Will Herald readers avoid the new Government Center T stop?

Always ready to assume the worst, Herald readers are busy contemplating the downside of the glass entrances the T wants to build as part of a Government Center upgrade, because, as writer Richard Weir helpfully explains, they could "explode into flying shards of lethal shrapnel should a bomb ever be detonated there." Except the T says they couldn't because they'll use safety glass (and good luck getting that song out of your head; you're welcome).

Also, there will be barriers around the station to keep would-be Tim McVeighs away (hopefully a bit more tasteful than the big balls around the O'Neill building).


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    The problem is not the potential for glass

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    to be lethal. The problem is that the T insists on wasting money building fancy glass and steel entrance structures that are totally non-functional.

    Say what you will about the current brick entrance, it works.

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    Brick is fine, so long as there is some surface shade

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    The cost and non-functionality of steel and glass is what I thought the complaint would be about (after the Kenmore quasi-greenhouse debacle), but alas, that seems to be getting less attention.

    Whatever happens at GC, it must include shade trees on the surface and some kind of cooling system in the station. The place is intolerably and sometimes dangerously hot from May through September.

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    I agree.

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    Lack of an effective cooling system (the fans they have don't count - even when they're working)- especially in the summer - is one of the reasons I gave up taking inbound trains to Government Center and waiting for a North Station or Lechmere car there instead of waiting at Boylston.

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    I'm not sure that they need a

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    I'm not sure that they need a cooling system. After all, when they built the tunnels, they were very cool, simply by virtue of being underground. Nowadays, however, there is all sorts of equipment dumping heat in there, not least of which are the AC units on the trains. If the trains would turn off their AC before entering the tunnel (perhaps cooling the radiators faster by hitting them with a little blast of chilled air at a convenient spot), I bet we'd see a substantial improvement. Likewise, we really ought to evict the shops in the stations that have hot food or refrigerators. (Ice chests for cold drinks would be okay) Relying on passive cooling would also be much more environmentally friendly.

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    I spent the weekend in New

    I spent the weekend in New York. Amazingly, every subway entrance looks just like the unadorned stairs at Arlington station -- functional, clear in purpose, unobtrusive. I doubt very much that a fancy glass palace will make the green line run any better than it does now.

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    But have you seen what they

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    But have you seen what they are proposing for the new stations on the (in construction) Second Avenue subway line? The renderings they have released show - surprise - glass and steel greenhouse structures.

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    Ignorance is bliss, I

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    Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

    How do you propose the current headhouse accommodate the overheard clearance for the elevators?

    OH WAIT, IT CANNOT.

    Cripes.

    Am I a huge fan of the glass? Not as such. But in the long run, it's actually more efficient (natural light into the station) since they have to demolish the existing headhouse anyway.

    Double fxcking cripes.

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    I doubt glass is more

    I doubt glass is more efficient. It would allow natural light into a small part of the station during the day, but it would also make the station very hot in summer, and be expensive to maintain.

    There's a reason why older buildings were built of wood or masonry with reasonably-sized windows. Glass walls look futuristic, but they don't accomplish much else.

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    GC user daily...

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    GC user daily here, and no the brick entrance doesn't work. Bottlenecks at the fare gates, bottlenecks at the top of the stairs and bottlenecks at the charlie machines. Terrible (non-existent) HVAC, a main staircase which blocks the platform, 0 elevator access.

    The current government center doesn't work. Glass won't fix those things, but glass would probably be cheaper than a new (uglier) brick head house.

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    I would suspect that much of

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    I would suspect that much of the cost of this project is for the elevators/elevator shafts, the relocated stairs/escalators to accomodate the elevator shafts, the 8-inch raised Green Line platforms, etc. If the existing brick bunker has to be replaced to do all these things anyway, how much more is a modern looking headhouse going to cost vs. some sort of replica of the existing early 1960s structure? Probably not much more. And it will probably be another 40-60 years or more before major work like this would be done again at that station, so the capital expense to build it, when carried over the estimated life of the structure, is really not that much.

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    I wonder about this too. Why

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    I wonder about this too. Why spend all the money to redo this all fancy instead of spending it on something functional. Or even more pay for T employees

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    Unreinforced Masonry

    I would wager that, in earthquakes and bombings, collapsing unreinforced masonry structures kill more people than flying glass, however nasty flying glass may be.

    Consider as well that a collapsed masonry structure also means a blocked exit.

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    Why don't Herald readers move

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    Why don't Herald readers move to NH and stop whining. The are the most surely people and would fit right in there.

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    "Think of the terrorists" is

    "Think of the terrorists" is pretty much a catch-all these days.

    I think the MBTA should stop publishing bus locations because a terrorist might use it to find a bus to blow up. We should also outlaw all cameras in public places since they could be used to take pictures and video of public buildings or critical infrastructure, you know, to attack them! (Plus someone might film the police doing their jobs, and we can't have that now, can we?)

    Are people really so afraid that a terror attack is considered a legitimate argument against a glass structure in a public square? I think costs are a legitimate concern, but terrorists?

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    That darn song...

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    "Everybody look at your hands!" Darn you UHub! Get it out of my head!

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    No love for the Modern Lovers?

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    I really thought the link was going to be "Government Center" by the Modern Lovers.

    "We got a lot, a lot, a lot of hard work today. We gotta rock at the Government Center!"

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    All the people over at the

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    All the people over at the Herald that are complaining about the cost and why dont they take the money and do this or do that, have NO idea about how government and government financed projects work. Projects like that are planned years in advance and have to meet specific requirements to receive state and federal funding. You can't just take the money and then use it for something else! Money approved for a specific project has to be used on that project. The Government Center project is part of the larger ongoing MBTA accessibility overhaul, which I believe has lots of state and fed money tied to it.

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    As I've stated in other posts

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    this practice is part of the problem. Why? Because stating "you must spend your budget on this project and can't use ANY of the money allocated for anything else" only encourages wasteful spending - like the proposed steel and glass structures.

    I agree that Government Center station needs to be rebuilt with adequate escalators and elevators to improve accessibility. But you don't need unnecessary and wasteful "greenhouses" to accomplish that goal.

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    Not so sure

    One reason the feds specify the purpose of the money so tightly is because they have had some bad experiences with waste when they don't do so - like bridges half built to nowhere, etc.

    Just imagine what kind of useless ego monuments to Menino would sprout up, and what sort of patronage favoritism projects would be bestowed on the right people if the money were unfettered!

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    As for the Hancock, then?

    As for the Hancock, then? That's GC times 60 stories.

    Also, I don't see anything wrong with the T improvements being modern filigree steel and glass structures. I see them as welcomed breaths of modernity to this city. This is probably the brainwashing talking (aka architecture school), but yes, you shouldn't design around aesthetics, but they need to be taken into some consideration. The ziggurat is functional, but that's it. These new filigree structures bring in welcomed natural light while the shade structures/devices strategically block out direct gain. I see Arlington, Copley, etc as Boston saying "hey we're not just an old-fart of a city, we're in the modern age too."

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    you get

    +100 points for using the word ziggurat outside of any of my Ancient Worlds courses. Well done!

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    Glass sucks at Kenmore busway

    The glass busway at Kenmore is horrible in the summer. You wait for the buses and try to find a few spots of shade behind the maps and pillars. On top of that it provides even less shelter from the wind in the winter than the old brick busway.

    We have an architectural fetish for south-facing glass atria here. I remember a few common studios in the "award-winning" Mass Art dorm. Nobody could work in them during the day because the low sun blazes in and blinds you if it doesn't cook you.

    I may be a fuddy-duddy but isn't it obvious that glass has become a common wall material in public buildings because it's cheap? Glass overuse in modernism is in many cases another example of our impoverished society coming up with aesthetic arguments to make us feel better about our economic descent.

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    Let's not forget Ashmont

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    Which looks a lot like Kenmore, only longer.

    And Aquarium (if they'd been thinking, they should have made those headhouses look like goldfish bowls).

    South Station, too, but those at least have those weird shapes going for them.

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    If you're talking about the

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    If you're talking about the old Ashmont station, yes, I'd very much like to forget it. After dealing with that pigeon guano-encrusted eyesore, the new headhouse is a very welcome addition, glass or no glass.

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    EM gets Bingo

    Spot on with this:

    I may be a fuddy-duddy but isn't it obvious that glass has become a common wall material in public buildings because it's cheap? Glass overuse in modernism is in many cases another example of our impoverished society coming up with aesthetic arguments to make us feel better about our economic descent.

    I was wondering why Roadman was calling the glass structures "wasteful spending on greenhouses" when it's pretty damn obvious that they are essentially glossy prefab panel construction and way cheaper to slap up than fully-built out masonry structures.

    I suspect that there are earthquake codes involved too, and Boston actually does have a history of damaging and fatal quakes.

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    Whenever I hear someone say

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    Whenever I hear someone say how "bright" the interior of a new / renovated building will be, I know what to expect. Blinding sun blasting in almost constantly, and no escape from it.

    There is an obsession among architects and interior designers these days to use as much natural light as possible, and back it up with white walls and white ceilings.

    The result is uncomfortable and sterile.

    Bemoan the design trends of the '70s all you like, but the decade brought us some cozy spaces with indirect lighting and natural materials that didn't have 99% reflectivity ratings.

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    As an architect here in

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    As an architect here in Boston it gets very frustrating. People here refuse change, they see glass as the opulent overly expensive modern thing. When in reality glass is now common place and cost effective, it is actually more labor intensive and expensive to build masonry structures, I know, I have helped design my share around the country. Bostonian's and more importantly the different neighborhood associations (Back Bay being the worst!) think of the brick and classical row style design as so precocious that they never want to change it. But think of it this way, the city of Berlin has LOADS of classical architecture much older then what we have in Boston, yet they have NO problem with injecting modern architecture into there environment. They have the theory that what is classic now will be ancient in the future, and if you don't put in something that is currently modern we will never have any classical in the future everything will just turn to ancient. I very much subscribe to this theory and applaude things like the Apple Store, the Charles T station and other things when they pop up in heavily "classic" areas. Some day our kids and grand kids will be in the city and call what refer to as modern a classic.

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    Bostonians don't trust architects

    Who built the terrible Government Center station in the first place? Most of the major structures built in Boston in the last 50 years were built with arrogance or just plain hate towards the population. I can give you many different views of natural features, beautiful buildings or structures from the golden age of Boston off the top of my head that are destroyed by abusive buildings and will be wrecked for 50 or 100 years.

    The architecture profession has to go a long way towards regaining the trust of people it dictated to for so many years. If that takes the form of unreasonable demands on you then blame your professors, they screwed it up for you.

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    I <3 Brutalism and I'm no architecht

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    There are so many amazing modern buildings in this city. The Federal Reserve building, City Hall, the Hurley building, Financial Center.
    You sound like you just don't appreciate a good dose of Brutalism or modern architecture in general. But there are also plenty of people out there who do adore those buildings.

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    You're in the minority

    So he just a guy who disdain modern architecture? You're in the minority. Most people find buildings like City Hall ugly.

    A google search list can find many articles that we are not alone. http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/200...

    Most people in general does not find it aesthetically pleasing. Think it like this. Aesthetics is universal and that means almost all people always agree on what's beautiful. There's always some that find something most people find ugly as pretty, but most don't.

    We can put it like this. How many find the older style of architecture ugly? How many find modern architecture ugly? I lean that the latter have many more naysayers.

    To dismiss him as just lacking appreciation is insulting. His (and my) opinion is as valid as yours, but the great majority agrees with us. You have yours reasons, but it doesn't include superior taste on architecture. Those on the other side are usually architects who apparently have warped their sense of aesthetics (since it is mostly architects) that on just being different rather than on universal aesthetics (things that philosophers like Socrates have studied about and noted that there are styles that tend to win more acclaim than others).

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    regular modernist crap is bad enough

    I didn't mean to blast this poor guy, I hope he uses every bit of his imagination to make great buildings. I also don't know if there is any way to make a good-looking Government Center station in its present environment. There may be an over-reaction to new ideas in building but it comes from a real experience of abuse at the hands of modern architecture.

    Modernism turned architecture into an avant-garde art, and that included a mission to disorient and discombobulate the middle class and their notions about building. Some architects expressed this by throwing out all the features of regular buildings which expressed what you were supposed to do. For instance the classical state house has a defined entryway. So avant-garde architects responded by trying to throw out the entryway... except you couldn't figure out how to get into the building. And so on.

    On a larger level, a state house, city hall, or a train station has a design which tells us how to behave, and it's different from a shopping mall or an office park. Modernism altered this so we don't get those cues from the buildings now. So that was all done with some theory in mind and I get how people can admire that.

    (Although I think there's a connection between a movement which set out to deconstruct the middle class, and the fact that it found a lot of friends in a government/financial system which has been very harmful to the middle class. But that's another subject...)

    What really bugs me is the effect on your garden variety building, which has turned into castoff junk with no over-riding reason to be Modern except that it's cheaper. You can see these things everywhere... walk down the Charles River and the Eliot Bridge is backed by the Mt. Auburn Hospital, walk around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and the horizon is junked up by the tall apartment buildings on Comm. Ave. These aren't architectural monuments, they're just out-of-place bullies that steadily destroy our spirit.

    There was a time when architecture was meant to raise your spirits and in fact make you happy and comfortable. We have plenty of examples of that kind of building around the city. I'm not saying new building has to look like the old but you do get the feeling that we had a society back then that was wealthier not just in money but in spirit.

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    Infill versus "Urban Renewal"

    The biggest sin of brutalism in Boston was the belief that entire areas could be cleared and rebuilt with a sameness of newness.

    Boston simply doesn't have a good idea of what to do with infill. Infill being "putting things where non-significant structures are removed" and "putting things in where there are spaces". Its either bulldoze everything or declare the most mundane triple decker to be a historic landmark.

    What our architect friend here is speaking about is infill of new within old. That is a functional and time-tested practice of evolutionary revitalization.

    What Boston tends to get stuck on is demanding that nothing old ever be removed, nothing bigger ever be built, and anything new look just exactly like old. This reactionary behavior came about in part because some believed that complete destruction and complete rebuild was somehow a positive thing to do, and it was a bad deal for just about all involved save the developers. The dysfunctional policy of meaningless zoning and sameness demands leads to stagnation, to a lack of affordable space for small business and home ownership, to ugly "colonoids" bursting forth like pimples with their out-of-scale elements on large buildings colonials would never have built that way, and to ugly non-functional inaccessible landscapes.

    Boston needs to learn to have infill, including having a zoning policy that means that building as of right can occur without everybody ponying up to threaten lawsuits or demand goodies.

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    SwirlyGrrl thanks for

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    SwirlyGrrl thanks for furthering my point!

    To the others, yes I am an architect, but guess what, I hate City Hall, it's a terrible design and a bad representation of brutalist architecture.

    I also believe that the BRA needs to be completely disbanded and redone from the ground up, from outside City Hall with no influence from the Mayor's office.

    Architecture is a form of design, which makes it a form of art. We all know art is completely subjective, I am all for people to be able to debate designs and ideas, but what I don't support is people being closed minded about new design, wishing only to rehash old ideas over and over because they are comfortable with them.

    I think we have exhausted this for now, but I will leave you with this. Let's just hope that this newly designed MBTA station will be the spark that sets off a complete redesign of the whole plaza.

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    Why do you assume there

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    Why do you assume there should even be a plaza? We ought to restore the old street grid, which would provide plenty of room for a newer city hall occupying the block bounded by Hanover, Elm, Brattle, and Scollay Sq. And while I'm not so hidebound that I think architects cannot build beautiful buildings in modern styles, it is a fact that they almost never can, and that there have been no worthwhile styles of architecture since Beaux-Arts and Art Deco. So unless some genius can come up with a brand new style that is actually beautiful, as opposed to the dross of the last many decades, redevelopment may as well follow traditional styles so that the end product is actually pleasing to the eye. Even infill should not be modern in appearance until there is a modern appearance that is acceptable. The Apple Store and Charles/MGH are ugly, btw. The former is a pointless glass box which will have to be demolished the moment glass is no longer the fashion of the day, or if a new tenant wants to do anything new with the space. The latter is just a shinier, bluer, el station. I'm not sure you can have a beautiful el station, really. Of course there was a plan floated to put an entire building over there, which might have worked. You can see it on this page.

    As for architecture being art, it is an art that has to put the needs and tastes of the public and the client foremost. It is not a field in which the personal artistic desires of the artist matter much; he isn't going to have to live with the thing for the next hundred years or more. If an architect wants to indulge his artistic sensibilities, and present a challenge for the public, he needs to be a sculptor instead of an architect. (And to stay out of public art, which also is not the right field for that. Awful sculpture like the thing at Porter Sq. or those creepy baby heads should not be thrust into the public eye.)

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    I like the Porter Square wind sculpture

    It is a major landmark and something people enjoy watching. Why do you dislike it?

    City Hall Plaza is heavily used during warm weather months for various concerts and events. It should be redesigned, made greener and smaller, but not entirely abolished. Moving all of these events to Boston Common (or Christopher Columbus Park or Copley Square) would quickly rip up the grass there.

    While I'm not a big fan of most brutalism or modern architecture, I do think the Christian Science Center and the John Hancock Building both beautify our city. As does the Design Research (most recently Crate & Barrel) building on Brattle St. in Harvard Square.

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    It is a major landmark and

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    It is a major landmark and something people enjoy watching. Why do you dislike it?

    Any large, prominent piece of art there would be a landmark. You could put Cleopatra's Needle there, and it would work as a landmark. It's not attractive. It moves, which is marginally interesting, I guess, though it doesn't move very well. It has no particular relationship to the area. Though I admit that it would be tough to manage that for Porter Square, unless it was a bronze steak or something, which is just silly. It's your fairly standard piece of plop art.

    Moving all of these events to Boston Common (or Christopher Columbus Park or Copley Square) would quickly rip up the grass there.

    If all you want is a featureless plaza, I'm sure there's got to be some room to put one in on the South Boston Waterfront. Personally I would prefer to make improvements to Franklin Park and transit to get people there, to absorb most of them, while dispersing others around the rest of the city.

    the Christian Science Center

    The actual church is fine, as is the publishing building and the library. The other buildings in the complex are predictably awful. The reflecting pool is nice, but the plaza could certainly use some more shade; it is brutal in the summer.

    the John Hancock Building

    The old ones are fine. The new one is an ugly, wholly generic glass box, which wasn't even well-designed (aside from the infamous windows, it was in danger of collapse for a while). The only reason people like it is because on a good day it reflects the sky and thus you can avoid seeing the thing for what it really is. And even then, it's still rubbish at street level.

    the Design Research

    Really? It's just big windows on concrete slabs. The alleyway is convenient, but I'd bet there was an easement there already, rather than that being something clever by the architect.

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    Hey Anonymous When I said

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    Hey Anonymous

    When I said redesign the plaza I never said keep it purely a plaza, it could be open to anything. Although the current plaza is indeed a gathering place for events, protests, and such and I think that is an appropriate use for something at a public building such as city hall. Does it have to be as big? No. But just putting back the streets as they once were isn't necessarily the answer either. We all know how inefficient Boston's streets are and just simply putting back the pre-eminate domain streets is not accomplishing what it could be, not to mention the amount of cost associated with trying to put streets back. All the services, electrical, sewage, water, etc. The entire Government Center tunnel system is under this plaza between there and haymarket, all the turn around and service areas for the trolleys, that would be a Big Dig like undertaking. Why not keep it a gathering place, but make it more successful, plant a lot of it, not just grass but also trees, create some small public structures that could hold bathrooms or a cafe like PO square or the Frog Pond, elements that would draw people there and make it a more successful space.

    I disagree that there have been no successful styles since Art Deco and Beaux-Arts. I think the current modern style is very successful. I am not talking about the ultra modern style of the 60s and 70s but the modern movement of the 90s and 2000s. Look at any work by Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster. I could go on and on, and yes those are three people at the very top of the list when it comes to modern design, but there are tons of unknowns out there that have studied these people extensively that are just as bright and talented. This is also an argument neither of us would win because we both feel how we feel about things and it's fine to disagree. However I feel that just simply putting back what was there is just like being afraid to insert something new into something old. Not to sound all high and mighty because I am FAR from that, but there is a quote that I always try to remember, "The only thing that is constant in this world is change" For all we know 100-200 years from now we could be living in a world straight out of Minority Report!

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    Although the current plaza is

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    Although the current plaza is indeed a gathering place for events, protests, and such and I think that is an appropriate use for something at a public building such as city hall.

    That is disingenuous. The vast majority of the time, no one uses the plaza for anything at all. People just walk across it, baking in the sun in the summer, or freezing in the wind in the winter. If there is to be an open space at all, a smaller one would work just as well most of the time.

    We all know how inefficient Boston's streets are

    You say that as though it is a bad thing. Efficiency brought us the artery, efficiency brought us the Pike, efficiency demolished the SW corridor, and tried to do the same thing to the Fens and Cambridgeport with the Inner Belt. The city is at its most charming when it is at its least car-friendly. The North End, Beacon Hill, Bay Village, Creek Square -- we could use more of this. And we had it until people came in with talk of efficiency.

    Besides, look at major cities like London, Paris, and New York trying to get rid of traffic by charging tolls, eliminating parking, shutting down whole streets. Cars are terrible for cities. They keep pedestrians off of the streets, consume huge amounts of space for parking lots, are bad for the local environment, demand huge road projects which fill up and require even more road construction ad infinitum, take riders away from mass transit, and inhabitants away to suburbs. Redesigning the street grid to be hostile to private cars would be swell!

    All the services, electrical, sewage, water, etc. The entire Government Center tunnel system is under this plaza between there and haymarket, all the turn around and service areas for the trolleys, that would be a Big Dig like undertaking.

    Ignoring that they already did all of that when they built Government Center the first time -- the trolleys don't use all the same tunnels that they used to, for example -- it is not nearly so tough as the Dig was. The problem with the Dig was keeping the Artery in place and operating while they built the tunnel. I propose that we temporarily move the various government offices in the area -- city, county, and state for sure, federal if at all possible -- into temporary offices for a few years, while we demolish everything, move tunnels and utilities slightly if necessary with cheap cut and cover methods (which is how it was done back in the day -- the trolley was in the open air between Scollay Sq. and Haymarket), and quickly rebuild. This could probably be done in five years, maybe less.

    Plus, works projects are important right now, to get people employed, especially in the building trades.

    elements that would draw people there and make it a more successful space.

    I'm dubious of parks, really. To get people to be there, you need a mixture of retail (all sorts), offices, residential, and entertainment. The Financial District is dead at nights and on the weekends because of a lack of restaurants open for dinner, entertainment other than the odd bar or two, but mainly lack of residences, and too many offices. A park can draw people when the weather is nice, but it is no good at night, so there's half the time right there, and if the surroundings don't have the right mix of uses, there may not be anyone around to use it even when it is viable. For example, the parks on top of the Dig see very little use (especially between the Aquarium and South Stn.) due to a lack of people who are in the area but are free to use them. Parks strike me as a cheap fix, destined to not do a good job.

    And speaking of the parks on top of the Dig, I'd like to see infill -- which matches the existing character of the neighborhoods, so as to make the transition more seamless -- in the Bullfinch Triangle, Hanover St., and Aquarium-Rowe's Whrf. sections. Atlantic and Purchase are way too big, and those, combined with a sort of agoraphobic effect by having a big open space between two dense areas, still make it tougher to go across there than it ought to be.

    I think the current modern style is very successful. I am not talking about the ultra modern style of the 60s and 70s but the modern movement of the 90s and 2000s.

    They're the same movement, except that engineering has improved so that instead of building big, ugly glass boxes with slide rules, we can build big, ugly glass blobs with computers.

    Look at any work by Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster.

    I did, and I'd be very honored to be given the opportunity to implode any of them. The world does not need more of this junk.

    This is also an argument neither of us would win because we both feel how we feel about things and it's fine to disagree.

    If bad architects like the ones you mention want to build an imaginary model city full of their bland and repetitive buildings, then that's great. That is what they should do to really exercise their creative spirit. Then we could argue about whether it was any good or not, and it would be purely a matter of taste.

    But actually building the damn things makes a lot of people miserable, and wastes an opportunity to build something really beautiful and beneficial. Bad architecture is an injury inflicted on the people who have to live with it. It's too important to allow screw ups, yet screw ups are all we seem to have working in the field these days.

    However I feel that just simply putting back what was there is just like being afraid to insert something new into something old.

    I disagree on the streets -- Boston's street grid is really excellent, and modern changes, superblocks, etc. have been bad for it. As for infill generally, I have nothing at all against building new buildings in new styles. Provided that the new styles are at least as good as the old ones. I am very upset that there haven't been any good new styles of architecture for so long; we could really use some.

    For all we know 100-200 years from now we could be living in a world straight out of Minority Report!

    Yes, that is exactly the sort of thing I am complaining about.

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    Take off your blindfold.

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    Why do you assume there should even be a plaza? We ought to restore the old street grid, which would provide plenty of room for a newer city hall occupying the block bounded by Hanover, Elm, Brattle, and Scollay Sq...
    I propose that we temporarily move the various government offices in the area -- city, county, and state for sure, federal if at all possible -- into temporary offices for a few years, while we demolish everything, move tunnels and utilities slightly if necessary with cheap cut and cover methods (which is how it was done back in the day -- the trolley was in the open air between Scollay Sq. and Haymarket), and quickly rebuild. This could probably be done in five years, maybe less.

    I disagree with you saying we need to rip up the whole plaza and throw back the original streets of Scollay Square and put the subway above ground (“like it should be”). Times have changed, and car traffic in the area has changed. But yes, it’s nice to have the subway above ground; however, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to Government Center and tried to imagine those subways being above ground. Now imagine the existing streets and their heavy traffic along with these new above ground trains. Okay, getting pretty hectic and dangerous for pedestrians isn’t it? Next, you argue that you would like to see the old street pattern of the original Scollay Square implemented back into the City Hall Plaza. On top of the already heavy traffic in the area, the above ground train and now the addition of more streets and intersections creates even more chaos.

    How about we keep the square we have and build upon it, which I’m pretty sure is what Jeff is getting at. When he says redesign the plaza, he does not mean to keep it as one large open space as it is. It’s simply not engaging as it is, and can simply be broken up into smaller spaces with different uses. Check out the Chan Krieger proposal for the plaza: . And I can’t wait to read your next comment because it is most likely going to involve the glass subway station in the rendering. Look at the larger concept behind the rendering.

    And while I'm not so hidebound that I think architects cannot build beautiful buildings in modern styles, it is a fact that they almost never can, and that there have been no worthwhile styles of architecture since Beaux-Arts and Art Deco.

    Who says there hasn’t been any worthwhile style of architecture since the Beaux-Arts and Art Deco? From what it sounds like is you want to go back to a world of all the previous architectural styles. Why can’t styles evolve? Our world is constantly evolving and changing so why can’t architecture? No, maybe the brutalist architecture wasn’t one of the best styles (in retrospect), but hey, at least the architects put themselves and their ideas out there, like artists too. Plus, have you ever heard of the saying “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”? Everyone has different tastes and we can all sit here and argue our beliefs, but what people need to understand is that the world is changing so why should architecture still be stuck in the past? Why shouldn’t architecture be allowed to evolve?

    If an architect wants to indulge his artistic sensibilities, and present a challenge for the public, he needs to be a sculptor instead of an architect. (And to stay out of public art, which also is not the right field for that. Awful sculpture like the thing at Porter Sq. or those creepy baby heads should not be thrust into the public eye.)

    This statement is just pure ignorance. Art is an expression, just like architecture, and you’re more than welcome to dislike the work, but you shouldn’t go around saying that artists/architects shouldn’t design work for the public unless everyone likes it. That just goes against everything art is about.

    Even infill should not be modern in appearance until there is a modern appearance that is acceptable.

    Acceptable to who? You? Not everyone is going to agree on the same idea of beauty or acceptable modern architecture. What you’re saying is to basically rebuild the infill to look exactly like what was standing there before because not everyone agrees on what is “beautiful”.

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