,” according to George Perkins ’75, P’13, Goody Clancy chose an architectural language, rhythm, and scale in keeping with the existing structures along Federal

J. M I C H A E L RUA N E JUDICIAL CENTER Salem, Mass. Architect: Goody Clancy George Perkins ’75, P’13 Builder: Daniel O’Connell’s Sons 195,000 square feet

clients — jurors, judges, detainees, among others — into one that is as dignified as possible, by allowing natural light in every courtroom, for example. “We had to play some architectural tricks to do it,” he says. “These people are there day after day, often with no choice. Natural light is a huge part of making that as good an experience as possible.”

Photos © Anton Grassl/Esto


Street. By moving and reusing a church and acquiring land from three derelict houses and a highway cloverleaf, the campus brings new life to the city center. Where the former court was bunker-like and dark, “the new building’s architectural genesis reflects, with the open glassy transparency from inside to out, the transparency of the modern court system,” Perkins says. The interior space aims to transform the experience of the court’s

a perfect building,” he adds. About the Congress Street elevation, for example: “Brutal is too kind a word,” he admits.        This capacity to find beauty in Brutalism, a style that has long been a punching bag of public opinion, has been particularly useful in his work at Boston-based architectural firm Goody Clancy, which he joined in 1999. His recent projects have included new buildings at UMass Boston and Holyoke Community College, both campuses built in the postwar period in the Brutalist style. “They were not designed in the most sensitive manner,” Perkins concedes, “but they did have many wonderful elements.” Leveraging the better qualities of these postwar facilities, or looking deeply at what they offer, has been a “fun challenge,” he says.

       In the case of Holyoke, the existing campus presented a series of low-slung, modern concrete buildings around a central courtyard. “There’s a windswept feeling to the courtyard,” Perkins says, a bit reminiscent of City Hall Plaza, “but it also happens to be an effective social magnet that really unifies that campus.” The new structure that Perkins helped design for Goody Clancy, the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development, serves as the new entrance to that courtyard—literally the new gateway—capitalizing on its functionality but improving on the form. In contrast to the concrete structures around it, hulking and heavy, the new building is glassy and inviting. Windows allow you to look inside and see human beings occupying the space. “It helps realize the potential 31

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‘The goal of architecture is not to celebrate genius or status, but to give people buildings that shelter and delight.’ — Chris Rowe

CA Magazine Spring 2014 Issue  
CA Magazine Spring 2014 Issue