As Boston continues to ponder its Brutalist city hall, professor suggests covering the behemoth with a glass veil

(Courtesy HARRY BARTNICK)

(Courtesy HARRY BARTNICK)

Like so many Brutalist buildings around the word, Boston’s iconic City Hall has not necessarily endeared itself to the public. Since it opened in the 1960s, there have been calls to update the building, completely overhaul it, and to demolish it outright and start over. There have, of course, also been calls to preserve it.

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Boston mayor wants ideas to overhaul the city’s windswept City Hall Plaza

Boston City Hall, built in the 1960s to resemble the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Boston City Hall, built in the 1960s to resemble the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

If Boston City Hall were a celebrity, it might be a fixture on tabloid “Worst Dressed” lists. The Brutalist building elicits strong sentiments from architectural observers and everyday citizens alike, but most agree the City Hall Plaza could use some sprucing up. In his inaugural State of the City address Mayor Marty Walsh called on residents to help him reimagine the barren, 11-acre brick expanse.

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Letter to the Editor> Bosques of Boston’s Past

A plan for Boston City Hall Plaza by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners from 1961. (Courtesy Pei Cobb Freed & Partners)

A plan for Boston City Hall Plaza by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners from 1961. (Courtesy Pei Cobb Freed & Partners)

[ Editor’s Note: The following is a reader-submitted response to a recent article, “Softening Boston’s City Hall.” It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN03_03.05.2014. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com]

With regard to the proposed landscape interventions in Boston’s City Hall Plaza: This welcome news brings to mind the Illustrative Site Plan prepared by our firm in 1961 (above) to accompany the Government Center Urban Renewal Plan. As our drawing shows, we envisioned the space between Tremont Street and the new City Hall not as a paved plaza but as a quiet lawn crossed by footpaths and populated by deciduous trees, in the tradition of a New England town green.

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