Webb Nichols | Clean Up City Hall
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Clean Up City Hall

Clean Up City Hall

The Building Has Become an Embarrassing Example of Neglect

What is happening at Boston City Hall is an embarrassment for which all who love Boston must take responsibility. Like so many familiar things, we sometimes become blind to reality:

  • With the Massachusetts city of Boston flags fraying in the wind, three grimy flagpoles. scarred by time, stand out in front of City Hall.
  • Dusty municipal cars and trucks are parked and scattered randomly on City Hall Plaza, often leaving the entry looking more like a truck dock than an entry to a major public building.
  • In some locations, sections of steel police fencing, remnants of some prior event, still block access to the plaza.
  • Three redundant metal signs placed awkwardly at the base of the lobby wall, greet visitors at the main entry.
  • A coated paper handicapped sign, torn with age, is taped to an exterior concrete column opposite the entry.
  • The light from the lonely, high intensity industrial light, fastened on an adjacent wall, attempts to lift the gloom engulfing the entry.

Inside the lobby, improvised security stations, a portable construction light standing in the corner, and an abandoned reception desk are further examples of insensitivity, apparent indifference, and detachment, from the historic nature of Boston City Hall and its plaza.

Forget all the whining their inappropriateness. Here at the center of one of the most important historic cities in the world, City Hall and its plaza – our symbol of governance and nexus of city activity – is evidence suggesting deeper issues relating to lack of awareness, respect and city pride.

Is this really a matter of spiritual fatigue and indifference on the part of the who occupy City Hall as well as all of us whom this building should represent out best instincts?

A few changes could make City Hall more welcoming to workers and visitors alike:

  • Restrict parking to a designated area adjacent to an entry on the plaza.
  • Place a structure at an edge of the plaza for storage barricades.
  • Replace the metal signs with an information kiosk in or at the entry to the lobby of the building.
  • Redesign the lobby so that it effectively integrates security, reception, and storage.
  • To deal with the “gloom” of the exterior and interior spaces, replace the broken remaining and functioning recessed lights with stem mounted or wall mounted lights that use the ceiling as a natural reflector. Light can indeed transform the darkness and also one’s spirit.
  • To visually activate the newly lighted environments and add energy and enjoyment, place hanging sculptures in the dramatize, eye catching vertical and horizontal spaces of the building.
  • Remover the barriers leading to the upper terrace level and enclose the courtyard to make it a habitable space for both users and visitors.

Architecture is a pitiless window through which one sees the true nature of the times and its people, thier values and aspirations, and their commitment to both the past and the future.

Could this current picture of City Hall truly be how we feel about ourselves? All of us who love Boston can do better.

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