architecture of the 2010s

These are brand-new or planned buildings within walking distance of our home in Cambridge, MA.

I see this kind of design all over Boston and have also noticed it as far away as Kyiv. The typical urban architecture of our decade seems as distinctive as that of the 1890s or the 1930s.

The facades are divided into rectilinear panels of various sizes, avoiding regular patterns and symmetry. To differentiate the panels, a range of materials is used–notably, exposed wood, painted wood, brushed steel, some concrete, and tinted or clear glass. Often the panels are set in different planes. The architectural elements use a modernist vocabulary (e.g., windows without moldings, flat roofs, no cornices), but the overall impression is anti-modernist because the patterns have decorative–not functional–purposes.

I don’t know what search terms to use to test this uninformed observation. If you search “architecture 2010s,” the results are all about marquee buildings by world-famous architects, and the trend is radical experimentation with materials and forms–usually organic rather than rectilinear. I’m not sure whether there is a name or a recognized handbook for the kinds of relatively routine (no offense) buildings shown above, but I think they all would have looked odd in 2000 and have become ubiquitous since 2010.

See also love what you see: Kogonada’s Columbus (2017); Boston, recovering city; a complaint about ceilings in modern architecture; and anxieties of influence (a poem about Cambridge MA).

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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