Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

Beton Brut

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Yes, Beton comparing those of us who see the State Service Center, a concrete monstrosity surrounded by chain-link fencing and randomly parked cars, as an angry mob, is such a reasonable response! ;)
To be clear, I take this comment as good-natured ribbing. I agree that the current state of the building is nothing short of a toxic embarrassment. Our disagreement is over the value of correcting the obvious and well documented flaws.

Surely you've attended a concert or play were the skill and expression of the performers didn't live up to the artistic value of the composer or playwright. I'd humbly suggest that similar forces are at work here.

The Rudolph is a half-finished Picasso that's been left out in the rain. It may be water-stained, but it's still a Picasso.

(And if you don't like Picasso, that's okay. But you wouldn't suggest putting one of his paintings to the torch, would you?)


I know of few NIMBY's who don't think of themselves as contrarians and martyrs.
My martyrdom has been greatly exaggerated...

They'll oppose everything for stupid reasons but latch on to the ugliest buildings as a sign that they're just more "deep" than the rest of us! :D
Each one of us spends more time than we realize assigning value to the the individual tiles that make up the mosaic of our lives. Perhaps my opinions appear very stupid to you, but then I don't have the yardstick that you use to measure quality, value, aesthetics, or wisdom.

Clearly you see me as a guy who likes "ugly buildings." But were these ugly buildings? Or this? Or how about this? I played a small role in preservation efforts for all of them, to varying degrees of success. The commonality between them and the Hurley, or City Hall is the quality of craft and cultural value.

As I've said a few times in the past, the defining behavior of contemporary American culture isn't what we make. Instead, it's what we willfully choose to throw away. Your trash is treasure to those willing to do some work. This is an issue worth fighting about. Considering the "Palinist" ideology of many developers and their municipal sponsors, I suggest you pack a lunch -- we're gonna be here all day.
 

Rover

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

If you want to compare the Gaiety to the Hurley be my guest BB as that is your right. However what I often feel that NIMBY's don't understand (can't say if this applies to you specifically) is that their notions of what should and shouldn't be built are rarely in line with the population in general. Your examples are going back a ways so perhaps your activism has died down but in any case if people wanted to preserve any and all derelict buildings at all costs (the Winthrop square garage, the gaiety theatre, etc) they would elect public officials who would do so, or would vote out the ones who committed dastardly deeds with evil developers to turf beloved landmarks for sunlight blocking tall buildings. As maybe even you have realized, that hasn't happened.

Specific to the Hurley, it is an ugly building (IMO) that is the worst possible use for that land. Its a landscraper located in prime land but off of the tax rules because its owned by the gubmint. Similar issue is the transportation building. Sell both of those to private developers and not only are you missing very little architecturally but you can literally generate hundreds of millions of dollars that could directly be earmarked for affordable housing. But you would oppose that because you like how the building looks even though the general consensus is that its ugly as sin.

I put to you that maybe you're being a little selfish here?
 

FitchburgLine

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

The Rudolph is a half-finished Picasso that's been left out in the rain. It may be water-stained, but it's still a Picasso.

(And if you don't like Picasso, that's okay. But you wouldn't suggest putting one of his paintings to the torch, would you?)
This is a bad analogy. The opportunity costs of a painting existing are nonexistent, while the opportunity costs of many many city blocks in the core of a large metro area being devoted to crappy, anti-urban design are huge. If moving the building to a sculpture park was on the table, sure, but architectural merits don't overrule godawful urbanism and the enormous opportunity cost of the land.
 

JSic

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Hard to believe that anyone would defend the State Service Center. Especially when you consider the great development that's replacing the Congress Street Garage. We could get more of that here.
 

Beton Brut

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Your examples are going back a ways so perhaps your activism has died down...
My current areas of focus include studying the evolving plans for Suffolk Downs, better traffic management for the Sumner Tunnel, pedestrian and cyclist advocacy, and raising the aesthetic bar for new development in East Boston. I attend 8-12 public meetings every month. I also manage to hear a lot of live music, cook, work on my home, and put in 40 hours at a job that I enjoy.

Pardon me, I did a bit of light editing:
...if people wanted to engage in historic preservation and the thoughtful curation of the built environment, they would elect public officials who would do so, or would vote out the ones who were incompetent apologists for poor socioeconomic and development outcomes.
Our City Councilor, State Rep, and Senator are all relatively new to office. The outcome of the "Casino War" of 2011-2013 clearly told our former elected officials that their talents were no longer appreciated; all are now working in the private sector.

As maybe even you have realized, that hasn't happened.
Like most neighborhoods, mine is a work in progress. I'm comfortable with the current direction, and the level of engagement and advocacy we're seeing. There's quite a bit of toothpaste that needs to go back in the tube...

I put to you that maybe you're being a little selfish here?
I would be if I'd suggested that the current conditions should remain as they are. The best thing about Organic Architecture is its inherent mutability. I honestly believe that something unique, valuable, and very urban could be done here. If you don't agree, I'm still getting a good night's sleep tonight...
 
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cadetcarl

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Amazing to me how many times a day the way I view myself along the populist-elitist axis changes. Sometimes from thread to thread on this site alone over the course of a single morning.

Rover and JSic, I see your point: the people want what they want, and if we can trust our government to be a broad representation of what we want (I might debate this but not in this venue) then it's clear that there's very little public appetite for these sorts of buildings. Or maybe not the government, but at least the comments section of the Globe and Reddit. The GSC and City Hall have lost the battle of public opinion.

On the other hand, have you SEEN the kind of stuff that people like? I don't actually know that a layperson can tell the difference between good architecture and a ham sandwich. Maybe this is too noblesse oblige but I also do believe that it is possible to know better, to have a more developed sense of what merits preservation. It is not without some peril to just give the people what they want all the time. People also want to drive pickup trucks when they live and work in the city. They also smoke cigarettes which are certain to take time off of their life expectancies.

All I'm saying is, an appeal to the will of the people is not always a slam dunk.
 

Lrfox

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Hard to believe that anyone would defend the State Service Center. Especially when you consider the great development that's replacing the Congress Street Garage. We could get more of that here.
Nobody's defending it as-is. It's possible to break up the super block, improve the urban experience, and allow for more density and urban development on site while still preserving some of the unique architecture and design.

The "level it and build something like everything else that's going up right now because it has problems as-is" philosophy is how you end up with the West End. Preserve and renovate the Lindemann, level the Hurley, cut up the super block with new streets and paths, and open the central plaza and newly created blocks for development.

chop it up like this (and keep the renovated Lindemann). White= new development, green = park, black = new street, grey = pedestrian walkway/path (the stairs in front of the Lindemann connect to the plaza area providing a direct walkway from the park to the New Chardon side).

 

JSic

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Nobody's defending it as-is. It's possible to break up the super block, improve the urban experience, and allow for more density and urban development on site while still preserving some of the unique architecture and design.

The "level it and build something like everything else that's going up right now because it has problems as-is" philosophy is how you end up with the West End. Preserve and renovate the Lindemann, level the Hurley, cut up the super block with new streets and paths, and open the central plaza and newly created blocks for development.

chop it up like this (and keep the renovated Lindemann). White= new development, green = park, black = new street, grey = pedestrian walkway/path (the stairs in front of the Lindemann connect to the plaza area providing a direct walkway from the park to the New Chardon side).

That would be perfectly fine.
 

HenryAlan

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Beton Brut, I generally enjoy your comments, even when I may disagree with a conclusion. But just wanted to thank you in particular for this bit:

Surely you've attended a concert or play were the skill and expression of the performers didn't live up to the artistic value of the composer or playwright. I'd humbly suggest that similar forces are at work here.
As for the State Services Building, I offered my opinion earlier that it is wholly inappropriate to the location. As a stand alone building, I actually would like it quite a bit if it were better maintained. But it will never work for me in that location. I do think something along the lines of lrfox' proposal might be a suitable compromise.
 

stick n move

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Agreed. I wouldnt care at all if it was completely replaced, but meeting in the middle like that would be fine too. This is an enormous site I hope they do something here to keep the west end momentum going and stitch it into the rest of the city fabric (as much as they can).

I wish theyd add a couple more through streets through the west end as well, then fill it in. I think a lot of the worst damage could be fixed with more streets, ground level interaction, and a couple more buildings. I hope this is in the cards. The biggest problem is that its walled off and separate, this could be fixed and no downtown neighborhood should legally be allowed to wall itself off from the rest of the city, its ridiculous.
 

Equilibria

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Re: Winthrop Center | 115 Winthrop Square | Financial District

Hate to be a party pooper (especially as I edge toward the same conversation in an adjacent thread), but could a mod create new thread and move the State Services Center conversation there?
 

vanshnookenraggen

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The problem is that none of these new streets will function as actual streets. For the most part they don't connect to anything else so there isn't going to be any through traffic. You're better off calming the arteries which ring the site and creating more obvious and attractive entrances into the central court.

That is if I thought the building should be demolished, which I don't. Anything that replaces it won't have an iota of ambition that Rudolph had. Far too many people here value height over anything else and the way this city has developed over the last 20 years proves that actual architecture has been discarded. The GSC is faaarrrr from perfect but it shouldn't be torn down just to be replaced by some bland mid rise that no one will think twice about.
 

FK4

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The problem is that none of these new streets will function as actual streets. For the most part they don't connect to anything else so there isn't going to be any through traffic. You're better off calming the arteries which ring the site and creating more obvious and attractive entrances into the central court.

That is if I thought the building should be demolished, which I don't. Anything that replaces it won't have an iota of ambition that Rudolph had. Far too many people here value height over anything else and the way this city has developed over the last 20 years proves that actual architecture has been discarded. The GSC is faaarrrr from perfect but it shouldn't be torn down just to be replaced by some bland mid rise that no one will think twice about.
I think the GSC could be - theoretically - broken up without totally ruining the concept (but am skeptical the MA state govt will ever actually do it right). If it does get chopped into smaller blocks, there should be roads. Whatever your opinions on car vs ped balance, having vehicular circulation makes a neighborhood FEEL more connected and alive. They don't need to be wide roads and they can be woonerfs or whatever, but it should be multimodal.

But, since that aint happening soon (until whenever the date comes that Bob DeLeo and the rest of the state shitbag hacks tear this beauty down for a midrise piece of shit that inevitably will be touted as some symbol of whatever political buzzword of the day happens to be), a better and more feasible solution would be to run some connectors between Sudbury and Chardon, as I've been railing about for years now. That should have been incorporated into the Garage project, but it's not too late to make Bowker and Hawkins into actual connecting roads.

Tear down the police station and build something leaner, taller, and with more residential, open the roads up, and narrow out the urban highways.

Then, ffs reconnect Hanover.
 

odurandina

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Every time i see a Rudolph reference,


i retreat to my safe Garbo space.












 
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