archBOSTON.org

Go Back   archBOSTON.org > Boston's Built Environment > Design a Better Boston

Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 06-06-2018, 08:52 AM   #41
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,415
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie_mta View Post
The North Washington St. Bridge and the Longfellow Bridge were built at about the same time, and to the same high quality. Why couldn't the N. Washington St. Bridge be restored like the Longfellow? I love the N. Washington St. Bridge. It has gravitas, it has a true industrial look, it's awesome. It is being replaced by some pastel Miami-looking piece of fluff. Too bad that's happening.
Count me as someone firmly in favor of preservation, and one who is devastated that we are losing both the No. Wash. and Northern Ave. bridges (it seems crucial that at least one of those two be kept/restored or rebuilt).

But, I feel compelled to point out that old-meets-new is a quintessential part of Boston's identity too. The view of the Old State House in front of One Boston Place has become an iconic photo, as has the view of the Hancock next to Trinity Church.

I'd argue that the very essence of Boston is the story of how such an old, old city has become a bastion of high tech, science, education...cutting edge.

All I am saying is that embracing true Boston is not as simple as keeping rusty bridges. The very fabric of who we are is old-meets-new (which, of course, necessitates keeping a critical mass of the old).

So, yes, I like the view of the Zakim bridge with the Custom House Tower behind it.
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 10:44 AM   #42
KentXie
Senior Member
 
KentXie's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Fenway
Posts: 3,747
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

City Hall. As much as brutalist fans marvel at this landmark, most tourists are not one of them.
KentXie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 11:16 AM   #43
Lrfox
Senior Member
 
Lrfox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 2,224
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by KentXie View Post
City Hall. As much as brutalist fans marvel at this landmark, most tourists are not one of them.
I think it's the plaza that's the problem more than the structure itself. If you were able to green-up the plaza and activate the edges, it wouldn't be bad at all. As it is, the Patios is a really neat touch and draws tourists in (I've been to the Beer Garden twice, and it's been at capacity both times- the wood, brick, and elevated view of Faneuil Hall, the Customs House, etc. is nice).

As tacky as the Wax Museum is (and as empty as it is), the window displays command attention. Even the tables, trees, and glass at the Gov't Center T stop are inviting. The market and skating rink in the winter draw crowds and looks pretty (especially when city hall is illuminated too. When the main expanse is empty, that's when people start noticing. It's not a pretty building, but it's not a blight with active/inviting space around it. With some TLC, it could be handsome. If there was a way to build glass retail add-ons along Congress St, I don't think City Hall would be that bad.
Lrfox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 12:13 PM   #44
KentXie
Senior Member
 
KentXie's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Fenway
Posts: 3,747
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lrfox View Post
I think it's the plaza that's the problem more than the structure itself. If you were able to green-up the plaza and activate the edges, it wouldn't be bad at all. As it is, the Patios is a really neat touch and draws tourists in (I've been to the Beer Garden twice, and it's been at capacity both times- the wood, brick, and elevated view of Faneuil Hall, the Customs House, etc. is nice).

As tacky as the Wax Museum is (and as empty as it is), the window displays command attention. Even the tables, trees, and glass at the Gov't Center T stop are inviting. The market and skating rink in the winter draw crowds and looks pretty (especially when city hall is illuminated too. When the main expanse is empty, that's when people start noticing. It's not a pretty building, but it's not a blight with active/inviting space around it. With some TLC, it could be handsome. If there was a way to build glass retail add-ons along Congress St, I don't think City Hall would be that bad.
What you just said shows that the plaza is not the problem but the structure itself. Like you said, the plaza can be fixed to attract visitors by having a ice skating rink or doing shows. The structure itself is ugly. The brutalist style itself is meant to represent cold and quiet power. Nothing can be done to the structure itself that will attract visitors to visit it. The plaza attracts visitors (when there's an event going on), not the building, which unfortunately also means that tourists gets a close up view of this deteriorating structure.
KentXie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 12:35 PM   #45
cadetcarl
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Boston/Medford
Posts: 282
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by KentXie View Post
The structure itself is ugly. The brutalist style itself is meant to represent cold and quiet power.
No, it isn't. You could claim that that's what it represents to you, or you could try to speak for tourists and people who don't like the building and say that's what it represents to them, but you absolutely may not claim that brutalism is about coldness and power projection. This building in particular has a very clear thesis which has been talked about here and elsewhere for as long as it's been around, and none of its tenets are 'cold and quiet power'. Do not undermine your personal critique of the building by misrepresenting its intentions or those of the architects working in the brutalist style.
cadetcarl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 12:39 PM   #46
TheRifleman
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 4,350
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

City Hall---I feel it should be considered as a landmark status for Boston.
I don't like it but I feel it represents a big part of Boston History.

Needs to be upgraded and modernized but I don't think the architecture should change.

Need to be creative on how to transform the plaza into a more public and inviting space.
TheRifleman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 02:25 PM   #47
KentXie
Senior Member
 
KentXie's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Fenway
Posts: 3,747
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadetcarl View Post
No, it isn't. You could claim that that's what it represents to you, or you could try to speak for tourists and people who don't like the building and say that's what it represents to them, but you absolutely may not claim that brutalism is about coldness and power projection. This building in particular has a very clear thesis which has been talked about here and elsewhere for as long as it's been around, and none of its tenets are 'cold and quiet power'. Do not undermine your personal critique of the building by misrepresenting its intentions or those of the architects working in the brutalist style.
My apologies. Let me rephrase what I meant. The brutalist architecture is associated with coldness and a projection of power. The brutalist architecture was popular during the Cold War era and the structures were typically used for institutional purposes such as government building and is also prevalent in communist and totalitarian governments (hence the cold and quiet power). Regardless of the architects intent to use brutalism for the purpose of function over form and to represent a social utopia, the reality is these buildings are not efficient nor are the engaging or interactive with the public. And since this thread is asking for the perspective of a typical tourist who do not view the same way as an architect, that takes precedent over the architect's intentions.
KentXie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 02:42 PM   #48
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,415
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

^ Kent, while I appreciate your clarification/elaboration, I still respectfully disagree that the building is the main issue...and instead point to the plaza.

The reason it is embarrassing tourist blight is not for lack of potential for events, festivals, etc, as you point out.

Rather, it is embarrassing because of it's frequent state: barren...and with public vehicles randomly parked on it...looking like a dead zone right in the heart of the city

It doesn't scream "our space is precious and vital in Boston"...it screams "we don't know what to do with ourselves / we don't have our shit together".

I can forgive the building because every city has its era-specific relics. I don't expect to like every building when I visit a new city.

But if I am visiting someplace that is supposedly vibrant and up-and-coming, I do not expect to see a multi-acre dead zone in the heart of downtown.
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 02:45 PM   #49
DZH22
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,647
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by KentXie View Post
What you just said shows that the plaza is not the problem but the structure itself.
I would say that the plaza is the problem. Mainly, it's too large, and swaths of it never appear to be activated regardless of the event. Half of the plaza should be built on (looking at the area around the low-rise section of the JFK building), and the other half gussied up.
DZH22 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-06-2018, 11:34 PM   #50
Charlie_mta
Senior Member
 
Charlie_mta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,217
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpicture7 View Post
But, I feel compelled to point out that old-meets-new is a quintessential part of Boston's identity too. The view of the Old State House in front of One Boston Place has become an iconic photo, as has the view of the Hancock next to Trinity Church.
I agree. A restored North Washington Street Bridge next to the Zakim Bridge would fit the "old-meets-new". But having all new and modern structures and, for the most part, modern buildings in the area pretty much wipes out the historic industrial look in that part of town.

A restored North Washington Street Bridge would have tied the old and new together nicely.
Charlie_mta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2018, 09:24 AM   #51
commuter guy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 794
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Causeway St and the area leading into City sq Charlestown has changed in feel perhaps more than any other corner of Boston in the last 25 years. It certainly feels brighter and maybe more prosperous, but yet less urban than in the early 90s. I would have preferred restoration or rebuilding of the North Washington bridge given so many of the other changes that have occurred in that area.
commuter guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2018, 09:43 AM   #52
Arlington
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,364
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
Everyone who has told me about visiting Boston has mentioned this. It's very obvious once you've lived anywhere else.
This is partly due to Boston's being just 7% African-American (on the same level as Minneapolis-St Paul) whereas most other "Big Cities East of the Mississippi" are typically in the 10% ~ 20% range. We aren't as diverse as the stereotypical "big city"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...an_populations
__________________
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2018, 10:46 AM   #53
Lrfox
Senior Member
 
Lrfox's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 2,224
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by KentXie View Post
What you just said shows that the plaza is not the problem but the structure itself. Like you said, the plaza can be fixed to attract visitors by having a ice skating rink or doing shows. The structure itself is ugly. The brutalist style itself is meant to represent cold and quiet power. Nothing can be done to the structure itself that will attract visitors to visit it. The plaza attracts visitors (when there's an event going on), not the building, which unfortunately also means that tourists gets a close up view of this deteriorating structure.
I disagree. The structure isn't perfect, but with better maintenance and some slight, subtle modifications on the ground level targeted at improving the pedestrian experience, it can be an appealing, inviting attraction in and of itself. The issue with city hall is not the appearance or architectural style, it's the surroundings and pedestrian engagement. The worst part of the building itself is the garage entrance and blank brick wall along Congress. If you were able to replace that with an airy glass retail corridor, it would both compliment the building's architectural strengths and make that facade more inviting.

The success of parts of the plaza in drawing crowds to enjoy the space (particularly the Lawn, Patio, and head house areas on the south side) goes to show that building isn't the problem. It's the plaza. Unless there's an event, it's a foreboding, desolate wasteland.
Lrfox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2018, 04:22 PM   #54
Ruairi
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 212
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

I'd like to nominate the Irish famine memorial on Washington and School, I think.
I know it's not blighted (except for pigeon shit) but it's one of the worst pieces of public art I've ever seen and it's right in one of the busiest tourist spots of the city. It's an excellent space for a really good piece of public art but this thing is hideous.
I'm an Irish emigrant and I cringe when people come to visit from Ireland and ask about it. They usually burst out laughing!
What a waste of time, space and money.
Ruairi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2018, 04:52 PM   #55
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,415
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie_mta View Post
...A restored North Washington Street Bridge next to the Zakim Bridge would fit the "old-meets-new"...

A restored North Washington Street Bridge would have tied the old and new together nicely.
I agree. That juxtaposition would have embodied exactly the type of old-meets-new I was thinking of. Missed opportunity : (
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2018, 02:59 PM   #56
meddlepal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Boston
Posts: 1,145
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

The Tannery and connected building on Boylston (though it seems that might be changing soon... I walked by the other night and it is blocked off for construction)

That row house in Kenmore that is totally fucked. It's nearby the Lower Depths and India Quality.

The decrepit tenement building in Dewey Square.

The decrepit commercial building between Jacob Wirth's and The Hostel.

City Hall isn't blight IMO. The Plaza might be blight.
meddlepal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2018, 04:39 PM   #57
Roxxma
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: South End, Boston
Posts: 468
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruairi View Post
I'd like to nominate the Irish famine memorial on Washington and School, I think.
I know it's not blighted (except for pigeon shit) but it's one of the worst pieces of public art I've ever seen and it's right in one of the busiest tourist spots of the city. It's an excellent space for a really good piece of public art but this thing is hideous.
I'm an Irish emigrant and I cringe when people come to visit from Ireland and ask about it. They usually burst out laughing!
What a waste of time, space and money.
As a descendant of survivors who came here on account of that very famine (as well as some much more recent arrivals), I concur 100%. It belongs at the Museum of Bad Art.
Roxxma is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-06-2018, 08:56 PM   #58
cybah
Senior Member
 
cybah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 278
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

I find this thread interesting because we're (mainly) all locals.

But my picks..

Logan Airport - Specifically, you're gonna get on a bus. We're the only major aiport in the country that uses f'ing shuttle buses to get people between terminals.

"Hi, Welcome to Boston, here's your bus"

But as far as blighted things in tourist areas..... I can't really think of anything.

I have alot of guests who visit from out of state. Its amazing what others will say about Boston. Many LIKE the architecture we have, as its very different from many other parts of the country. I have many friends who come from out west where its grided streets and urban sprawl, and they are amazed at how compact Boston (city center) is.

And I don't see places like Gov't center being bad, it really is an excellent example of brualist architure. Much of which you don't see elsehwere today (for the reasons we don't like GC.. it's ugly!) But people LIKE seeing it.

Nor can I really say the T is embarassing either. Yeah its gross, hot, smelly, and it breaks down. But to many vistors, its pretty awesome. Especially if you are from a city or town that does not have a subway system. Of course, any T riding from me always comes with "yeah its nice but it has problemns" disclaimer.

But... if you want to know the most comments I get from tourists..

1. Man you have alot of Dunkin Donuts (no joke, so many people say this)
2. So much brick work.. EVERWHERE (often said by my SF friends..)
3. Wow Fanueil Hall sucked
4. Is this it to Cheers?
cybah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2018, 10:47 PM   #59
KentXie
Senior Member
 
KentXie's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Fenway
Posts: 3,747
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by cybah View Post
I find this thread interesting because we're (mainly) all locals.

But my picks..

Logan Airport - Specifically, you're gonna get on a bus. We're the only major aiport in the country that uses f'ing shuttle buses to get people between terminals.
Agreed. Not only that, the added time using the shuttle buses (or using the Silver Line) offsets the benefit of having an airport close to downtown. It can take up to 30 minutes to take the shuttle and Blue Line or the Silver Line to get to downtown for something that is 3 mile away. It takes the same time to catch the Orange Line from midway to the loop in Chicago and that's 12 miles away!
KentXie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2018, 08:46 PM   #60
gravedigger4444
Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 62
Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Hurley Building. All the trolley and duck tours pass it (twice on some occasions).
gravedigger4444 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
More embarrassing than the '85 Pat's Super Bowl performance statler General 7 02-20-2008 10:30 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:59 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.