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Around Boston: Louis Kahn, Norman Foster, H.H. Richardson, More!

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In each edition of Site Seeing, we'll be taking a look at architectural sights within easy driving distance of major cities. Know of an overlooked masterpiece in your area? Please pass it along.

Photos: Flickr via Arch Daily

Given its age and prosperous history, there are plenty of architectural gems in and around Boston, Mass., but if we had just one day in the city, here are the five spots we would check out. Up first is the Louis Kahn-designed Class of 1945 Library at Phillips Exeter Academy, just an hour's drive north of Boston in Exeter, N.H. Completed in 1971, the library was awarded the AIA's prestigious Twenty-five Year Award in 1997. It is notable for its use of traditional materials like red brick—common in the campus's Neo-Georgian architecture—while incorporating modernist conceptions of space. The inner atrium, with its three-story concrete portals, massive ceiling supports, and clerestory windows is among the single most dramatic spaces produced by Kahn during his career.

? On the hour and a half drive south from Exeter to North Easton, Mass., take the time to admire Boston's finally-completed "Big Dig" project that rerouted a highway under the city, eased congestion, and—as the most expensive highway project in American history—cost an astonishing $22B. But doesn't the twin-spired Zakim Bridge look nice! Anyway, in North Easton is the Ames Gate Lodge, an imposing field stone and brownstone archway designed by the Romanesque Revival architect H.H. Richardson. Built to mark the entryway to the estate of railroad heir Frederick Lothrop Ames, the Gate Lodge was completed in 1881 and complemented landscaping by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The building is cited as an influence on the work of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright—who praised its roof—as well as on then-Richardson underlings Stanford White and Charles McKim. Today, the Gate Lodge remains privately owned by the Ames family and off limits to visitors, but much of the exterior is visible from the street.

? For an up-close, publicly-accessible look at top notch landscape design, head to the renowned Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. The 174-acre park-like burial ground—designed primarily by the very Brahmin sounding trio of Jacob Bigelow, Alexander Scammel Wadsworth, and Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn—was the first "garden cemetery" in the United States. Where previously people had been laid to rest in church yards and small family plots, Mount Auburn provided more grandiose accommodations for the deceased. Since it opened in 1831, the cemetery has been the final resting place of many influential Bostonians, including poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, and the zany inventor/architect Buckminster Fuller. Mount Auburn also reversed the East-to-West flow of influence in landscape architecture, as it reportedly inspired London's Abney Park Cemetery.

? Back across the Charles River in Boston proper, some younger architecture has so far inspired what would delicately be referred to as "mixed" reviews. The Brutalist design for Boston's City Hall initially received praise for its unconventional design, but with time, many locals have come to detest the Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles design. Mayor Tom Menino publicly advocated its demolition and even non-residents think the concrete construction is unsightly. In 2008, the building ranked #1 in a list of the "World's Top 10 Ugliest Buildings." Now that's something worth seeing first hand.

? One of the newest and most visible additions to Boston's architectural canon is the new Art of the Americas addition to the Museum of Fine Arts. Designed by starchitect Norman Foster and his firm Foster+Partners, the 133,500-square-foot expansion houses 53 galleries, cost $345M, and has been 11 years in the making. With just six-months of public access under its belt, the Foster design might be a bit too young to pass judgement on just yet.
· AD Classics: Exeter Library (Class of 1945 Library) / Louis Kahn [Arch Daily]
· Design of the Library [Phillips Exeter Academy]
· Mount Auburn Cemetery [official site]
· Boston City Hall tops ugliest-building list [Boston Globe]
· Boston City Hall: World's #1 Ugliest Building? [AT]
· Art review: The Art of the Americas wing at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston [LAT]