December 13, 2006

Mixed Reaction to Mayor Manino’s Plan For New Waterfront City Hall

Few love Boston's current city hall, an ugly structure easily mistaken for a massive parking garage surrounded by a "public plaza" so offputting that it often remains nearly empty even on beautiful summer days when nearby destinations like Quincy Market are bustling. However, I question Mayor Manino's solution: selling off the existing site and building a new one along the South Boston waterfront.

City Hall isn't just another building open to the public, like a museum or concert hall. As the seat of city government, it needs to be accessible to as many people as possible; and the available "silver line" bus service is vastly inferior to the network of trains around the current site. Without new light rail or trolley service connecting to existing lines, this will make it much more difficult for most workers and citizens to get there.

And while I understand the mayor's enthusiasm for remaking the South Boston waterfront, City Hall shouldn't be a neighborhood pioneer like, more appropriately, the new Institute of Contemporary Art. City Hall should be at a community's heart, not trying to help create a new one. Why not open up the existing site to some sort of public/private partnership competition to build a better, new City Hall along with other, private square footage to help foot the bill?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. The current location is perfect for City Hall, right in the heart of the city. Tearing the building now and building a mixed-use, pedestrian friendly replacement would be great. However, it would be sad to see the current one go. Just like we have lost a piece of history when they tore down Scollay Square, I wonder whether tearing down the current building would be yet again erasing another part of our history. It would be great if we can integrate the existing building into any new plans, along of course with a drastic rethinking of the plaza.