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Old 08-30-2006, 09:04 PM   #1
bostonman
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Crossroads Initiative

Crossroads Initiative Gets Under Way on Broad Street
By Beverly Ford Email this story | Printer-friendly | Reprints

BOSTON-The city is undertaking a major initiative to broaden a dozen Downtown streets to make them more pedestrian friendly and create access to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and Boston Harbor. Dubbed the Crossroads Initiative, the project is designed to connect neighborhoods once separated by the Central Artery Project and create new ways to navigate the city by widening sidewalks to accommodate seating for outdoor restaurants, upgrading lighting and creating new traffic signs.

Jessica Shumaker, with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, tells GlobeSt.com, ?It will make streets more pedestrian friendly, make Downtown more walkable and create livelier streetscapes,? says Shumaker. Work on the project has already started on Broad Street, where a number of new restaurants and 140 condominium units are expected to transform the street into a new urban oasis with links to the Old State House and the Customs Tower. The Crossroads Initiative is expected to be completed by 2014 and will cost an estimated $55 million.

Other streets are also due for a makeover, including Congress Street, which will include information kiosks, maps and signs to connect visitors in the heart of the Financial District to the Boston Tea Party Ship, the Fort Point Channel, the South Boston Waterfront and the Boston Children?s Museum.

A widened Summer Street will link visitors from the Boston Common and Downtown Crossing to the Financial District, South Station and the Fort Point Channel area, while re-tooled Hanover and Salem streets. In Boston?s North End will better connect that neighborhood to a transformed City Hall Plaza. Grass and trees will replace the plaza?s barren brick environment.

Other streets also due for upgrades are Causeway, New Chardon, State, Oliver and Congress, Essex, Beach and Kneeland. Real estate brokers familiar with the plan said the street upgrades will improve the viability of Boston?s neighborhoods and increase property values.

http://www.globest.com/news/696_696/.../148639-1.html

I am particularly excited about the revitalization of City Hall Plaza! That will be great, seeing that City Hall Plaza may be the worst public space in Boston.
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Old 08-30-2006, 10:24 PM   #2
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Grass and trees at city hall? This could be quite an improvement.
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Old 08-31-2006, 09:29 AM   #3
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Grass and trees at city hall? This could be quite an improvement.
This is the first Ive heard of the idea. I hope it's given top priority.
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Old 05-31-2008, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

So this scheme died on the vine, eh? The last update to the Crossroads Initiative web site was in 2006, and folks I've talked to on Broad Street haven't heard a peep from the city on whether anything will actually happen...
http://www.cityofboston.gov/bra/cros...indexflash.htm
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:45 PM   #5
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

Where did they expect to find $55 million? Under a rock?
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Old 06-01-2008, 11:03 AM   #6
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

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Originally Posted by bostonman View Post

I am particularly excited about the revitalization of City Hall Plaza! That will be great, seeing that City Hall Plaza may be the worst public space in Boston.
It may in fact be the worst public space in the US, if not anywhere. Does anyone really believe that a few trees are going to solve this problem?
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Old 06-01-2008, 02:58 PM   #7
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

Turning the ground floor of the JFK building into retail and restaurant space with outdoor seating as it was intended to have would be a start. Not that they will, but expanding the base of City Hall and adding retail and restaurant space there would do wonders as well.

Trees and green will certainly make it feel less desolate, but they need more than just that to give it a more human feel. In fact, If you added the retail and restaurants to the ground floors of those two buildings, the plaza itself would probably need very little "green" to make it a much more attractive environment.
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Old 06-01-2008, 04:06 PM   #8
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

Totally paved public places can be quite inviting, but they need the right buildings and uses surrounding them. For a classic example, see Piazza San Marco in Venice. For a more mundane and local example, check out the brick plaza in Davis Square, next to Store 24 and JP Licks.
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Old 06-01-2008, 07:39 PM   #9
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

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Originally Posted by Lrfox View Post
Trees and green will certainly make it feel less desolate, but they need more than just that to give it a more human feel. In fact, If you added the retail and restaurants to the ground floors of those two buildings, the plaza itself would probably need very little "green" to make it a much more attractive environment.
And block up that damned "view corridor" to North Church, where the space leaks amoeboid out of the plaza.
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Old 06-01-2008, 09:09 PM   #10
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

While trees and grass do not solve the problem, they certainly help it. What would be best would be retail at the ground level, outdoor patios, lighting along paved paths, but paved with a different stone signifying "this area is to walk on and that area is to chill on." This is why I believe grass could work, on the "chill" areas, people could pick up a football and toss it around, pick up a lunch from a sidewalk cafe, sit on a bench and kick their shoes off to feel the grass. I know I'm dreaming, but I really think that could work.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:42 AM   #11
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

City Hall Plaza could have been more successful had they built the curved "Center Plaza" building on the other side of Camridge Street, basically puting it on CHP. This would have walled in an put retail right on CHP making it more like the piazzas found in Europe.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:53 AM   #12
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

It seems to me that City Hall Plaza would work better if it was surrounded by private buildings instead of public ones. Unfortunately, especially after 9/11, government buildings are even more locked down and unfriendly than before. City Hall was designed to have people flowing through it through many different entrances, including through the almost-permanently closed courtyard in the middle. As others have mentioned, the plaza needs things to "activate" it, buildings with active uses surrounding it, places for people to sit or do activities, etc. It can be done, but unfortunately our current mayor is obsessed with throwing away the past instead of trying to improve upon it.

It's the same thing with the other government buildings in the West End. The city has decided that it doesn't like the buildings, so they're just neglected. With some vision and some care, the buildings and the plazas could be greatly improved.
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Old 06-02-2008, 10:06 AM   #13
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

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Originally Posted by cden4 View Post
It's the same thing with the other government buildings in the West End. The city has decided that it doesn't like the buildings, so they're just neglected. With some vision and some care, the buildings and the plazas could be greatly improved.
http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ed...ersey_barrier/

Hopefully, some improvement in in the near future.
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Old 06-02-2008, 10:43 AM   #14
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

I find it kind of sad that bicycling doesn't play a more central plan in this project (even if it is dead/on hold). Boston has to make some very big strides to become bicycle friendly.
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Old 06-02-2008, 11:10 AM   #15
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

I heard from Peter Gori, the BRA's project manager for the Crossroads Initiative this morning and he tells me they are going to start utility relocation this fall for the Broad Street reconstruction. More public meetings are apparently coming soon, but no dates yet.
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Old 03-11-2010, 07:52 PM   #16
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

So it look like the Broad Street Construction is actually starting within a couple months. See .pdf files from BRA presentations on the project.

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthor...ad%20final.pdf

http://www.bostonredevelopmentauthor...%202_24_10.pdf
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:18 AM   #17
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

Ginkgo trees for Broad Street? I think not.

They?re the darlings of landscape architects, who have read in their textbooks that ginkgos are especially exhaust-resistant.

Don?t you believe it. You?ll see them dying in parking lots wherever they?re planted.

Actually, even when healthy these trees look scraggly; and they never spread outward to form a canopy. The photo the designers provided should be enough to disqualify these scrawny old fossils.

And you?d think landscape architects would at least know how to spell this tree?s name. In their document, it came out as ?ginko?.

Truth is, I'm not sure Broad Street needs trees at all; it looks like what it is: a part of a financial district.

I suggest cafe tables instead.
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:32 AM   #18
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

It's all in the detail with projects like this...I can't tell if they are using half-ass concrete 'pavers' or real brick.
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:42 AM   #19
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

The second link said "Brick Pavers" and typically when the City of Boston puts that in plans they're talking about brick. But they've lost a couple recent lawsuits to the Architectural Access Board regarding brick sidewalks so who knows . . .
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:26 AM   #20
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Re: Crossroads Initiative

Quote:
Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
Ginkgo trees for Broad Street? I think not.

They?re the darlings of landscape architects, who have read in their textbooks that ginkgos are especially exhaust-resistant.

Don?t you believe it. You?ll see them dying in parking lots wherever they?re planted.

Actually, even when healthy these trees look scraggly; and they never spread outward to form a canopy. The photo the designers provided should be enough to disqualify these scrawny old fossils.

And you?d think landscape architects would at least know how to spell this tree?s name. In their document, it came out as ?ginko?.

Truth is, I'm not sure Broad Street needs trees at all; it looks like what it is: a part of a financial district.

I suggest cafe tables instead.
Your point about Ginkgo trees is good-- I recall a very urban planting of them at one of my alma maters (almas mater?), outside of a contentious Eisenman building. They were stressed beyond belief and did not necessarily thrive on their neglect. I've noticed this with alot of street plantings of Ginkgos, but I suspect it has to do with the size and condition of the soil they are planted in, and not just the fault of the tree. There certainly are exceptions to this apparent rule, even locally. Gray Street in the South End is lined with them, and is an amazing space, especially in summer (see below). Also in Japan you will find them squeezed between roads and sidewalks, but with larger soil volumes (though still acceptably "urban") and thriving. Certainly if you've ever seen a decades old Ginkgo in a park or other ideal setting these don't rival that, but I don't think that Ginkgos are merely by nature condemned to be anemic and ineffective in urban situations.

And I would note that "Ginkgo biloba" is spelled correctly throughout the design details of the landscape architect, and is misspelled only in the powerpoint which shows no sign of having been made by anyone with design background, so I wouldn't slag the landscape architect for that typo.




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