Too late to squash-bust it


Portion of SquashBuster Center at Moses Brown on Tuesday evening.

The alien spaceship being erected on the Moses Brown School campus facing Hope Street telegraphs its strangeness to everyone who passes along that stretch of Hope. Two sets of angled girders thrust akimbo toward Hope, like the wings of a stealth fighter jet. Out they come from the structure’s two- story rectangular body, seemingly bent on disrupting the flow of traffic.

What can this be, most passersby must surely be asking.

It is the SquashBusters (sic) Center at Moses Brown. The latter is an elite local private school. Perhaps it is good that when complete the new facility will not quite live up to the edgy quality suggested by what’s there now. The local firm of Lerner Ladds Bartels may be blamed for this subdued atrocity, but the leadership of the school is responsible. The design’s pretense to cool, however unrealized, uglifies a stretch of Hope long – but no longer – graced by the physical charms of the Moses Brown campus, which SB@MB serves to squash, or at least largely to block from the view of passersby.

Except for its trendy misspelling, SquashBusters is a perfectly respectable nonprofit that combines after-school sports and academics, to date mostly in the Boston area. Its twelve new squash courts on Hope Street will allegedly be made available to the public. Too bad its tepid stylistic egotism, which would be a perfect fit for a suburban commercial strip, has already crash-landed on one of the great streets of our historic city. No doubt the spirit of school founder Moses Brown (1738-1836) is spinning in his grave.

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Rendering of SquashBusters Center at Moses Brown. (LBB)

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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