Amphitheatre on the Coast

architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro
project Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
written by Rachel Levitt


The city of Boston isn’t known for trendy architecture or design risk-taking. As one of the United States’ oldest urban areas, Boston planners tend to err toward imitation. Even new buildings use masonry as a nod to the brick lofts of the nineteenth century found everywhere in the city. So it was not surprising that the Institute of Contemporary Art, despite its name, occupied a late 1800s brick fire station on a wide, busy street in the heart of the city. The ICA was an institute more than a museum, dedicated to contemporary art installations. It lacked a permanent collection, operating like a kuntshalle, offering temporary exhibitions supported by the local art community. In its 100-year history, it had great first shows of such prominent artists as Oskar Kokoschka, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol, and Cindy Sherman.