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Old 12-20-2007, 01:02 PM   #1
unterbau
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Worcester Plaza


Back in the late 60's an enormous tower was planned to go up in the middle of Worcester in a plan to revive the city of Worcester from the brink of obscurity and hopefully revive the city's economy. The building was designed by the then-prominent architect Kevin Roche and was and almost obelisk shaped tower which would have been the highest standing tower in all of New England. Unfortunately, this plan was ditched and a much less interesting and attention drawing building was built in it's place. The new office tower was just a mid-rise and doesn't stand out as anything particularly notable visually.


Now it's 2007 and Worcester has pretty much faded into a sliver of what it once was. My question is would having the original tower built make a difference? It would have been a landmark for the area, both architecturally and visually and would have been noticeable for miles.

Also, if anyone has anymore background on this project, especially the politics surrounding its demise, please post it. I haven't done very extensive research into this, and it happened years before I was born.
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Old 12-20-2007, 06:35 PM   #2
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Wow, that proposal was something. It would be kind of odd if that was the only building in town above 300 feet.

I've only been to Worcester once, for a concert (weezer/foo fighters) in 2005 and strolled around town for a while. Of the little I've heard about the city, it seems to get a kind of negative rap. I recall it being kind of 'gritty,' which is actually something I find charming in some areas (to a certain extent). It did seem kind of down on its luck.

I think most of us Portland forumers would be happy to have something as tall as your tallest, even though the design could use a little tweaking.
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:58 AM   #3
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Hm. There really are two sides to this. On one hand, downtown Worcester, dubbed the hole in the donut, has been the worst part of the city for years. Most of the rest of the city is strong due to the presence of various colleges and universities. From this perspective, the tower may well have brought up the one sagging part of the city. On the other hand, there could never have been a remote chance that one tall tower could bring the city to the same level as Boston. Never. Worcester will always be obscure to anyone from over 200 miles away. Then we must consider why it was not built. Chances are, the tenant demand simply wasn't there, and building the tower would not have brought it. The tower may have remained vacant and become more of deteriorating eyesore than anything else.

I must say honestly that I do not like the design one bit. In a city like Worcester, the tower would stand like an obelisk bearing over a downtown with very good height for the city's size.

All that said, I think now as New England tech continues to grow and I-495 has developed, the time is ripe for Worcester and the I-190 area to start getting in on the action. Downtown Worcester is rebounding now that crime has been cleared out and development has resumed, starting with the brand spankin' new Hilton hotel. The tower's time may have come.
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Old 02-10-2008, 09:40 PM   #4
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Quote:
Worcester will always be obscure to anyone from over 200 miles away.
But does it have to be? What could Worcester do to be more like Providence?
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Old 02-10-2008, 11:42 PM   #5
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Pick up and move to the coast...
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Old 02-11-2008, 12:31 AM   #6
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Re: Worcester Plaza

exactly. I don't think we should even wonder what would have happened because that tower would have never been built. It looks like it belongs in some 2600 era movie about level 4 prisoners on antarctica. I feel like Worcester is an a very unfortunate spot, very much like Springfield. I went to visit a friend who goes to school out there and I was stranded at the train station by a high speed rotary and some elitist dinner outing.
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:40 AM   #7
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Re: Worcester Plaza

To be fair, though, Worcester does have assets that Springfield doesn't - its colleges, for one. Is there no central gathering place in the city for students, something like Providence's Thayer Street? If not, Worcester needs to create something of that kind, and draw its campuses together, rather than leaving them some far-flung constellation of isolated oases.
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Old 02-11-2008, 12:02 PM   #8
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Providence has a geography that is easy for an outsider to understand. Get off the train, walk along the riverfront to RISD, then climb the hill to Brown. The state capitol building and the mall are also easy to locate just by looking around.

My impression is that while Worcester has many more colleges than Providence's two, they are harder to reach from the city center.
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Old 02-11-2008, 12:26 PM   #9
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Yeah as far as I know UMASS med school is about 1/2-3/4 of a mile from the station, Holy Cross is 1/2 mile or so Worcester State, Becker College, & Assumption are considerably further & WPI is a ways as well. I know the city has bus service - as far as I could see when I was there. I'm sure the schools also set up some sort of shuttle service to & from the station. I asked her about trains, buses in the city and she looked at me like I was crazy. Its definitely an auto-heavy city! Driving downtown with my friend I didnt really see much in terms of pedestrian friendly avenues. It was more of like a series of expressways piercing the city with the DCU center in the center.
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Old 02-11-2008, 03:02 PM   #10
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Re: Worcester Plaza

In terms of tourism, Providence is more attractive because it is a state capitol, is located on the coast, and has well developed transportation links in its airport and the NEC, all three of which Worcester does not have.

UMass Medical is a solid mile from the station, along with most of the other colleges. Still, the station will become a real asset as it is attractive and is very close to downtown. Unfortunately, it was not intended to become a recreation hub, and now hosts weddings and has some obscure, unattractive bar. The city's bus system does not seem to have great ridership despite its coverage. These transportation disadvantages will constantly hinder growth.

I wonder what impact the proposed Providence - Worcester commuter service might have on the city. Although Worcester will still be an outward terminus, it will be more attractive as a connected city rather than a distant stub on the MBTA.
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:28 AM   #11
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Quote:
Originally Posted by irdesi View Post
I must say honestly that I do not like the design one bit. In a city like Worcester, the tower would stand like an obelisk bearing over a downtown with very good height for the city's size.
From what I understand, the idea behind the tower's height was to be noticed by people passing by on the highways- in the same way that a large tower like the Europaturm or CN tower would direct attention. The scale and design were intended to mimic a monument (to a dying city...?) instead of just being a box with workers inside.

As for finding tenants, while there is a possibility that it would have been largely empty, such a recognizable and iconic tower probably would have been able to draw more business than an average office building with the same square footage.

Can anyone think of any cities that have attempted a skyscraper that dwarfs the rest of the city? Any in similar situations as Worcester?
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Old 02-12-2008, 09:36 AM   #12
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Paris, with the regrettable Tour Montparnasse.

Perhaps even Boston, with the Custom House Tower.

Last edited by Ron Newman; 02-12-2008 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 02-12-2008, 10:04 AM   #13
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Well it wasn't built, but the Cutter Financial Center in Hartford, CT was to be 61 stories and was proposed in the mid 80s I believe. Though Hartford doesn't have as many colleges as Worcester and a much smaller population, the city has been trying to reinvent itself for years. The two major highways cut through the center of the city and really ruined any charm it once had. It would have been much taller than any of the buildings in the city. The tower would have also been taller than the Hancock.




link

Last edited by caravaggiste; 02-12-2008 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 02-12-2008, 10:27 AM   #14
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Erastus Corning Tower in Albany was built in in 1973 and at 180m it's a full 62m taller than the next tallest building (which is the State House built in 1930). Considering that Albany's population is just over 93,000 I would say that it classifies as a tower that dwarfs the rest of the city.

I don't know much about Albany other than what I've seen from driving through, but the only similarity I can think of would have to be climate. someone else would probably be better suited to answer that half of the question.



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Old 02-12-2008, 11:49 AM   #15
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Re: Worcester Plaza

I lived in Albany for a year. That tower really does "tower" over the city. That whole state complex is hideous. The Egg? A massive theatre hall, all concrete, in the shape of a half egg basically. The plaza, however, is a little more friendly then Boston's City Hall, not much. I just can't stand being surrounded by concrete. There is no life to it, no matter how you dress it up.
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Old 02-12-2008, 11:58 AM   #16
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Re: Worcester Plaza

The tower would have actually gone where the mall is today, The reason why worcester is cast in such a negative light is due to the fact that it's labeled as crime ridden, dirty, etc. even though its having it's lowest levels of violence in decades but when your labeled "heroin capital of the world" it tends to stick. Worcester also got screwed by urban renewal when many residential neighborhoods got torn up and replaced with 290, effictively cutting off the eastside from downtown.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:32 PM   #17
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Re: Worcester Plaza

^^Funny, growing up on the South Coast, I heard the same thing about New Bedford ("Heroin Capital of the East Coast"). Fall River has the same type of label nowadays according to my sister (a high school student at Bishop Stang in Dartmouth). Well, those cities all have a negative reputation, above average crime rates, and have seen their primes come and go. All are in dire need of help.

Cojapo, that tower and it's "towerlets" are part of a Gov't complex? That would help explain the strange scale. The "Egg" you mention looks hideous; maybe it's my age, but I can't imagine anyone finding that attractive.
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:41 PM   #18
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Re: Worcester Plaza

I do not see an egg-shaped building in that photo. Where is it?
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:11 PM   #19
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Re: Worcester Plaza

You can see it directly in front of the second "towerlet" to the right of the Erastus Corning Tower. It's like an egg has been sliced vertically and placed with the rounded side down.

Better shot if it here:
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Old 02-12-2008, 01:22 PM   #20
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Re: Worcester Plaza

Thanks. Sounds like people have some affection for it, though. It's certainly unique.
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