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Boston City Hall


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#1 atlrvr

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 10:35 AM

EVERYONE knows about the infamous Boston City Hall, and its love it or (most) hate it design.

Well......the landmark may be seeing its day's numbered. Menino, in his quest to completely change the city in his final term, has proposed moving City Hall to the South Boston waterfront at Dry Dock 4 (where BofA Pavillion currently sits.)

He wold then sell the current city hall and the sad excuse for a plaza around it to private developers. My own speculation is that he would require the RFP's to include a requirement for a new tower at the site to reach 2000 feet, and include his full name in the building's name.

While I'm not overly opposed to this idea....because GAWD, Government Center is ugly, I would really want to see some truly thoughtful urban design connect the area. Public and open, without being too vast and cold (what's there now), but also more lively with retail, and appropriately addressing the exisiting adjacent uses. A real jewel could be created, or the can screw it up even worse with a few scattered highrises poking up out of a concrete plaza.

My other issue is, THE SILVER LINE SUCKS!!! When they can improve service (and I DO mean light rail), THEN keep adding all the high-traffic development to the SB Waterfront.

 

#2 Cotuit

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 10:53 AM

This gets brought up a lot, though previous proposals had City Hall moving to near the new Police HQ, which is approximately at the geographic center of the city. I happen to really like City Hall, I wish some of the original design ideas that were scrapped for cost would be realized. They should stop d*cking around with all this talk of moving City Government and actually improve City Hall Plaza.

I don't think moving City Hall to the waterfront is a very bright idea, it's rather dumb to remove that valuable land from the tax rolls, the court house has already done that.

#3 atlrvr

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 03:52 PM

Here is a article from the BBJ that gives some additional details.

Here are a few select qutoes.

Menino expects City Hall and the surrounding land that makes up City Hall Plaza to garner at least $300 million from developers interested in redeveloping the site.

and

Hart said the mayor indicated there was ample space at the Drydock Four site and that he would like to break ground within two years. Hart said there will be to be a comprehensive transportation analysis to ensure the area can accommodate additional workers. Otherwise, the idea was good for the city coffers and the South Boston neighborhood.



All and all, it seemed to have a pretty positive reaction. I just have a problem taking city hall out of the center of the city, where it is easily accessible to most everyone, and sticking it somewhat out of the way. It seems like the city is so committed to the South Boston Waterfront (BRA's aggressive entitlement, new courthouse, relocated ICA, new Conventrion Center, etc....) but they fail to take the most basic aspect into account. ACCESSIBILITY!!!!

I live next to South Station, and I never venture across the Ft. Point Chanel because a) it's not too attractive to walk to (in comparison to other parts of the city) b) the silver line sucks and I'm tired of having to explain to the other riders why they have to turn off the bus and then drive around the block a few times at Silver Line Way every time I take the bus to the airport. c) the area doesn't make good use of its greatest attribute....the waterfront.

Hopefully if this proposal goes forward, the public space will take GREAT advantage of the natural views and water, and draw people to it, rather than appear like some forbidden area like the rest of Boston's waterfront.

#4 cloudship

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 05:54 PM

*cough* ego *cough*

Seriously, City Hall is not all that bad. I have to admit I used to hate it completely, but I had someone show me a sketch of the place, sans the brick walls, but with greenery and such as it was supposedly going to have, both around the building as well as on and within it. It actually is a pretty good idea, just executed wrong.

#5 DoctorGonzo

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 01:37 AM

I'm probably not going to make a lot of friends in the city when I claim the new ICA is just the city hall hung over the waterfront and coated in glass.

#6 thisischarles

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 05:51 AM

I'm probably not going to make a lot of friends in the city when I claim the new ICA is just the city hall hung over the waterfront and coated in glass.


Probably because you are wrong.

Edited by thisischarles, 13 December 2006 - 05:53 AM.


#7 atlrvr

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 10:22 AM

I guess I have mixed feeling about the buildings. It's famous, and was the inspiration for many buildings around the country, so for that I think it deserves to be saved.....BUT, I just can't imagine how it could be appropriately incorporated into an urban space.

The problem also with the buildings is it looks uninviting to visitors. This would be a great building for the FBI, etc.

I've heard people say they should open up the base, but I disagree, because then you are changing the architectual distinction that the build effectively conveys.

Today's BBJ reports today there is some backlash among those who want to preserve the maritime industrial intentions for that area.

I think my opinion at this point is, unless they upgrade the Silverline to LRT between South Station and Silver Line Way, then keep City Hall where it is, sell of some of the plaza, and redeign the rest with lots of trees and retail kiosks.

#8 City Pointer

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 07:41 PM

Mayor Menino recently announced plans to sell the present City Hall and surronding plaza. He further said he wants to build a new City Hall in what was the old Army Base.

I think it's a great idea. Boston City Hall resembles something out of Stalinist East Germany. There are drawback to the proposed site. Public transport is the most important. Presently, the area is served by the Silver Line, a single bus line. The site is on the entrance to the Inner Harbor. It could be something to show off Boston to visitors.

Let's see how this shapes up.

#9 gregw

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Posted 15 December 2006 - 07:55 AM

I'm concerned about the possible loss of Boston City Hall.

We're going through a period now of modernist landmarks from the 1950s-70s being taken down or transformed beyond recognition. There are parallels here with the loss of 19th century landmarks being lost during that era.

Not every modernist structure is worth saving but we shouldn't be getting rid of the really signature ones like Boston City Hall. Let's improve the plaza in front instead.

#10 crispin

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:03 PM

Not every modernist structure is worth saving but we shouldn't be getting rid of the really signature ones like Boston City Hall...


Why do you see it as a signature building? It's a big building. It's in a prominent location. But it does nothing for me. I'd be curious to hear someone articulate what they like about it.

#11 gregw

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 08:00 PM

Why do you see it as a signature building? It's a big building. It's in a prominent location. But it does nothing for me. I'd be curious to hear someone articulate what they like about it.

You know, some people like brutalism and some people don't. Myself, I like the building because it is very sculptural -- it's got a dynamic and dramatic play of forms. I like the rhythm of the forms as well -- smaller sets of voids playing off larger ones. I also like the deep shadows and textured surfaces. I also like the heroic scale and the austerity.

Beyond that, the building has had a huge influence on architecture. In Providence, to give one local example, there is a structure called the Fogarty Building, now slated for demolition, that is clearly based on the city hall. There are many other examples as well.

For better or worse, Boston City Hall is one of the "greatest hits" of 1960s architecture. That's what I meant by singnature.

#12 Cotuit

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 11:00 AM

Wrecking ball tolls for City Hall [The Boston Globe]

I find Mr. Bean's opinions to be provincial, shortsighted, and unimaginative.

#13 Cotuit

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 02:54 PM

City Hall takes the fall [The Boston Globe]

#14 crispin

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 10:53 PM

You know, some people like brutalism and some people don't. Myself, I like the building because it is very sculptural -- it's got a dynamic and dramatic play of forms. I like the rhythm of the forms as well -- smaller sets of voids playing off larger ones. I also like the deep shadows and textured surfaces. I also like the heroic scale and the austerity.

Beyond that, the building has had a huge influence on architecture. In Providence, to give one local example, there is a structure called the Fogarty Building, now slated for demolition, that is clearly based on the city hall. There are many other examples as well.

For better or worse, Boston City Hall is one of the "greatest hits" of 1960s architecture. That's what I meant by singnature.



Thanks for the thoughtful response. I saw a picture today of the building and was reminded that it is interesting to look at. But it's always seemed to me that its best moments were spent as a model. As a building, its language is out of all proportion to human language, and the space around it is lost.

Wrecking ball tolls for City Hall [The Boston Globe]

I find Mr. Bean's opinions to be provincial, shortsighted, and unimaginative.



I'm pretty sure those are considered compliments in Boston... -_-

#15 cloudship

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 10:40 AM

Fine - I will say it. This is nothing but an ego trip and a big waste of money. So it isn't the prettiest building in the world. But I think it is a total waste of funds that are depsparately needed elsewhere to sell this building, purchase new land, and then have to pay to buy a new monument to one's self. If the City Hall is too ugly, what about the Federal building? Or the T stations? If you really have to spend that money on something, then fix up the public area around the building. I just think this is a big waste to throw the building away simply because it isn't a pretty building.

#16 atlrvr

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 01:59 PM

But don't you think the net affect will be a cash surplus rather than new debt. My assumption is the city will make more money by selling the old City Hall and Plaza than it would cost to build a new city hall on the land they currently own. That said, sure, I think it's an ego trip, and the proposed location is in the completely wrong spot, but I don't think it is financially unsound.

#17 crispin

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 03:15 PM

Fine - I will say it. This is nothing but an ego trip...



Also, best I can tell, ego trips seem to be the world's leading cause of great architecture. If you don't dream about glory, you're unlikely to produce anything glorious.

And I for one think cities deserve glorious municipal buildings.

#18 Cotuit

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 03:34 PM

But don't you think the net affect will be a cash surplus rather than new debt. My assumption is the city will make more money by selling the old City Hall and Plaza than it would cost to build a new city hall on the land they currently own.


I think if they were looking to build somewhere like near the new Police HQ (as was proposed once before), or on land the city already owns elsewhere you could maximize savings. The waterfront land is so valuable, and the fact that it's on fill will likely present unforseen construction challenges. If it's trying to be argued as a way to save or make money for the city, then the proposed location is totally wrong. And like I said, losing the tax revenue on the waterfront land is a bad idea.

#19 JJK5

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 06:47 PM

I don't think the City Hall should be moved from the center of downtown. It's called "Government Center" for a reason, city government should remain there. However, if they hate the old building so much, can't they build on the adjacent acre of nothingness? Sell the old monster when the new one is completed and it can be razed for development. Would make moving the offices a lot easier as well.

#20 cloudship

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Posted 19 December 2006 - 10:54 PM

Unfortunately I tend to doubt they would ever be able to stick to a budget. And as pointed out, you are not building somewhere that is any easier to build on. The value of the land in government Center is not that great, and you either have to find someone who WILL work in city hall, or who is willing to spend the money to tear it down.

So, quite honestly no, I don't think you will end up with a surpluss. The land is not that much more valuable there.