Prudential Tower in Cambridge

Show Map

The Prudential Tower, also known as the Prudential Building or, colloquially, The Pru, 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 749 ft 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 ft 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 since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The building also has a restaurant on the 52nd floor, called Top of the Hub.


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, 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 790 ft.

Today, the Prudential is no longer even 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 ft Federal Reserve Bank. The Prudential and John Hancock towers still dominate the Back Bay skyline, but other tall buildings have arisen there 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.

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.


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". 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." Architecture writer Donlyn Lyndon called it "an energetically ugly, square shaft that offends the Boston skyline more than any other structure." 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." It has been quipped that the Prudential Tower is "the box the Hancock Tower came in".


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 of these floors have since been vacated. Boston-based law firm Ropes & Gray moved into many of these floors, including the 37th through 49th, in fall 2010. Other major tenants include Partners HealthCare, Club Monaco and Accenture. 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 ft 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

The Prudential Center, situated on 23 acre, is in the Back Bay neighborhood at 800 Boylston Street and houses a 495229 sqft 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 (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 is 101 Huntington Avenue; at a mere 25 stories, it is 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. By the fall of 2007 another major development was completed along Boylston Street at the Prudential Center complex: the Mandarin Oriental, Boston hotel.

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 three starting locales for the Boston Duck Tours, a popular tourist attraction in the city.

List of tenants

  • Ropes & Gray, 17 floors, mostly above 26th floor; reception on 48th floor.
  • Partners HealthCare, several floors; head office is on the 11th
  • SAS, 22nd floor
  • Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, L.L.P., 25th floor
  • Posternak, Blankstein & Lund LLP, 32nd-33rd floors
  • St. Francis Chapel, ground floor of the Prudential Center Complex

See also

  • Shops at Prudential Center
  • List of tallest buildings in Boston

Media placement

The Prudential Tower's most notable film credit was the 2007 Disney film Underdog. It can be seen with 111 Huntington Avenue and the John Hancock Tower as Underdog is flying over the city of Boston.

The tower can also be seen with 111 Huntington Avenue and the John Hancock Tower on the opening and closing shots of most NECN news reports.

External links