Welcome to the Archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The purpose of this online database is to function as a tool for scholars, students, architects, preservationists, journalists and other interested parties. The archive consists of photographs, slides, articles and publications from Rudolph’s lifetime; physical drawings and models; personal photos and memorabilia; and contemporary photographs and articles.

Image rights are the responsibility of the user. Unless otherwise noted, images should be credited to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Please speak with a representative of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation before publishing photographs. Drawings, sketches and other materials at the Library of Congress are in the public domain, however the digital scan or photograph of the item still belongs to its creator. The copyright of any other items remains with the estate of Paul Rudolph and Ernst Wagner, founder of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Boston Government Service Center.jpg

Address: 25 Staniford Street
City: Boston
State: Massachusetts
Zip Code: 02114
Nation: United States
Google Maps Address: 42.36278, -71.06279

Type: Government
Status: Built

Date(s): 1962
Site Area: 363,781 s.f.
Floor Area:
Floors (Above Ground):
Building Cost:

Client: Boston Redevelopment Authority
Architect: Paul Rudolph
Associate Architect: Pederson & Tilney (Massachusetts Health, Education & Wellness Building); Desmond & Lord (Mental Health Center); Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbott (Division of Employment Security)


Boston Government Services Center

Too many specialists and bureaucrats with overlapping authority created a vacuum which left the way open for an idea. Six years later that idea is taking form. Four architects welded their building into a single whole, using the following criteria:
1. The space of Boston’s irregular streets should be defined by placing building parallel to them.
2. The irregular intersection of streets should be defined by setting the building back from the curb line to form small plazas.
3. All buildings should be entered through a central pedestrian courtyard.
4. The buildings paralleling the streets should be five to seven storeys high, conforming roughly with the building height across the street.
5. There should be one multi-storey building to announce the government center from a great distance and to allow the scale of the complex to hold its own with tall adjacent buildings.
6. The low buildings should have the pedestrian court at a small intimate scale achieved by stepping back the walls of the low buildings at the courtyard side.
7. The scale of the street facade should be much greater because of the automobiles
8. Regular bays at the street with columns 60 to 70 ft. in height should be utilized, but the more intimate scale of the courtyard should have columns corresponding to the series of one-storey high stepping facades.
9. The multi-storey building should act as a pivoting point at the entry to the plaza and serve as its principal spatial element.
10. All architects should use the same material (concrete) and similar fenestration.
— Paul Rudolph in Moholy-Nagy, Sibyl, and Gerhard Schwab. The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. New York: Praeger, 1970. P. 94
I wanted to hollow out a concavity at the bottom of Beacon Hill, a spiraling space like a conch in negative relation to the convex dome of the State Capitol on top of the hill. I wanted it to wrap around a tower which turned and was not only visible in its upward thrust but penetrating visibly below the ground.
— Paul Rudolph in Black, Carl John. "A Vision of Human Space: Paul Rudolph: Boston State Service Center." Architectural Record 154 (July 1973): p. 106
The generating ideas of most traditional cities are pedestrian and vehicular circulation, streets, squares, terminuses, with their space clearly defined by buildings. This means linked buildings united to form comprehensible exterior spaces. The Boston Government Service Center is the opposite of Le Corbusier’s dictum “down with the street.” It started with three separate buildings, their clients, architects and methods of financing. We didn’t build three separate buildings, as others had proposed, but one continuous building which defined the street, formed a pedestrian plaza, and utilized a multi-storied building (not yet built) to announce the development from a great distance. The scale of the lower buildings was heightened at the exterior perimeter (street) so that it read in conjunction with automobile traffic (columns 60-70 feet high plus toilet and stair cores at the corners were used). The scale at the plaza was much more intimate using stepped floors which revealed each floor level, making a bowl of space. As one approaches the stepped six-story-high building it reduces itself to only one story. Since the high-rise building is an integral part of the whole, it calls for a particular kind of high-rise building.

You would prefer to finish the project yourself?

The architect must understand the role the multi-storied building plays in the ensemble. The multi-storied building was designed as a cluster of pivoting shafts, each turning at the corners so that it leads the pedestrian into the plaza. It was not just another skyscraper. The ensemble illustrates partially the principles of a mega structure. It is multi-functional; it accepts the car by defining the space of the street plus treating the garage as an entrance to the complex; it is integrated into the surrounding fabric (at the street intersections there are small piazzas, one of Boston’s traditions). The bowl of the plaza is the counterpart of Beacon Hill and its state house one block away. It has nothing to do with stylistic elements (you could add classical details to the columns and cornices and it wouldn’t matter very much – I don’t know what could happen at the multi-storied building). When finished properly it will be “a place.”
— Paul Rudolph in Davern, Jeanne M. "A Conversation with Paul Rudolph." Architectural Record 170 (March 1982): 90-97.

DRAWINGS - Design Drawings / Renderings

DRAWINGS - Construction Drawings

DRAWINGS - Shop Drawings

PHOTOS - Project Model

PHOTOS - During Construction

PHOTOS - Completed Project

PHOTOS - Current Conditions



“Another major project for Boston’s government service center.” Architecture and Urbanism 80 (July 1977): 62-64.

Pasnik, Mark, "Concrete Therapy: Rudolph's Architecture of Mental Health", Harvard Design Magazine, No. 40, Spring/Summer 2015

Pasnik, Mark; Grimley, Chris; Kubo, Michael, "Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston", Monacelli Press, New York, 2015, pages 118-129