Boston’s Public Facilities Department, Boston Planning and Development Association (BPDA), and Sasaki Architects recently provided an update on the City Hall Renovation Project, due to begin construction in April.
The project is currently in Phase 1, preceded by the establishment of an RCP (Refined Conceptual Plan). Next there will be a 10-month design documentation chapter and an expected 18-24 month overall construction period.
Envisioned as “The People’s Plaza,” Sasaki Associate Principal Kate Tooke emphasized that key drivers powering the process have been a need to make City Hall Plaza universally accessible as well as fully compliant with rapidly evolving safety, security, and environmental resiliency standards.
“This is Boston’s front yard and, as such, we want to transform the area into a place where people feel welcomed, where people feel comfortable, where this becomes a place where people want to be.,” said Tooke.
The project team is aware of the structure’s pending landmark status. Integration of the architectural and cultural legacy of City Hall Plaza was noted as a key consideration. The currently unused North Entrance has been redubbed “The Hanover Promenade.”
BPDA agent Chris Breen described the Minor Modification aspect, noting that the simple change which only requires BPDA approval would allow for “community space” to be added as Land Use and Building Requirements for parcel 11 in accordance with the Government Center Urban Renewal Plan.
North End resident Victor Brogna asked a number of questions related to the project. “Concerning public lighting for increased safety, what is being done?” Brogna put forth, with Chief of Operations Patrick Brophy responding that 50 lights will be replaced with LEDs.
Brogna also inquired into mitigating noise levels during large concerts due to quality of life concerns, with Brophy replying that the acoustic impact of added trees, smaller concerts being held, and mindful positioning of the stage should reduce the overall volume.
Lastly, Brogna wondered whether there would be an appropriate location for residents to publically assemble and protest, which Brophy affirmed and added that improvements will be made around the area encompassing what’s being referred to as “Speakers Corner.”