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Happy City Hall Selection Day

Other designs for Boston City Hall

A couple of alternate designs.

Today is the anniversary of the 1962 selection of the design, by architects Gerhard Kallmann, Noel McKinnell and Edward Knowles for the crate Faneuil Hall came in Boston City Hall.

The Boston City Archives has posted photos of mockups of some of the losing designs. Think any were better?

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Comments

That circle one is Silicon Valley

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I like where the round one was going, but no windows on the exterior at all?? That seems...depressing. The biggest faux pas from the designers on that presentation though is landscaping with palm trees, for a New England building.

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Looks like it should be attached to a peaceful application of atomic energy!

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California has always loved its sunshine.

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See how the plaza, rather than being all on one level, is broken up with steps?

That's to make it harder for anybody, in the future, to thwart the architect's vision by, you know, actually using the plaza for some purpose.

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Epic brutalise prevailed. Maybe one of these days they'll get that water fountain up and running. A 24/7jumbotron would be nice.

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All of them?

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I'm glad we were spared that one that looks like an ark.

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Maybe the winning design was picked because it looks like the crate Faneuil Hall came in. On what planet did the others look like Boston buildings?

I kind of liked the circular one but its got no Boston architectural vernacular at all. It looks more like a concert hall in an emerging nation.

For my money, the only semi-recent (non-Revolutionary era) government building I've seen in Boston that's decent is the Post Office Building in Post Office Square and maybe the Adams Courthouse. Functional is the best we seem to be able to hope for.

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The point was to not look like "Boston buildings" and to move the city into the future of office parks and highways.

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Lets not forget a lot of cities and groups were moving in that direction around that time. There was a lot of support from the community and government for these style projects and architecture, although nowadays we only hear about the detractors who in retrospect where insightful.

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For better or worse, City Hall is the iconic symbol of the "New" Boston vision of the late 50's/early 60's. Some (many) call it ugly, but its also certainly interesting. I'll take that over boring and cookie cutter. Since the plaza seemingly will never be redeveloped, my wish would be to restore Hanover Street up to Cambridge Street, restore the north side of Cornhill, and reopen the closed northern entrance/exit of Government Center station on Hanover.
If I had a vote to nuke a brutalist architecture style building in Boston, it would absolutely be the Government Service Center (aka Hurley and Lindermann) building. Man, that place is just plain awful. And it was never completed anyway!

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Keep it as a warning to others to not repeat the same mistake.

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Boston City Council Chamber for Public Meetings isn't comfortable for observing.

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I'm pretty sure I've suggested this to you before: Go sit in the media/staff section, where the seats are comfortable enough that if the meeting gets boring for long enough you might find yourself dozing off, especially in the upper rows, where they have the lights dimmed. Nobody ever checks to see if you are, in fact, press or staff. As a courtesy, maybe don't sit in the front row, just so on the odd occasion when a reporter actually shows up, he or she can be a bit closer to the action so they can take photos with their zoom lens if they're too lazy to get up.

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You don't make it out to other cities and towns often do you? None of them are designed with comfort in mind. At least in the Boston City Council Chambers you can stand up and move around without being too obvious about it because the floor is removed from the seating. In many town and city halls, if you are in the Chamber and have to stand up and move around it is a major distraction.

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... and a worrisome lack of fire exits.

Why hasn't They Might Be Giants done a song about City Hall Plaza? They did one for the eternally more surreal Empire State Plaza in Albany, NY

It could be much worse:

IMAGE(http://image.newyorkupstate.com/home/nyup-media/width960/img/photo-gallery/photo/2015/05/13/-8adbcec1ee06e366.jpg)

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As you were posting this I was searching for links to Albany Plaza. There is no shortage of brutalist concrete government buildings from that era. At the time it seemed like a good idea.

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Long before it was called the Empire State Plaza, the massive project in Albany was called The South Mall. Growing up nearby, and watching the entire thing being built was fascinating. In many ways I think it's stunningly beautiful.

Underneath the huge plaza shown in your picture is an immense concourse that connects all the buildings together, extending through to the old capitol building. The concourse has food courts, shops and other services, and an underground bus station. Albany's weather is even worse than Boston, so having a climate-controlled "underground city" is a wonderful feature.

Unfortunately, that's all there is in downtown Albany. The state workers who fill up the plaza and concourse during weekdays go home to the suburbs, leaving the place desolate and unused most of the time, save for an occasional festival here and there. There's a big highway (still called the South Mall Expressway) leading into the plaza and it's many levels of underground parking. But the plaza does not interface well with pedestrians and the surrounding neighborhoods.

In Boston, such an underground (or elevated) concourse would have been a great thing to include, connecting the "Government Center" buildings with stations and other attractions. It would be more useful even (or especially) in bad weather.

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... was supposedly connected to Haymarket Station once upon a time -- but this was connection was sealed off after a terrorist incident (Murrah Building? First World Trade Center bombing?).

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No, I wasn't a federal employee in the 80s, but I wasted a lot of time on the T, including transferring at Haymarket. I've never seen an exit crossing Congress.

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I think he might be talking about The Federal Reserve and South Station. There was/is a connector to the Fed and the concourse under Dewey Sq. Took a wrong turn once when I was a teenager and had guys with guns firmly point me in the right direction.

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The Federal Reserve connector is still there. During the workday, you can see people using an unmarked door which leads to a security checkpoint.

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... long ago by an old-timer at JFK Center. ;-)

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Around 2009 the BSA had an event where they displayed original materials produced by the architects at KMK. One of the more interesting features in the earlier drawings (later excluded due to budget) was a deck that extended the Plaza over Congress Street and then down a staircase directly in front of Faneuil Hall.

That would be a great thing to build. The east side of City Hall creates a blah streetscape, and would be coll to cover up Congress Street the same way the Big Dig covered up i93.

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that it is a product of the time, but that brutalist architecture did not age well.

Another casualty of sorts is the current MSG (IV) built on the site of the old Penn Station. That project actually spurred the creation of the NYC Landmarks authority, or whatever it's called.

Anecdotarlly, Cuomo has an idea to turn the old NYC post office (itself a beautiful building) into a new train hall.

Back to Boston, whatever happened to the idea of moving City Hall to Roxbury or someplace that is more of a geographical center of the city? I know $$ was an issue. I wouldn't be upset to see the city do something with the land that City Hall and the associated brutalist buildings in govt. plaza that looks better and makes better use of that real estate.

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Anecdotarlly, Cuomo has an idea to turn the old NYC post office (itself a beautiful building) into a new train hall.

That's not an idea - it's reality. Ground broke in 2010, and it's essentially complete now. There was some faulty concrete that they're having to replace, which pushed the opening back, but after that's done the new concourse should open any time. Then sometime this year construction should begin on the rest of the old Farley Post Office building to create an additional train hall for NYP.

Back to Boston, whatever happened to the idea of moving City Hall to Roxbury or someplace that is more of a geographical center of the city?

I haven't heard about that idea, but the city has moved a few things to Dudley Square, including BPS offices. And the state has long talked about relocating MassDOT from 10 Park Plaza to Roxbury.

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Remember when the State moved The RMV to Ruggles, How'd that work out?

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The location was completely irrelevant to the problems encountered. The problems would have happened if they built the same building in Weston or in Springfield or by North Station.

The crisis had everything to do with cutting corners on construction such that the ventilation moved through the ceiling plenum spaces and picked up molds, ratshit, etc. - all sorts of highly allergenic biologicals plus some irritant off-gassing from construction materials and wiring that you generally don't get when you have ducting.

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Wait, what? That's news to me.

Hmm, it seems like Moynihan Station Phase 1 is actually just an expansion of the West End Concourse. That's the weird 1980s platform exit staircases nobody knows about, on the wrong side of the 8th Avenue Subway, which are deserted most of the time except when confused suburbanites end up there by mistake.

They're adding elevators, and two small street entrances under the corners of the Post Office, on 8th Avenue at 31st and 33rd. https://esd.ny.gov/subsidiaries_projects/msdc/msdcrenderings.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Station_(New_York_City)#Moynihan_Station says completion is expected in 2016.

I'm not sure why an expansion of passageways nobody uses is worth $267 million. But once again nobody bothered to ask me. (If someone had, my first priority would be adding elevators at the main street entrances. If someone gets dropped off here https://goo.gl/maps/uDwNrbUuUJT2 or here https://goo.gl/maps/kr1yZhVqBy92 , it's totally non-obvious where the nearest elevator is. And once you know, it's very inconvenient to get there.)

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Move City Hall to a neighborhood with subpar transit? Not going to happen. It's what killed Menino's later dream of moving it to the seaport.

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Much like my take on the 2000 Presidential election, the choices were equally sub-par, so the choice was of the least worst.

Blame the 60s, but I have yet to find a government building from the period that looks good.

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The Student Center at MIT had an astounding amount of concrete removed in the late 1980s renovation - it wasn't structural, it was just brutal and in the way of a functional building with adequate space!

UMass went on a brutality spree, too, with UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston built out almost entirely from excessive concrete syndrome. UMass Lowell South Campus, too.

At UMass Amherst, there are some rather brutalized buildings, including the Campus Center. It looks like somebody dropped a concrete component into a circuit board slot.

IMAGE(https://fac.umass.edu/ArticleMedia/Images/umass-campus-center.jpg)

Doozies of brutalist fervor abound in Academia, and they don't always upcycle well. Fear of Atomic Bombs? Fortress mentality for the baby boom takeover? Who knows.

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[Dumb Question]

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Well as an architect I find all these submissions atrocious. That said, I can see why they selected Kallman McKinnel's design. As much as I despise it, it's clearly better then the others. A principal at my former employer on the West coast worked on this as a young designer. I got the impression he was proud that they won but wasn't what he would have done...

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