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Prudential Tower
The Prudential Tower behind 111 Huntington Avenue, as seen from the South End
General information
Location 800 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Coordinates 42°20′49.78″N 71°04′57.08″W / 42.3471611°N 71.0825222°W / 42.3471611; -71.0825222Coordinates: 42°20′49.78″N 71°04′57.08″W / 42.3471611°N 71.0825222°W / 42.3471611; -71.0825222
Status Complete
Constructed 1960 - 1964
Use Office, Observation, Restaurant
Antenna or spire 907 ft (276.4 m)
Roof 749 ft (228.4 m)
Technical details
Floor count 52
Floor area 1.2 million square feet (111,484 m²)
Companies involved
Architect(s) The Luckman Partnership
Developer Boston Properties

The Prudential Tower, also known as the Prudential Building or, colloquially, as The Pru,[1][2] is a skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts. The building, a part of the Prudential Center complex, currently stands as the 2nd-tallest building in Boston, behind the John Hancock Tower. The Prudential Tower was designed by Charles Luckman and Associates for Prudential Insurance. Completed in 1964, the building is 759 ft (229 m) tall, with 52 floors. It contains 1.2 million square feet (111,484 m²) of commercial and retail space. Including its radio mast, the tower stands as the tallest building in Boston and the 26th-tallest in the United States, rising to 907 feet (276 m) in height. A 50th floor observation deck, called the "Prudential Skywalk", is currently the highest observation deck in New England that is open to the public, as the higher observation deck of the John Hancock Tower has been closed (somewhat controversially) since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.



Prudential Tower in 1963, with construction not quite finished. "Old" John Hancock building at left.

The Prudential Tower began construction in 1960. Upon its completion in 1964, the Prudential was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City, just barely surpassing the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Ohio. It dwarfed the 1947 John Hancock building, seen at the left in the photo. This spurred the rival insurance company to build the 1975 John Hancock Tower, which is just slightly taller at 788 ft (240 m).

Today, the Prudential is no longer even among the fifty tallest buildings in the USA when measuring to architectural height. Within Boston, in addition to the nearby John Hancock tower, many other tall buildings have since been built in Boston's financial district, including the 614 ft (187 m) Federal Reserve Bank. The Prudential and John Hancock towers still dominate the Back Bay skyline, but other tall buildings have started arising there as well since the late 1990s, perhaps most notably 111 Huntington Avenue, which is also part of the Prudential Center.

In the 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2007 Major League Baseball playoffs, the building's tenants turned on and off their lights to spell out "GO SOX", providing a visual for Boston Red Sox fans at nearby Fenway Park.


Prudential Tower showing the "GO SOX" light pattern in support of the Boston Red Sox

When it was built, the Prudential Tower received mostly positive architectural reviews. The New York Times called it "the showcase of the New Boston [representing] the agony and the ecstasy of a city striving to rise above the sordidness of its recent past".[3] But Ada Louise Huxtable called it "a flashy 52-story glass and aluminum tower... part of an over-scaled megalomaniac group shockingly unrelated to the city's size, standards, or style. It is a slick developer's model dropped into an urban renewal slot in Anycity, U.S.A.—a textbook example of urban character assassination."[4] Architecture writer Donlyn Lyndon called it "an energetically ugly, square shaft that offends the Boston skyline more than any other structure."[5] In 1990, Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell commented: "The Prudential Center has been the symbol of bad design in Boston for so long that we'd probably miss it if it disappeared."[6] It has been quipped that the Prudential Tower is "the box the Hancock Tower came in".[citation needed]


Prudential Tower in 2008

The Prudential Center is currently owned by Boston Properties. The building is one of several Prudential Centers built around the United States (such as the tower in Chicago) constructed as capital investments by Prudential Financial (formerly, The Prudential Insurance Company of America). Preceding Prudential Financial's demutualization, Prudential sold off many of its real estate assets, for instance most of the air rights in Times Square, and the Prudential Center in Boston, to put cash on the corporate balance sheets. 40% of the space was once home to The Gillette Company, now a unit of Procter & Gamble, but many floors have since been vacated. Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray is slated to take over many floors in 2010. Other major tenants include Club Monaco, Accenture and CSN Stores. The building was sold to Boston Properties. However, Prudential Financial's then head of global marketing, and Boston native, Michael Hines, suggested that the real estate deal only go through with the condition that Prudential retain the name and signage rights for the Prudential Center and Prudential Tower. Signage rights in Boston are very limited, and Prudential's are grandfathered. The other notable backlit signs allowed above 100 feet (30 m) include The Colonnade Hotel, Boston, State Street Bank sign, Sheraton sign, and Citgo Sign. Using similar negotiations, Prudential retains two notable signs in Times Square.

Broadcast tenants

The main rooftop mast supports two FM master antennas, and a top-mounted television antenna previously used by WBPX. The upper master antenna, manufactured by Electronics Research, Inc. (ERI), serves WZLX 100.7, WBMX 104.1, WMJX 106.7, and WXKS-FM 107.9. The lower master antenna was installed in the late 1990s, also by ERI, and serves WBOS 92.9, WTKK 96.9, and WROR 105.7. The FM stations each transmit with approximately 22,000 watts ERP and in HD Radio. The roof also has a smaller tower with standby antennas for all of the FM broadcast tenants.

Prudential Center

Prudential Center courtyard, July 2006

The Prudential Center, situated on 23 acres (93,000 m2), is in the Back Bay neighborhood at 800 Boylston Street and houses a successful 495,229-square-foot (46,008.3 m2) shopping mall, the Shops at Prudential Center, in the base. Known to locals as "the Pru," it is bordered by Belvedere, Dalton, Boylston, and Exeter streets, along with Huntington Avenue. Before the Prudential development, the site was a switch yard for the Boston and Albany Railroad. By 1965, a part of the negotiations for the Massachusetts Turnpike extension included the construction of the roadway below parts of the Prudential complex. The Prudential still has its own exit from the turnpike for this reason.

The new skyscraper at 111 Huntington Avenue was completed in 2002 and is directly across the street from The Colonnade Hotel, located at 120 Huntington Avenue. The third tower of the Prudential Center is 101 Huntington Avenue; at a mere 25 stories, it is dwarfed by the other two.

The Hynes Convention Center is connected to the complex, which combined was considered the first mixed-use development in New England and awarded the Urban Land Institute's Best Mixed Use Development Award in 2006.[1] By the fall of 2007 another major development was completed along Boylston Street at the Prudential Center complex: the Mandarin Oriental, Boston hotel.[2]

The complex has direct indoor connections to two MBTA stops, Prudential and Back Bay. Prudential is on the Huntington Avenue side of the building directly outside the Colonnade Hotel, and is the first station on the Green Line "E" Branch after the split from the main line at Copley Square. Back Bay is a stop on the Orange Line and is accessible to the complex via the Copley Place mall, to which it is attached by a walkway over Huntington Avenue. Back Bay is also served by Amtrak, including the Acela high-speed train. This means it is possible to travel from the observation lounge in the Pru to the top of the MetLife Building in New York City without going outdoors (by walking through the mall to Back Bay Station, hopping on Amtrak to Penn Station in New York, and taking the subway to Grand Central Terminal).

In addition, the Prudential Center serves as one of two starting locales for the Boston Duck Tours, a popular tourist attraction in the city.

List of Tenants

  • Procter & Gamble, multiple floors, mostly above 34th floor
  • Partners HealthCare, several floors; head office is on the 11th
  • CSN Stores, 16th floor
  • SAS, 22nd floor
  • Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P., 25th floor
  • Posternak, Blankstein & Lund LLP, 32-33rd floors
  • Harvard Medical School (Department of Global Health & Social Medicine), Partners In Health, 47th floor
  • RakutenUSA, 49th floor
  • St. Francis Chapel, ground floor of the Prudential Center Complex

See also


  1. ^ e.g. Burge, Kathleen (2006), "Made You Look! Yeah, There's the Top of the Pru, But There Are Other Amazing Views—If You Know Where to Find Them. The Boston Globe, July 16, 2006, p. C1
  2. ^ Feeney, Mark (1998), "The Homely Landmark's a Skyscraper We Can't Stop Looking Down On, But in '65, It Gave The City a Big Boost" The Boston Globe,, February 3, 1998, page C1: "'The Pru' everyone calls it: a resigned shrug of a name, as flat and uninflected as the wan moue its pronunciation requires."
  3. ^ Fenton, John H. (1965) "Center in Boston To Be Dedicated," The New York Times, April 18, 1965, p. R1
  4. ^ Huxtable, Ada Louise (1964): "Renewal in Boston: Good and Bad," The New York Times, April 19, 1964, p. X24
  5. ^ Lyndon, Donlyn (1982). The City Observed: Boston. Vintage. ISBN 0-394-74894-8. : the Hancock "may be nihilistic, overbearing, even elegantly rude, but it's not dull;" the Prudential is "an energetically ugly, square shaft that offends the Boston skyline more than any other structure."
  6. ^ Campbell, Robert (1990), "Rebuilding the Pru Disaster," The Boston Globe, January 28, 1990, p. B33

External links

Preceded by
Custom House Tower
Tallest Building in Boston
228 m
Succeeded by
John Hancock Tower
Preceded by
Terminal Tower
Tallest building in the United States outside of New York City
228 m
Succeeded by
John Hancock Center


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