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Jun 07, 2017

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…

Forbes header

Image: 75 State Street. Credit: Danielle Walquis, creative commons license, modified.

Richard Fitzgerald spent many golden hours compensating for my absence of tact; in fact, it was a significant role he had to play during my tenure.

It was in the early 1980s and the Modernist-Postmodernist argument was in full swing. Architecture became a fashionable discourse, and so one of the Boston TV channels staged a walk around Boston with two architects discussing the new buildings popping up everywhere. They picked David Lee FAIA and me, I think primarily because we could be easily distinguished from each other—the tall black guy and the short white guy—and we walked and talked with the TV reporter. I can’t remember all the buildings we discussed, but the final one was 75 State Street. The reporter started by saying that he had heard that I had reservations about the design, to which I replied that the design had no redeeming social value—the then–Supreme Court definition of what constituted pornography. David jumped in with the brilliant bon mot, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you like the show?” and the reporter exclaimed, “That’s a wrap!”

Many viewers thought it was funny. The architect of record did not. Some people have no sense of humor!

Peter Forbes, 1989 BSA president