Oh, the times they are a-changin’ in Boston.
It was just in September 2013 when then Representative Martin J. Walsh, announced a proposal to sell City Hall Plaza to a private developer and privatize the building—paving the way for the bulldozing of the plaza and possibly City Hall. “You could put a hotel boutique here. You could put a full hotel here. You could have an office building. You could put so much in this area,” Walsh told the Boston Herald. As I wrote in my Big Red & Shiny review of Boston City Hall: Drawings by Kallmann McKinnell and Knowles, an exhibition curated by Boston architect Gary Wolf, AIA and presented at the Boston Society of Architects, “there is nothing Boston’s world-renowned architecture firms cannot fix, upgrade and restore.”
On Monday, the Walsh administration announced the installation of architectural lighting to “highlight and enhance the building’s original design, building on the Walsh Administration’s goals to liven up City Hall Plaza and create a safer area for pedestrians,” the press release stated.
“We are committed to creating a welcoming, lively City Hall Plaza, and installing new lights will make the plaza safer while connecting us to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market,” Mayor Walsh is quoted as saying in the press release. “The lighting restores the outside of City Hall to its original design and the LED technology will help us meet our sustainability goals,” he added.
This is good.
For a building that was listed by the American Institute of Architects in 1976 as one of the ten greatest works of architecture in America as well as praised by numerous architecture critics when it first opened, Boston City Hall has become the building Bostonians love to hate and I can see why. It had been neglected and left to deteriorate for more than four decades, but the Walsh administration has taken a renewed interest in this outstanding architectural symbol of the New Boston. The administration even goes as far as calling the style of the building “Heroic,” a term coined by Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley and Michael Kubo, the folks behind The Heroic Project and the new architectural monograph that historicizes Boston City Hall and all its relatives, Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston.
This is really good.
The news coming from City Hall is a reassuring first step in what I hope is the first of many positive steps that prioritize the restoration and upgrading of the building and its surroundings. Boston City Hall placed Boston on the map in 1968 and it’s time the City gives it the respect it deserves.
Construction for the architectural lighting is anticipated to start in April and be completed by the end of summer 2016.