When the Institute of Contemporary Art opened its new building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, on Fan Pier in 2006, it accelerated the development of the previously bleak Fort Point area and created an instant icon on the Boston skyline- its cantilever, extending out over a walkway that continues along the waterfront, is unmissable.
Today, luxury condo buildings are shooting up around the ICA and the area is the hot spot for trendy restaurants. But to me the strongest draw to this waterfront area is the museum itself. Boston has had a reputation for being stodgy about contemporary art, which the ICA’s strong curatorial program is working hard to dispel. My favorite shows there have included retrospectives on the work of Damian Ortega, Josiah McElheny, and Roni Horn. Smaller exhibits also focus more on up and coming artists as well.
One of the building’s architectural highlights is a steeply banked auditorium; when the curtain at the bottom is parted, it reveals a sweeping view of the harbor providing a beautiful setting for a night time performance of one of the ICA’s innovative dance, music or theater programs.
I saw a revelatory production of Waiting for Godot there, informed by post-Katrina New Orleans, and the Gob Squad’s improvisatory take on Andy Warhol’s “Kitchen.” There’s also a small but well curated design store with books and nice gifts and jewelry, much of it by local artists.
Be sure to check the website for special events, and there is free admission Thursdays after 17:00.