Prudential Tower

For the Prudential buildings in Newark, see Prudential Headquarters.
For the buildings in Chicago, see One Prudential Plaza and Two Prudential Plaza.
For the sports arena in New Jersey, see Prudential Center.
Prudential Tower

Vertical panoramic view of the Prudential Tower
General information
Type Office, Observation, Restaurant
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
Construction started 1960
Completed 1964
Antenna spire 907 feet (276 m)
Roof 749 feet (228 m)
Technical details
Floor count 52
Floor area 1.2 million square feet (111,484 m²)
Design and construction
Architect The Luckman Partnership
Developer Boston Properties

The Prudential Tower, also known as the Prudential Building or, colloquially, The Pru,[1][2] is an International Style skyscraper in Boston, Massachusetts. The building, a part of the Prudential Center complex, currently stands as the 2nd-tallest building in Boston, behind the 200 Clarendon building. The Prudential Tower was designed by Charles Luckman and Associates for Prudential Insurance. Completed in 1964, the building is 749 feet (228 m) tall, with 52 floors. It contains 1,200,000 sq ft (110,000 m2) of commercial and retail space. Including its radio mast, the tower stands as the tallest building in Boston and is tied with others as the 77th-tallest in the United States, rising to 907 feet (276 m) in height.

A restaurant, the Top of the Hub, occupies the 52nd floor. A 50th-floor observation deck, called the Skywalk Observatory, is currently the highest observation deck in New England open to the public, as the higher observation deck of the John Hancock Tower has been closed since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.


Unfinished Prudential Tower in 1963, dwarfs the Old John Hancock building at left

The Prudential Tower began construction in 1960 with steel erection work by Donovan Steel. Upon its completion in 1964, the Prudential was the tallest building in the world outside of New York City, surpassing the Terminal Tower in Cleveland, Ohio. It dwarfed the 1947-John Hancock building. This spurred the insurance rival to build the 1975 John Hancock Tower, which is slightly taller at 790 feet (240 m).

Today, the Prudential is no longer among the fifty tallest buildings in the USA in architectural height. Within Boston, in addition to the nearby John Hancock tower, many other tall buildings have since been built in the financial district, including the 614-foot (187 m) Federal Reserve Bank. The Prudential and John Hancock towers dominate the Back Bay skyline.

Critical reception

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] Architect 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]


The Prudential Tower behind 111 Huntington Avenue, as seen from the South End

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 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. The Gillette Company, now a unit of Procter & Gamble, once occupied 40 percent of the space in the structure but has since vacated many of these floors. Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray moved into much of this space, including the 37th through 49th, in fall 2010. Other major tenants include Wall St investment firm Home State Corporation, Partners HealthCare, Club Monaco, Exeter Group and Accenture. Boston Properties acquired the building in 1998.[7] 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.

Features and design


The tradition of using the window lights to support local sports teams and events began in the mid-1980s. The building's windows have been illuminated with "GO B's" to support the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup playoffs and "GO SOX" or a "1" during important World Series and postseason games.[8]

In the 1999, 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2013 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.[9] The tower appears in nearly all pictures of deep right field from the left field line, and is prominently featured in most broadcasts from the park.

A normal display of 91 foot tall letters takes over 140 man-hours, covers 18 floors of the building, uses 165 additional window lights, and 260 window block out panels.[8]

On April 22, 2013, the City of Boston requested the lighting of the Prudential Tower with the number "1" in support of The One Fund Boston and those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. The display was seen on the north side of the building, overlooking Boylston Street, where the tragedy occurred just a week earlier.[10]

Over the past few years, the Prudential Tower has been illuminated through light-emitting diodes (LEDs), that have the capacity to create a glow near the top of the building. The lighting is used for special occasions and charitable events and can support nearly every color, including yellow, red, pink, blue, green, red, orange, gold, purple, and maroon.[11][12]

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 620,000-square-foot (58,000 m2) shopping mall, the Shops at Prudential Center, in the base.[13] Known to locals as "the Pru," it is bordered by Belvidere, Dalton, Boylston, and Exeter streets overlooking 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 (eastbound only) exit from the turnpike for this reason.

The new skyscraper at 111 Huntington Avenue was completed in 2002, directly across the street from The Colonnade Hotel, at 120 Huntington Avenue. The third tower of the Prudential Center, 101 Huntington Avenue, is, at a mere 25 stories, overshadowed 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.[14] By the fall of 2007, another major development was completed along Boylston Street at the Prudential Center complex: the Mandarin Oriental, Boston hotel.[15]

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 its 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.

The Prudential Center serves as one of three starting locales for the Boston Duck Tours, a popular tourist attraction in the city.[16]

Antenna and 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, WBQT 96.9, and WROR-FM 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.

The studios of FM station WBCN occupied space on the 50th floor for a period in the 1970s and WEEI (AM 590 and FM 103.3), when it was a CBS Radio O&O, had its offices and studios on the 44th floor in the second half of the 1960s.

List of tenants

See also


  1. Burge, Kathleen (16 July 2006). "Made You Look!". The Boston Globe. p. C1. Retrieved 2013-07-24.subscription required
  2. Feeney, Mark (3 February 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. p. 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. (18 April 1965). "Center in Boston To Be Dedicated". The New York Times. p. R1. Retrieved 2013-07-24.subscription required
  4. Huxtable, Ada Louise (19 April 1964). "Renewal in Boston: Good and Bad". The New York Times. p. X24.
  5. Lyndon, Donlyn (12 June 1982). The City Observed: Boston. Vintage. ISBN 0-394-74894-8.
  6. Campbell, Robert (28 January 1990). "Rebuilding the Pru Disaster". The Boston Globe. p. B33. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  7. "Prudential Center". Boston Properties. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  8. 1 2 Small, Eddie (2013-12-05). "Prudential To Throw Light on Nonprofits". The Boston Courant. Courant Publications, Inc. pp. 1 and 10.
  9. "Prudential Center's Sox cheer was a tall order for engineers". The Boston Globe. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  10. Grillo, Thomas (22 April 2013). "Pru Tower to light up in memory of bombing victims". Boston Business Journal. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  11. "Prudential Tower will light up for the holidays". The Boston Globe. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  12. DeCanio, Lisa (9 October 2011). "15 Facts You Never Knew About the Pru". BostInno. Streetwise Media. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  13. "Amenities". Boston Properties. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  14. "399 Boylston Street/Warren Chambers Building". Urban Land Institute. 1986. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  15. Blanton, Kimberly (18 May 2005). "The lure of luxury leads to Boylston St.". The Boston Globe.
  16. "Tickets". Boston Duck Tours. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  17. "Locations: Accenture Office Directory". Accenture. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
  18. "Find Us: United States". INTRASOFT International. Retrieved 2013-07-24.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prudential Tower.
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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