Beauty behind the ugly walls

The Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics put together this video of people getting married in City Hall. Also see the Tumblr site.



Free tagging: 


Brutalism Is Beautiful.

City Hall is a beautiful building with or without weddings.

People who don't appreciate such architecture are wrong and their opinions irrelevant [as much out of ignorance as incorrectness - they probably couldn't tell you anything about modern architecture].


I much prefer Empire State Plaza to Boston City Hall. Empire State Plaza is reminiscent of the Christian Science Plaza mixed with Brasilia. It's not for everyone, but it's really not that bad.

"Beauty is in the eye of..."

"People who don't appreciate such architecture are wrong and their opinions irrelevant..."

Your inferred knowledge of and appreciation of architecture may well mean that you deserve some sort of congratulations on your elevated status.

It also, however, most certainly means that you look down your nose at the great unwashed masses who are somehow not blessed with such knowledge. Yes, I think your statement is bogus, maybe even snobby.

Or maybe "appreciation" of architecture has nothing to do with actually using a building?

I have worked in that building and dislike it a lot, both inside and out. Even if it had ever been well-maintained (or maintained at all), I would feel the same.

Now tell me that I am wrong not to appreciate such architecture and that my opinion is irrelevant.

I doubt you have ever spent one entire day (or more) in City Hall. You most certainly deserve to do so. I read that Mayor-elect Walsh is looking for people. How about it?


Concrete Lover As Long As I Can Remeber

I actually spent quite a deal of time in and out of City Hall, and the vast underground complex beneath it, back when I was a bike messenger. There are a lot of really neat internal features to the building too that unfortunately are not fully open to the public, such as the interior courtyard. Also the interior was unable to be completed properly due to budgetary reasons. But what was completed correctly is pretty cool.

Some people just don't like Brutalist buildings or modern art and architecture in general. They will forever be dissatisfied with anything built or designed after the early 20th century, For me, the very first building I remember in detail and with love was not our house at the time, or my nursery school... but the Herbert F Johnson museum at Cornell, designed by IM Pei. I was lucky enough to be able to visit it many times while living in Ithaca as a small child, before moving here.

On moving here the first buildings I saw a lot of were Pei designed buildings at MIT, and then discovered further such treasures in the form of City Hall, the Government Services Building, and the buildings at the Christian Science Center, and the Federal Reserve building downtown.

BlackKat, if you are ever in Berlin


This is the base of the State TV Tower, about 1km east of where the wall used to run. It was built by the East Germans and is an awesome example of space-age concrete. You can't see it in the picture, but the tower itself is very Kremlinesque.

In fact, if you love concrete architecture, there is a lot of it in Berlin - particularly on the East Side, where buildings are being renovated and repurposed as needed. There is a fair amount of fun Brutalist Communist design in the TV tower area, as well as contrasting ancient buildings.

Kat, are you like the George

Kat, are you like the George Costanza character that pretends he is an architect ? That building sucks ,looks like something out of commie land.It's style and material makes it look like a parking garage . Considering the heritage and history of Boston , a fine granite building would be more appropriate. If I were the boss of Boston, I would reorganize Faneuil Hall Market and seize one of the buildings there to be the City Hall . I might not appreciate such architecture , but who are you to say my opinion is irrelevant .? Who made you the master cylinder of everything? Martin, tear down that building , job # 1 !!


kvn, are you an architect?

I like Gov't Center and am sure glad it wasn't built as another wanna-be-classic, stuck-in-the-19th-century granite building. Boston should be building in new architecture styles. We've got the history already, let's try our hand at building in some new styles and maybe in 150 years, some Bostonian will say, 'Considering the heritage and history of Boston , a fine [new style] building would be more appropriate.'

Also, I think that IM Pei library looks pretty cool.

Boston is building in new architecture styles

It's called box with a light-colored faux stone with glass. Very exciting stuff. Take a ride down Boylston Street in Fenway to see how exciting.

We do have some nice commercial buildings - Hancock, 101 Huntington, 75 State (granted - there's apparently some "history" on that) and though I'm not a fan, some like the new State Street Bank building and I can get that. Boston Harbor Hotel is another kind of functional architecture that respects history and its sense of place and the Intercontinental is nice for the uber modern look.

City Hall may be historic, but like a lot of buildings of that style it's not worth saving. Take pictures and put it in a book.

Build like a nice structure on the other side of the plaza that uses an office building fronting on Cambridge St to finance it with a city hall that embraces our history and faces Faneuil Hall and the Harbor - and respects history and turns its back on Beacon Hill. Put an amphitheater between the "arms" of the new building leading down to Faneuil Hall - maybe with a nice fountain or waterfall leading out to the harbor.

I walked by there this morning and between the barren landscape the gloom and the atrocity visible behind the sleet I almost threw up. Fortunately I was able to lower my umbrella before the nausea became too overpowering.

I guess you can call that a

I guess you can call that a 'new architectural style', but I think it's just generic bland architecture. Gov't Center was a new architectural style, for better or worse. So was The Custom House tower, which, by the way, was universally hated when it first went up. I bet after it's completion, Bostonians were saying "I walked by there this morning and between the barren landscape the gloom and the atrocity visible behind the sleet I almost threw up. Fortunately I was able to lower my umbrella before the nausea became too overpowering."

Boston is building new buildings, and there is some architecture, but there is no gamble. London is taking gambles and it has an even longer history than Boston does. Gov't Center was a gamble, and in my opinion, the imposing building across the brick wasteland is pretty cool to look at, but there is definite room for improvement. To destroy it would be a disservice to Boston, the taxpayers who paid to have it built, and architectural history.

What it looks like is less

What it looks like is less important than how it interacts with the rest of the city.

Boston City Hall and the plaza around it is a black hole which sucks the life out that part of the city. That is no accident. It was designed this way intentionally, in the 1960s, when city destruction was seen as a feature, not a bug.

Somehow, that needs to be changed. Whether that means replacing City Hall with a better building that plays nice with its surroundings, or cutting up the plaza superblock into normal city-sized blocks, and filling in the desolate space, I don't know yet. But something needs to be done eventually.

Kidding about Boylston

And the rest of the Lego block architecture going up in this town.

take a look a that building - even if you can get over the general style of architecture- it faces the wrong way - the entrance is never in the sun and even if you turned it around it would be like walking into a dark mouth of doom the way the door is recessed into the building.

It's 40 years old - and never really worked from day one. The only thing worse than the outside is the inside.

Again - turn it around - face the Harbor - get some sun and for the love of God and all things holy - stop torturing the people who work there by making them go inside that tomb of concrete morbidity. Looks like something they dropped on top of a leaky nuclear reactor to stop it from oozing death.

The disservice is to the taxpayers that have to go in there and the poor humans whose souls are robbed from them one day at a time from working in that environment.

No I Am not , but I took a

No I Am not , but I took a course in church architecture taught by the Jesuits once upon a time. Does that give me some sort of credibility to have an opinion? Maybe I have business in that building , that up the ante ? Seriously, dude , that building does not befit the City of Boston , and the location is a wasted use for that monstrosity of poured concrete slag pile . Its barren and bleak and is disconnected from the rich historic architecture of the area , with the exception of the falling apart parking garage past Haymarket. Get Duane down there and get to work wrecking.

Ever work - or try to work - in a 150+ year old building?

It isn't fun. We rotated offices according to who could tolerate the too-hot and too-cold ones. The roof leaked. We had a sewage flood in the lower floors. The ceiling in the conference room fell in after a heavy rain. Etc.

I'm happy that my work moved into a bland building that has adequate heating, ventilation, and dependable infrastructure. Boring as an IKEA showroom, but a lot healthier to be in.

Nothing to do with age

I used to work in a new (late 1990s) building which had many of the same problems. And not to be beat, the Brutalist-era building next door had a flood one day which wiped out all of the main computer room, which happened to be on the third floor.

I must be a minority of one

I may be a minority of one, but I LIKE the City Hall building and plaza. I like 133 Federal Street too. I was also sorry when they brought everything out to the sidewalk at the Saltonstall building. I liked it set back. I must just have strange taste in architecture, because everybody else seems to dislike those things.

I work in the Government Center area

My office has something of a view of City Hall Plaza. The problems isn't just City Hall itself. It's Center Plaza, the Saltonstall building and bricks as far as the eye can see.

The whole area is bricks and cement. So many broken, uneven bricks. So much cracked cement. If the city did something with the plaza, maybe people would view City Hall more favorably.



I like the building itself (except for the "back" facing quincy market) - but the plaza needs a lot of work. I think people want to tear it down mostly because of what happened to the west end.

It is beautiful

Great photos.

I work in City Hall and it's always a good day when I get on an elevator with a couple--and sometimes their entourage of family/friends--who are en route to/from their wedding on the 6th floor. They're glowing, dressed in their finest, and everything, even the building, is beautiful. They gracefully accept congrats from strangers like me. I smile long after I'm back in my dismal office space.

Some things are more important than architecture.


I must give a thumbs down

If a city hall is supposed to be a city's welcome mat then I don't feel very welcomed by this building at all. There should be razor wire surrounding the whole plaza- It looks like a huge, lumbering,bloated dinosaur about to stomp on you. Not quite as ugly as that leaden lump Johnson wing at the BPL but all in all I think it's pretty bad. I guess I just don't get Brutalism.


you sho' is ugly!

City Hall is like an old grandpa with a harelip and one eye bigger than the other, a leaky colostomy bag and bad breath....scares the hell out of you when you're little but after a while you realize he actually loves you and you start to look past all the external parts (and the internal parts that don't seem to work very well). It's not like you go and shoot grandpa in the head because he offends the senses. Uh...of course ....this is a building. That's supposed to be functional...

At any rate, does any one doubt for a second that if they rip that fucker down, the new city hall is going to be anything less than a massively expensive, ugly as shit boondoggle that inconveniences the hell out of everyone for the unexpectedly long time it takes to get built (and way overbudget) and that in the end isn't really much of an improvement over "gramps"? Just leave it alone Marty....back away slowly. maybe plant some trees.


glass and brick and boring

and designed by some local mediocre architect with connections marty's developer/contractor friends. Revamping the plaza is safe. Doing some sort of complicated deal to tear down city hall and give a gift to a local developer is a recipe for disaster. Menino couldn't do it, he sure as hell doesn't have the political capital to do something like this in his first term. He really needs to spend the next 4 years making people in the southern half of the city happy otherwise he won't make it to a second term.

I hope he realizes that the main reason he was elected was because a significant portion of the city didn't like Connolly's "education reform" platform.

Lesser Of Two Evils

It really was, for me, more of a matter of voting against Connolly's "Gung Ho Charter Schools Gooooooooooooo!" than for Walsh. I think you are right in that was a bigger motivator for most voters rather than confidence in Walsh.