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Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, Inc. Collection

Materials documenting the work of a preeminent corporate architecture firm working in the last third of the twentieth century.

The firm originated in 1962 when Gerhard Kallmann and Michael McKinnell were selected by the City of Boston out of a pool of 286 submissions to design the new City Hall. Their winning entry in the competition received instant national and international recognition and became one of the most recognizable—and controversial—buildings in the city. The firm took the name Kallmann McKinnell & Wood (KMW) when Henry Wood joined the firm in 1965. KMW entered additional competitions in the 1960s and 70s, completed nearly one hundred major projects in the 80s and 90s, and remained active into the 2000s. Kallmann taught at MIT in 1962, 1964 and 1981 and McKinnell from 1996 to 2003. In addition to City Hall, the firm designed many recognizable additions to Boston’s cityscape, including Hynes Convention Center, the Suffolk County Courthouse, Back Bay Station, and the World Trade Center in the Seaport.

The MIT collection holds graphic documentation of all stages of design for many of KMW’s significant projects, from preliminary sketches through final construction drawings. This is supplemented by an archive of the firm’s slides and photographs that record projects both in progress and once completed. A chronological and typological review of the material in the collection reveals the shifting trends and strengths of the firm as it developed from the 1960s. KMW specialized in institutional buildings for academic, cultural, and government clients. Early competition entries for a Parliament Expansion and a County Hall for Northampton, both in England, show how the firm adapted its Boston City Hall design vocabulary in other contexts. In the United States, the firm’s award-winning design for the new headquarters for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge established a successful prototype they would develop into an “office in the woods” campus scheme for corporate clients such as Beckton Dickinson and Arrow International. KMW designed a wide variety of buildings for universities, from libraries and laboratories to athletic facilities and performing arts centers. Museums such as the Peabody Essex and DeCordova turned to KMW for expansion and renovation plans. Finally, the firm secured numerous government contracts to design courthouses in Cleveland and Charlotte, for example, and embassies, such as those in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Bangkok, Thailand. Additional KMW materials can be found in the collections of Historic New England, Alfred University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Title: Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, Inc. Collection

Creators: Kallmann McKinnell & Wood, Gerhard Kallmann, Michael McKinnell, Henry Wood, Bruce Wood

Dates: 1964–2007, bulk 1981–1998

Extent: 1298 tubes of drawings, 525 individually catalogued drawings, 22 linear feet archives, 105 presentation boards, 13 models

Language: English

Repository: MIT Museum

Reference code: KMW (2010.012 and 2016.035)

Access: Online and by appointment

Copyright: Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, Inc.

Credit: Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, Inc. Collection, MIT Museum