City Hall. Oh, how I hate it. Most people do. But, how some architects love it.
With $40 million in federal funds, the city built an entirely new development on top of old Scollay Square, renaming the area Government Center, and peppering it with city, state, and federal government buildings. The centerpiece of the main plaza is the uniquely imposing and brutalist Boston City Hall.
The plaza is not a well-loved space. As Bill Wasik wrote in 2006, “It is as if the space were calibrated to render futile any gathering, large or small, attempted anywhere on its arid expanse. All the nearby buildings seem to be facing away, making the plaza’s eleven acres of concrete and brick feel like the world’s largest back alley. [It is] so devoid of benches, greenery, and other signposts of human hospitality that even on the loveliest fall weekend, when the Common and Esplanade and other public spaces teem with Bostonians at leisure, the plaza stands utterly empty save for the occasional skateboarder.” (Wasik 2006, 61)
Will Boston ever agree to tear it down?
From the Boston Herald:
Boston City Councilor John Tobin, who says working in the drafty and dim 1960s-era concrete bunker is no joy, is calling upon Mayor Thomas M. Menino to explore the possibility of demolishing one of the city’s top eyesores.
Tobin envisions a new, sleek modern City Hall being built in its place, but said he would also be open to developers interested in paying big money to redevelop the key stretch of downtown real estate.
I would level the thing, Tobin said. It’s a shame we have these hulking, brutalism era buildings.
The chances of Boston selling or tearing down City Hall are about the same as the Red Sox winning the World Series. Of Poker.
It’s more likely City Hall will get landmark protection and never be torn down. Spaceships will surround it, someday.
The Mayor suggests if we could just pretty up the square, it’d be all better. Dude, we’re talking about the building. Pay attention.
(I think the Herald story was pretty much the creation of Scott Van Voorhis, and no one else, even though he says, “at least one developer has mentioned a deal to buy it”. Really? Let’s hear names. Still, there’s worse things he could fabricate.)