What would you call it if you heard about a building that was constructed to house and care for mentally ill patients that was so poorly designed and configured that it probably caused the people to suffer worse because of it?
Ironic? Or, tragic?
And, what if I told you the building was here, in Boston?
Welcome to the Lindemann & Hurley Buildings, in the State Services Center, in Boston’s West End.
– click photo to enlarge
The Architecture of Madness – By Philip Nobel, Metropolis magazine
Horror stories of patients lost in the building are common, as are accounts of assaults on patients and staff in its many dim, secluded alcoves. Indeed, the building has proved to be so insidious that it is possible to hold certain spaces responsible for repeatedly abetting self-destructive acts.
A catwalk over the Lindemann’s plaza-level lobby had to be glazed after it invited too many suicide attempts. The chapel, a top-lit chamber called out on the skyline with a crowning finial, is experienced as the heart of the building, what Rudolph once called “that releasing space which dominates.” It has been sealed shut since shortly after the building opened in 1972; a patient died there after igniting himself on the concrete slab altar.
As one former Lindemann Center psychiatrist noted darkly, the patient was just following environmental cues: “It looks like a place that should be used for human sacrifice.”
Here’s an awesome photo of the building:
– click to enlarge image
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