Monday, January 1, 2007

Wantum Boston City Hall Torn Down

Architecture blogging from Quantum of Wantum: "Architect Ask Self How Le Corbusier Would Have Designed This Bleak Wasteland Of Concrete," writes Son1, and calls for tearing down Boston's City Hall, which the Project for Public Spaces has named as the worst public space in the world.

Greensboro residents may notice that Boston's building has a slighly less grandiose, but equally concrete-y and quasi-brutalist cousin here in town:

Yes, that's Greensboro's own Melvin Municipal Office Building, but I don't think we should tear it down for aesthetic -- or political! -- reasons. Not that it's attractive or easy to use (it's neither).

We just can't afford to build a new one.

Update: Quantum of Wantum has more thoughts and city hall photos. And there's some interesting and informed audio discussion here.

Update II: Boston native and friend Chris McDonough sent me this about the Boston Government Center: "It is hideous and hostile to all life, human and otherwise. I.M. Pei, the architect, had other successes in Boston- notably the Hancock Tower- but GC is an aesthetic and moral offense. Moral? Yes. Five city blocks of the old Scollay Square were leveled to make way for it. Scollay Sq. was the old burlesque district, and while it might wel have grown into a red-light district of the sort no city wanted in the 60's or now, nonetheless, there was a tradition there that the urban renewal absolutists simply obliterated. The best comment on the whole matter is the Modern Lovers' song, "Government Center," which I urge you to download if you don't know it. In essence, the lead singer, Jonathan Richman, recognizes in it a deep aesthetic failure which calls to him as an artist to help out on. "We've got a lot of hard work to do today at the Government Center," as he sings."

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