ICAA New England Bulfinch Awards

We joined the ICAA New England Chapter for the annual Bulfinch Awards at the Massachusetts Statehouse last Wednesday. The award “recognizes contemporary excellence in New England classical and traditional design…named in honor of Charles Bulfinch, the Boston architect who played a key role in introducing neoclassicism to America in the late 18th century.”

Jessica Makara, from our Greenwich CT showroom, and I called on an old friend from NY, the interior designer Jessica Hawkins-Haroon, who recently relocated to Boston. The event took place in the “Grand Staircase” of the statehouse, a beautiful mid-19th century building.

Jessica Hawkins-Haroon and Jessica Makara

Jessica Hawkins-Haroon and myself

There was an erudite lecture on the subject of courthouse design (near and dear to my heart as I wrote the final paper for my architectural history degree on the topic) by Judge Douglas Woodlock, U.S. District Judge in Boston.

Judge Woodlock speaks.

The lecture was on the surface a plea for resuscitating classical building design instead of international style modernism, but at its core really a plea for good architecture over cheap architecture regardless of style. The intersection of those two ideas occurs so broadly, and contributes to the dismissive trashing of modern work in my view, because modern (unadorned, form-following-function, steel-framed, etc.) building is very easy and commonly built cheaply and poorly. It’s certainly the case that cheap and inexpert work can also be carried out in a classical vocabulary.

The most arresting image from the presentation was this one of the mostly demolished shell of the old Chicago Federal courthouse in front of the Mies Van de Rohe New Chicago Federal Courthouse:

Lucky for me I had an hour before the event started to look over the placards of the winning projects.

Grand Prize- Civic: Restoration of Waterbury City Hall by DeCarol & Doll, Inc. Meriden, CT. (photo by Robert Benson)

I pass through Waterbury and longingly drink in the 19th C. mills as I drive to Boston every few months, however, I’ve never stopped to wander the streets of “The Brass City”. Now I have one more reason to make an afternoon of touring around there. You can view the project on Decarol and Doll’s website.


Best Urban Residence: Back Bay Townhouse, Dell Mitchell Architects Boston, MA. (photo by Michael Partenio)

This house is incredible in its detail, particularly the stair hall. You can view the project on the Dell Mitchell website.


Best Suburban Residence: Greek Revival Residence, Jan Gleysteen Architects Inc. Wellesley, MA (Photo by Sam Gray)

Here’s a link to the project on the Jan Gleysteen website. The architect here did a great job of sorting out the suburban evil of the attached garage. Given my druthers, I’d rather see it set back and apart from the main structure, like a barn or carriage house, but the woodwork on the doors and the windows above win me over.


Landscape: Georgian Country Estate, Gregory Lombardi Design Landscape Architecture Cambridge, MA.

View more photos of the project on the Gregory Lombardi Design website, under “Chestnut Hill“.


Interiors: Chestnut Hill Residence, Carter & Company Interior Design, Boston, MA.

This project, also in Chestnut Hill, has a Billy Baldwin vibe in its combination of Louis 16 and George III and late art deco furnishings.

- David Calligeros

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