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church condo

Behold the condo renovation of the Holy Trinity German Church and Rectory in Boston’s South End designed by Finegold Alexander & Associates for developer New Boston Ventures. It was approved a few weeks ago by the Boston redevelopment agency.

Granted, the task does raise the question: just how do you cram 33 condo units to a structure built for an entirely different sort of human activity. But the result appears to be a church with an  insecticide factory grafted onto the roof.

You must appreciate the symbolism too: church architecture always soars skyward, expressed in steeples, towers, finials, etc., yet the condo part of the building just meets the sky with a SPLAT! As in, our aspirations stop with the humdrum activities of condo life: eating the take-out Kung Po chicken, taking a shower, channel surfing.

The church stood the test of time architecturally, though the programming (prayer, etc) kind of petered out.
How will the glass Precondo addition stand the test of time, and what might it become?

Shout-out to John McConnell for nominating this humdinger.

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

20 Responses to “July 2015”

  1. peakfuture July 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    The best phrase that comes to mind here is ‘architectural sacrilege’. What a travesty.

    I do wonder how this will hold up over time, especially with snow loads on a flat roof.

  2. Zarko Straadi July 3, 2015 at 9:09 pm #


    –said by one of the more upscale “glass office box” style Borg cubes, shortly prior to infesting the church.

    So, why exactly, must “redevelopment” mean “add a glass office box tumor” rather than, say, “let somebody buy the church as is and turn it into an awesome Gothic pub?”

    Also, the fact that the architects *forgot to render* whatever building that’s supposed to be to the left and behind the church (OMG! The sky just stops! I think the Matrix is about to crash!) doesn’t exactly lend a lot of confidence in the firm’s capabilities.

  3. reader44 July 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    looks like a giant glass milk crate on top — reminds me of a DIY cargo bike a friend made. . . . and a flat roof in Boston — were architects anywhere near Boston last winter?

  4. reader44 July 3, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

    from the Boston Globe comments: “How else could this stunningly ugly, ill-conceived and ill-proportioned design have gotten approved? As I said when the original proposal was reported, it looks like a gothic church getting humped by a giant toaster.”

  5. thirdspace July 4, 2015 at 4:00 am #

    I had worked in this church about 8 years ago as a counselor. The rectory was being used as transitional housing for homeless youth. I remember this block being very ghetto in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Even when I was working in the crumbling but still very sturdy and beautiful church there was a plenty of rough trade happening in the very ugly parking lot depicted as a lawn with an Orion’s belt of trees in the above image. The church was sold like so much of the Archdiocese of Boston’s real estate holdings to help fund the Catholic church’s legal fees from the pedophile priest scandal. My family’s own suburban multigenerational Lithuanian church was also sold and converted to condos in the last decade…

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  6. swhite July 4, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Not being too architecturally sensitive, I don’t always see the problems with your eyesores. But I do see it clearly in your June and July offerings. Interestingly, the word “sacrilege” is the first thing that came to my mind also, when I saw the church.

    My own small home town in central Minnesota has a classic sturdy stone church, and its fate was of some concern at one point when the diocese considered combining all the Catholic churches in the area into a mega-church in the country that everyone would have to drive to. I think those plans are off the table for now.

    Off-topic, when I was a kid half a century ago, it was a mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass. I wonder how that fits with the placement of a church that a person can’t get to unless he can drive a car (in keeping with your theme of the demise of motoring).

  7. wirespeed July 4, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    The geese flying overhead in V formation is a nice touch.

  8. Yuri Sowryteski July 4, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

    Geeze, Jim, it’s SOUTHY – whaaddaya want, fer krikesakes?

    I like the geese too, but a 757 from Logan is what would really make it sweet.

  9. jayrome July 5, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    Oo Time to plant more Boston Ivy and Virginia Creeper!

  10. MDG July 6, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Incredibly, this is a trend. Churches, especially those with declining memberships, are selling their air space to do exactly what is pictured here: develop housing above the church building. The report I heard just a few days ago said that while people in the neighborhood argued strenuously against something that was neither zoned for nor appropriate for the neighborhood, the Church prevailed on the (BS) argument that the developer was going to include some reduced-cost housing among the new units. That’s the kind of cover story that local politicians always cite when giving developers exactly what they want.

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  11. thirdspace July 6, 2015 at 12:36 pm #


    Just a point of clarity… the church is in the South End of Boston, a downtown neighborhood that does abut South Boston but is most definitely a separate and distinct neighborhood (I know it is confusing but this is a city where East Boston is North of Downtown and West Roxbury does not border Roxbury at all…). The church is bound by a sub-level highway and service roads to the North, a huge Asian supermarket is directly behind it, and there is a large public housing project across the street. At the end of the block there are some mixed use buildings and a locally famous community garden (decades old…). Interestingly, the housing project seemed to be mostly occupied by African Americans and Asians (China Town is just across the aforementioned highway) but the complexion of the people in the above artist rendering does not seem to reflect this reality.

  12. JW July 8, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Off-topic but related. The concept some genius architects in Australia have come up with.


  13. jayrome July 8, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    I forgot to mention planting poison ivy on the building too.
    Ya know they could have dismantled the church and rectory just for the stone, recycled in a new solid structure. What a waste!

  14. Johnny Panic July 9, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Wait. Doesn’t the Catholic Church put deed restrictions banning “profane use” when it sells its property? I guess abortion is no longer considered “profane use” by the Church.

  15. Ishabaka July 15, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

    Perhaps your church must endure unnatural carnal knowledge from a toaster when your priests have engaged in unnatural carnal knowledge with young boys….

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  16. Greg Knepp July 16, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Take a close look; interestingly, the architect attempted to carry on the Gothic motif in the window treatment, the general color of the structure, and a base to the addition that attempts to blend with the buttresses.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it could have been worse. The architect must feel very conflicted by the whole affair – he’s obviously a talented and sensitive individual. Designers of all sorts are faced with this shit all the time. The need to put food on the table usually prevails.

  17. Dubs July 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Wow! Just for a moment think of the number of people with six-or-more-figure salaries who, 1) drew up that monstrosity, 2) “approved” it, and 3) will spend money to live there!

    That’s a whole lot of clusterfuck!

    And those are the so-called successful ones. (Or one’s massively ‘leveraged’.) Add in the numbers of cretins living in other ‘glass houses’, and you’ve got…. Oh, James has already called it. A clusterfuck nation.

  18. ChartWord July 31, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    here’s a potential candidate for next month


    “A giant in London is melting cars, frying bike seats, and scorching sidewalks.

    But it’s not Godzilla.

    It’s a “Walkie Talkie” — the nickname for the 38-story skyscraper on Fenchurch Street in central London.

    The glare reflected from the glass-fronted building was so strong that people changed its name to “death ray” skyscraper.”

  19. Mies August 3, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    Still much better than this:


  20. pequiste August 13, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    All your base are belong to us.

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