Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism


Over the past several years, multiple proposals to relocate City Hall have been put forth. The most recent proposal included financing the construction of a new seat of government near the South Boston waterfront by making the current site available for private commercial development. The specifics of the plan, such as the degree to which City Hall Plaza would remain or be infilled, have not yet been made public.

There is broad consensus among those who oppose the destruction of Boston City Hall and Plaza, that certain failings must be addressed as part as a renewed life for the building and the landscape.

Courtesy Chris Brazee

It is important to acknowledge that changes will have to be made in order to keep the current City Hall and Plaza a central part of the city’s identity and a critical component of this evolution will involve investment in making the plaza attractive, viable, and environmentally sustainable. The lower levels City Hall were always conceived as direct extensions of the Plaza. Contemporary security and program needs have altered the way in which the building is used, and it will be critical to reconsider the operation of the building’s lower floors in order to encourage pedestrian flow into and through the building. The scale and unrelieved nature of the plaza has also led many to call for changes that might “humanize” it, introduce more greenery, and make it a better defined and more welcoming place in the heart of the city. In addition, the restrictions against commercial and private-sector activity in the Government Center had the unfortunate effect of creating an artificially zoned district, one that has always lacked the vitality and activity associated with a more vibrant mix of public and private uses in urban centers.

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust