Redesign Government Center

JeffDowntown

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I think that is just a demonstration of what it can do. I doubt it will be full Joseph's Dreamcoat every night.
The City's announcement confirmed your assertion. More subtle lighting most nights. Full bore capabilities in theme appropriate colors to celebrate special events.
 

CSTH

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Anyone have an example where we'll-executed bright white up-lighting has brought new life to a brutalist exterior? I feel like there's a recent example on the 'tip of my tongue' but I can't nail it down...
 

statler

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The Government Center Station landscaping is much larger then I was expecting. It takes up a huge chunk of the plaza.
 

stefal

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I'd like to see Accordia's Winthrop Square building at govt center.. perhaps scaled down a bit.
 

West

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Very interesting massing. However, there's lots of shallow tunnels under the plaza, not just the main green line extending on towards Haymarket, but the Brattle Loop too. Putting towers there would be nearly as daunting as over the Pike.

Whenever I play the mental game of "fill in the plaza with buildings" I think it's worth trying to skirt the tunnels. The resultant new streetscape would reveal the Brattle Loop and main Green Line branch for all to see, and would avoid some serious unnecessary foundation costs.
 

odurandina

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^^Fantastic posts. No one wanted to steal his thunder and start talking about trusses, but maybe arches would support a great public space below something very tall.... if you incorporate 1-3 Center Plaza, there's a great opportunity to build a significant modernistic/deco to match the area, and step up for a couple of skyscrapers rising above a new Scollay Square.

So much to dream of.
 

C-Town_Jeff

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MOD EDIT: This cool redesign was originally posted over in Development Projects. Definitely relevant to this thread.

Below is always how I envisioned fixing the plaza issue. The areas I call out as pedestrian streets should have the look and feel of streets that once were in the is area, but I do not see any reason to open them up to vehicular traffic. The events space of the plaza would be confined down to the area on the north side of city hall. This obviously isn't a practical or realistic approach.

1607112972928.png
 
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MjolnirMan

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Below is always how I envisioned fixing the plaza issue. The areas I call out as pedestrian streets should have the look and feel of streets that once were in the is area, but I do not see any reason to open them up to vehicular traffic. The events space of the plaza would be confined down to the area on the north side of city hall. This obviously isn't a practical or realistic approach.
Your developable area is intriguingly compatible with Aaron Helfand's Master's Thesis:
helfandaerial1.jpg


I'm less sympathetic than you are towards the entire plaza, including City Hall itself. It was all created in an act of urban destruction, and in my view has no more right to continue to exist in perpetuity than Scollay Square did.

This isn't a big sculpture in a museum, it's architecture, and architecture necessarily has a functional component as an intrinsic part of its purpose. The Hall itself was designed specifically to serve the civic functions of an increasingly large bureaucracy in the mid-20th-century, which since has heavily downsized in-person operations and personnel for such things as paying tickets and filing for licenses. The Hall was designed to allow porous flow of people in through the ground level, and that artistic vision of how the populace should interact with government buildings has been destroyed by modern security cordons. The Plaza was designed explicitly to serve a Piazza del Campo effect, and it has objectively failed at that function. The other artistic elements of the plaza were a sunken concrete fountain (capped over for decades) and its mirror, a raised concrete bump for the T headhouse (demolished and replaced with an Apple Store-like monolith). The final element is a sea of angular brick levels which has been justified as a suitable staging ground for events, despite the weight limits set by its construction over a variety of subterranean structures and the trip hazard of the levels - now events will not be able to use this blank canvas, as it is being planted over and "cluttered" with elements.

The current Plaza is a horrible waste, but it doesn't have to be. It has some amazing attributes: it all appears to be within the ~725-775' FAA zoning range, and due to its location and our hemisphere, I don't think could ever cast a shadow on the Common. From Sudbury St. to the Sears Crescent and from Cambridge St. to Congress St. it's about 900' by 700'. The parcel sits directly on top of the Green, Blue, and Orange lines, and is in a good position for either the CAT or Congress St. NSRL alignments. It's on terra firma, not fill soil. And, the best attribute for radical redevelopment - almost everyone hates it the way it is now! By re-demolishing the whole thing, including the current train tunnel system, you could rebuild from the basement up in such a way that if you wanted, you could fit like 6 Prudential Towers' worth of buildings on the current spot, at the same time renovating part of the basement layer into a megastation for almost every train line. And plus, you can leave ample open space for a park/beer garden directly across from Faneuil Hall on top of the realigned tunnels.

Govt Center.jpg
 

Charlie_mta

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Saw this and immediately thought of Congress Street between Govt Ctr and Faneuil Hall. Congress is largely redundant with Cambridge St and Surface Rd through that corridor.

A lot of the elements of Government Center are redundant now that we have the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the surface boulevard alongside it. City Hall Plaza was originally built when a snarl of elevated roads and ramps engulfed what is now the Greenway, and the surface streets alongside it at the time did not tie through. So, the point is, Congress Street could be narrowed or downright eliminated, and City Hall Plaza could be greatly shrunken in size.
 

Charlie_mta

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Re: Government Center

That's what the small blocks are for. Even if they do buy up the parcels, it won't be a "landscraper."
Here's my small blocks proposal for City Hall Plaza. Yellow is developable parcels, green is pocket parks, and grey are small streets. I've reduced the width of Congress Street considerably:

 

stefal

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A highly conceptual quick illustration for my 3 connected plazas concept that I mentioned on the other thread a few days ago. It'd be a miracle for this to happen, and if I put a little more thought into this, it'd probably change a bit:

concept sketch.jpg


In fact, looking at this now, I think the headhouse would have to move to be integrated within the building along Cambridge Street, and a smaller one for Green Line access, in order to open the plaza up and create some kind of viewing corridor for the courthouse building. I also didn't play much with the tunnel layouts below, but I envision these not being that tall where the tunnel interference may come up.

I took advantage of the Govt Center Garage Redevelopment creating new avenues from the botique shopping area to hopefully create a continuous shopping/pedestrian corridor from North Station to Government Center via Canal Street, Govt Center Garage Redevelopment, and this set of blocks and plazas. From there, with a little bit of livening up on Washington Street, you could have a pedestrian corridor from North Station to DTX/Boston Common.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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I think it's important to keep some kind of plaza in front of the City Hall. It just needs to be defined by in fill buildings.

I don't think that the headhouse has to, or even could be, moved. It acts as an entrance to the plaza from above and below. I think that if the Cambridge St and [New] Hannover St sides are developed it will activate the plaza well. Viewing corridors are overrated anyway and there isn't all that much to see here to begin with.
 

Charlie_mta

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My GC redevelopment concept with a plaza (pink) in front of City Hall, a pocket park (green) that ties through to the plaza, a downsized GC station kiosk, and low/medium rise buildings (yellow) and high rise (orange). The development along the three sides of City Hall would be low rise and integrated into the base of City Hall, to provide a commercial/office street wall along the small streets. Congress Street would be reduced to one lane each way plus bike lanes.

 

MjolnirMan

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I can't believe that I only recently learned about the Copley Square of the 1960s - converted into a hideous concrete plaza of levels, and a mistake thankfully undone:
gettyimages-634263118-1024x1024.jpg
img100.jpg

I see a lot of parallels to City Hall Plaza. I'm sure the designers of this lovely centerpiece of urban life were well-educated architects too.

I love all of your suggestions for ways to break up Government Center into parcels. Given the complexity of building over the Brattle Loop, and considering that tight turnarounds like that and (ex-)Lechmere constrain the type of LRV able to be used, I think Brattle is an acceptable/inevitable jettison, made up for by adjusting service levels (necessary in light of the GLX anyway). I had sketched an idea out for realigning the Green Line tunnel previously in Paint, mainly to show that if you got rid of those and the fountain you suddenly have quite a lot of solid ground to work with:
But looking at OpenRailwayMap, I wanted to go one step further. This is partially Crazy Transit, but I think fits well into a discussion of how to redevelop Gov't Center. Here are the Plaza tunnels as they currently exist, and then with demolition of the active GL tunnels:
chp.PNG->chp2.png
Tie the Green Line Northbound into the abandoned tunnel where it forks South of the Sears Crescent, and then build a new southbound tunnel parallel to the existing ones, running back up "Cornhill". This keeps the rail ROW on the pedestrian throughway and parallel to the OL, minimizing the footprint:
chp3.png->chp4.png
As the GL and OL are on two different levels, you can construct a new station closer to Congress Street within the "bulb" of the new GL loop, with platforms oriented as outlined here (red lines indicate stairs/elevators from the upper GL level to the lower OL level):
chp5.png
To tie into the existing BL platforms, you could construct a pedestrian walkway as part of the new Southbound GL tunnel that descends to the BL grade. Conceptually, I also really love the idea of opening up a sightline from the courthouse to Faneuil Hall via this corridor, which means opening up a part of Center Plaza as outlined. You could design the headhouse for this realigned station to have stunning sightlines of emerging from the ground to see one to the West and the other to the East:
chp6.png->chp7.png

You can also design this station to fit well into the NLRB. If the Congress Street alignment is used, it's directly adjacent. And while this is almost a lateral replacement for Government Center, because you're tying in the Orange Line, there are also a number of ways to consider consolidation of nearby stations for service reasons. Instead of also using Milk/State station as it exists now, you could eliminate those OL platforms and re-route the existing entrances as walkways to the new City Hall area. I think this makes a little more sense than the current spacing between the DTX and State OL platforms. (Vanshnookenraggen's map for context.)

E: Come to think of it, if you did that, perhaps it makes more sense to connect to the Blue Line platforms at State instead via this walkway. Then the Blue could skip the current GC platform and go right to Bowdoin (and then eventually proceed to Charles St. when Red/Blue is built).

E2: Here is a diagram of the Adams Square platforms. The track to the far left (closest to the City Hall elevators) may be usable for most of that haul, with a new tunnel curving West at where it currently loops East. It doesn't look like The EGE sketched out Milk/State, but here is a diagram of the station as it exists (although, this is missing the entrance at 28 State St which would be to the far left of this diagram). It'd be a bit of a hike, but you could block off these existing State OL platforms, but retain the entrances for a covered pathway to the Blue platforms. Then, where the Oak Grove OL platform is now, extend the platform North as a walkway to the new Oak Grove "GovCtr2.0" platform and station. It does mean that this new station would kind of be Milk/State/Devonshire/Adams/Scollay/GovernmentCenter.
 
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Charlie_mta

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I can't believe that I only recently learned about the Copley Square of the 1960s - converted into a hideous concrete plaza of levels, and a mistake thankfully undone:
View attachment 8914View attachment 8915
I see a lot of parallels to City Hall Plaza. I'm sure the designers of this lovely centerpiece of urban life were well-educated architects too.

I love all of your suggestions for ways to break up Government Center into parcels. Given the complexity of building over the Brattle Loop, and considering that tight turnarounds like that and (ex-)Lechmere constrain the type of LRV able to be used, I think Brattle is an acceptable/inevitable jettison, made up for by adjusting service levels (necessary in light of the GLX anyway). I had sketched an idea out for realigning the Green Line tunnel previously in Paint, mainly to show that if you got rid of those and the fountain you suddenly have quite a lot of solid ground to work with:

But looking at OpenRailwayMap, I wanted to go one step further. This is partially Crazy Transit, but I think fits well into a discussion of how to redevelop Gov't Center. Here are the Plaza tunnels as they currently exist, and then with demolition of the active GL tunnels:
View attachment 8916->View attachment 8917
Tie the Green Line Northbound into the abandoned tunnel where it forks South of the Sears Crescent, and then build a new southbound tunnel parallel to the existing ones, running back up "Cornhill". This keeps the rail ROW on the pedestrian throughway and parallel to the OL, minimizing the footprint:
View attachment 8918->View attachment 8920
As the GL and OL are on two different levels, you can construct a new station closer to Congress Street within the "bulb" of the new GL loop, with platforms oriented as outlined here (red lines indicate stairs/elevators from the upper GL level to the lower OL level):
View attachment 8921
To tie into the existing BL platforms, you could construct a pedestrian walkway as part of the new Southbound GL tunnel that descends to the BL grade. Conceptually, I also really love the idea of opening up a sightline from the courthouse to Faneuil Hall via this corridor, which means opening up a part of Center Plaza as outlined. You could design the headhouse for this realigned station to have stunning sightlines of emerging from the ground to see one to the West and the other to the East:
View attachment 8922->View attachment 8923

You can also design this station to fit well into the NLRB. If the Congress Street alignment is used, it's directly adjacent. And while this is almost a lateral replacement for Government Center, because you're tying in the Orange Line, there are also a number of ways to consider consolidation of nearby stations for service reasons. Instead of also using Milk/State station as it exists now, you could eliminate those OL platforms and re-route the existing entrances as walkways to the new City Hall area. I think this makes a little more sense than the current spacing between the DTX and State OL platforms. (Vanshnookenraggen's map for context.)

E: Come to think of it, if you did that, perhaps it makes more sense to connect to the Blue Line platforms at State instead via this walkway. Then the Blue could skip the current GC platform and go right to Bowdoin (and then eventually proceed to Charles St. when Red/Blue is built).

E2: Here is a diagram of the Adams Square platforms. The track to the far left (closest to the City Hall elevators) may be usable for most of that haul, with a new tunnel curving West at where it currently loops East. It doesn't look like The EGE sketched out Milk/State, but here is a diagram of the station as it exists (although, this is missing the entrance at 28 State St which would be to the far left of this diagram). It'd be a bit of a hike, but you could block off these existing State OL platforms, but retain the entrances for a covered pathway to the Blue platforms. Then, where the Oak Grove OL platform is now, extend the platform North as a walkway to the new Oak Grove "GovCtr2.0" platform and station. It does mean that this new station would kind of be Milk/State/Devonshire/Adams/Scollay/GovernmentCenter.
Definitely a good idea to get rid of the maze of tunnels and just have a single two-track Green line tunnel through the area, City Hall currently sits on top of one of the Green Line tunnels, so it's possible to place buildings over a tunnel. It just has to be built strong enough with that in mind, which the old tunnels currently aren't. The west leg existing tunnel runs under what used to be Hanover Street pre-GC, so I think it's possible to rebuild Hanover Street over it again.

All the new streets I show could be pedestrian streets with vehicular access limited to deliveries, fire control access, and police cars.
 

393b40

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I can't believe that I only recently learned about the Copley Square of the 1960s - converted into a hideous concrete plaza of levels, and a mistake thankfully undone:
This was a proposal that never actually happened. Nothing to undo.
 

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