United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building

United Shore Machinery Corporation Building
  1. About the United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building in Boston
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by Parker, Thomas & Rice and built between 1929 and 1930 in Boston, MA.

Its precise street address is 160 Federal Street, Boston, MA. You can also find it on the map here.

The United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building is a structure of significant importance both for the city of Boston and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building was officially included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and was also included in the Boston Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
1929
95
Construction completed
1930
94
Added to the NRHP
1980
44
Added to the Boston RHP
1983
41
years ago
2024

Architect and team

Parker, Thomas & Rice was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about George W. Fuller.

Parker, Thomas & Rice and the other architects already mentioned were in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline involving many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but at the very least we know that there was one other part involved, that was United Shoe Machinery Corporation as the Main Developer.

Architectural Style

The United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building was completed in 1930, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

It has a total of 24 floors.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1930, the United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building has mainly been used as Commercial space.

Materials & Structure

The United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concrete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features limestone used for the street-level wall cladding, combined with black granite, with reforced steel is used for the piers than enphasize the vertical thrust. Dark sand colored bricks, stones and metal are the major decorativo elements at street level.

Other materials found at the United Shoe Machinery Corporation Building include, gold-colored glaced tiles, used for the penhouse roof, cast stone, seen in flat rectanguar blocks as decoration on the upper parts of the ziggurat and surrounding of the monumental store door, frosted glass, found in in lighting fixtures, and bronze, used in doors and lobby windows complements.

Sources

  • npgallery.nps.gov
  • www.cityofboston.gov