The Boston Architectural College welcomed Peter Steffian, FAIA, chairman of the Board of Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA), on Thursday, February 3, 2011 as the first guest lecturer in a series of workshops for new students. Len Charney, head of the BAC Practice Department, joined Peter in presenting "Boston's Legacy as a Livable City," a lecture about the development of Boston's architectural landscape and its connection to the city's cultural and social history.
Peter and Len sought to familiarize students with the architectural landscape of the city in which they are studying and will begin to practice design. Len began by introducing the students to Peter's wealth of experience as an accomplished architect, committed member of the BAC community, and lifelong resident of the area, then joined him in identifying the major projects that define Boston's modern periphery.
"When you think about the changes that have occurred within the city, you really have to start with the Back Bay and look at the architecture that spawned because of that major, major change," said Len. He explained that the entire area was once marshland, and that it took the city nearly 50 years to fill so it could be developed for commercial and residential use.
Peter discussed the reasons that prompted this massive undertaking—the neighborhood's central location, pressure from the area's affluent residents, and threat of takeover by eminent domain. After defining the city's limits, Peter and Len presented a selection of monumental changes to Boston's architectural landscape, beginning with the Prudential Center and finishing with Faneuil Hall. Maps and photographs supplemented the discussion of each site as it changed over time. "I think we started something here that we need to continue to build on," said Peter upon concluding the lecture. He invited the students to attend a special tour with Boston by Foot so they could visit each of the locations discussed in the presentation.