Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The indifferent balance between the Pru and John Hancock

So, it's true, I'm still obsessed with this view. I still can't put my finger on what it is. There's something so peaceful and beautiful about the silence of the view as you pass over the Longfellow Bridge, the silent bustle of the cars passing on the Longfellow Bridge and on Storrow Drive across the river. And the silent giants that seem almost indifferent to their surrounding buildings which can't even hope to compare to the powerful height that the Pru and the John Hancock possess. It's completely mesmerizing for so many different reasons that I ponder every day to and from work. I love it!

I said that the Pru and the John Hancock towers seem indifferent to the buildings that surround them. They also seem pretty indifferent to one another. They're so completely different, for being in such close proximity to each other. The Pru is considered by many to be the uglier of the two...a tall box dropped in the middle of the Boston skyline. Many a person has asked me why I like this "eyesore" so much, in fact. The John Hancock is much more graceful and seems to blend into the flow of the skyline much more smoothly. More like it was built than plopped down. And their differences speak to their utter indifference toward one another. It's not even that they seem to fight. They've just found a co-existence that they can share through ignoring each other in their own silent, towering ways.

I've noticed quite recently, though, with the shortness of days that has come with the changing of seasons, that each tower gets it time of day to stand out as the dominant tower of the skyline. Again, not like they're fighting for this spotlight, but the way each was built allows both to show themselves more or less depending on what time of day they are viewed. In the morning, when the sun is up or rising, the Pru sticks out almost like a sore thumb in the skyline. [I can't truly say "sore thumb" because I like the Pru too much, but you catch my meaning.] The Pru was built in such a way that it almost repels the rays of sun and the warmth of light in the daytime hours. So the Pru dominates the skyline view from the Longfellow Bridge, while the John Hancock, with it's mirrored glass on all sides, catches and reflects the sunlight, blending into the colors of the sunrise and reflecting the rest of the city in it's lower half. It blends into the background, as if conceding the spotlight to the Pru if it cared enough to think of it's sister tower in the skyline (which, as I've already established, it does not due to the indifference between the two).

My ride home from work almost always finds me in twilight or darker parts of the growing evening. And at this time of day, the John Hancock finds its time to shine. Without the natural light of day, the mirrored sides of the John Hancock are no longer visible, and instead we see the lights emanating from the inside of the tower. Those lights demand the attention of those viewing this skyline, as they're the brightest in the full scope of this view. The Pru, on the other hand, dims itself into the background. One can see lights from the inside of the Pru as well, but because of all of the other material making up the tower that is the Pru, those interior lights are significantly dimmed, enough to make the Pru appear to step into the darkness of the background while the John Hancock demands the spotlight.

An interesting relationship these two towers have, right? A natural balance between their time in the foreground of this view off the Longfellow Bridge, without ever really appearing to notice the other tower's existence. Never a fight, never a push-and-pull, never a tug-of-war for attention, just a natural back and forth from foreground and background as the hours of the day pass them by.


What I love about that view are the many small steeples in the back bay. While many city sky lines are much more dynamic, the back bay's steeples make it unique and give it a sense of a village surrounded by a city.
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