Tobin Observation Tower

Hubman

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So this is something just floating around in my mind for several months now- I have long maintained that the indisputable best view of Boston is approaching Charlestown from the Tobin Bridge. Downtown, the Mystic, East Boston, Cambridge, the Seaport, Bunker Hill- it's all there. There really is only one other skyscraper observatory in Boston (I'm not counting the Customs House), the one currently being renovated, which is superfluous to name. The Bunker Hill Monument has a little view of Charlestown, but it is messed up by tiny windows and a low capacity so it is not really a viable observation deck.
Meanwhile, the Tobin Bridge has this odd bulge left from when the bridge was stripped of its manual toll-collecting facilities:

With tolls:
1622606765632.png

Without tolls:
1622606877416.png


So why not build an observation tower around the bridge, utilizing this extra space? It would include stairs and an elevator climbing the 130 or so feet to the top, in the same place that the toll access building once stood. They could make it free or charge admission- maybe the lower deck would be free and the upper would be a restaurant. Obviously, some kind of sound barrier would have to be implemented to shield visitors from the "kachunk kachunk" of the cars going by, I don't know much about sound insulation technology, but someone in the field could probably come up with something. Patrons would enjoy a beautiful view of the Lower Mystic region, as well as a panorama of downtown.
Screenshot_2021-06-02 Tolls near tobin bridge.png


Of course, the bottom of the tower would sit within the Auto terminal, so a path (with maybe a foot bridge over the channel) would have to be established to connect it to the navy yard and Charlestown.
Screenshot_2021-06-02 Tolls near tobin bridge(1).png

This would create a little attraction connected to the Navy Yard/Constitution historical site, drawing more visitors and locals (or at least me) to Charlestown. It would make something fun and human out of what is seen purely as a utilitarian infrastructure hulk. And it would result in some pretty cool skyline shots.

Would this ever get built? Almost certainly not. This is Boston, for Christ's sake, not Las Vegas. But I still wanted to share this idea with the community and see what everyone thinks. I think the biggest challenge would be building a unique tower without detracting from the simple beauty of the bridge. But how tall should it be? What should be on it? How would people get there? Let me know.
 

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Brattle Loop

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So this is something just floating around in my mind for several months now- I have long maintained that the indisputable best view of Boston is approaching Charlestown from the Tobin Bridge. Downtown, the Mystic, East Boston, Cambridge, the Seaport, Bunker Hill- it's all there. There really is only one other skyscraper observatory in Boston (I'm not counting the Customs House), the one currently being renovated, which is superfluous to name. The Bunker Hill Monument has a little view of Charlestown, but it is messed up by tiny windows and a low capacity so it is not really a viable observation deck.
Meanwhile, the Tobin Bridge has this odd bulge left from when the bridge was stripped of its manual toll-collecting facilities:

With tolls:
View attachment 13505
Without tolls:
View attachment 13507

So why not build an observation tower around the bridge, utilizing this extra space? It would include stairs and an elevator climbing the 130 or so feet to the top, in the same place that the toll access building once stood. They could make it free or charge admission- maybe the lower deck would be free and the upper would be a restaurant. Obviously, some kind of sound barrier would have to be implemented to shield visitors from the "kachunk kachunk" of the cars going by, I don't know much about sound insulation technology, but someone in the field could probably come up with something. Patrons would enjoy a beautiful view of the Lower Mystic region, as well as a panorama of downtown.
View attachment 13512

Of course, the bottom of the tower would sit within the Auto terminal, so a path (with maybe a foot bridge over the channel) would have to be established to connect it to the navy yard and Charlestown.
View attachment 13513
This would create a little attraction connected to the Navy Yard/Constitution historical site, drawing more visitors and locals (or at least me) to Charlestown. It would make something fun and human out of what is seen purely as a utilitarian infrastructure hulk. And it would result in some pretty cool skyline shots.

Would this ever get built? Almost certainly not. This is Boston, for Christ's sake, not Las Vegas. But I still wanted to share this idea with the community and see what everyone thinks. I think the biggest challenge would be building a unique tower without detracting from the simple beauty of the bridge. But how tall should it be? What should be on it? How would people get there? Let me know.
My first thought was that there's no way that would be allowed, but I had misread your post and thought you were talking about the north end of the bridge (it's been forever since I drove over there and got all turned around in my head) where the Logan height restrictions would be a major problem. Looking at the airspace height restriction map, where the former toll plaza area is looks to be in a zone with a height limit of 340 feet, which would seemingly provide sufficient room for a decent-size observation tower above the bridge deck, and I agree the view would be excellent.

That said, I'm not an engineer, but I don't think that the bridge was designed to have a tower grafted onto it. The toll plaza was a lot smaller and lower-profile than the tower you're suggesting, and I'm wondering whether the bridge could even handle something like that being grafted onto it. I suppose you could make it self-supporting and basically just build it 'around' the bridge, but that would likely be expensive.

I dunno, I could see something like this being potentially worth study in the event of a significant rehab of the bridge or, more likely, its eventual replacement. As a stand-alone project, I don't know if it would work (though given the views it would have of the airport, I'd personally say please build this right now).
 
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Scalziand

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If one of the decks of the Tobin ever got converted to RT, it would be perfect to add a stop at the former plaza to serve this tower, no?
 

Stlin

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Given it's location, I think you'd struggle with access to the site. However, in principle, I like the idea! As a proof of concept, I think there's a cheap and dirty way to do this; roadside scenic overlook, and maybe a pedestrian overpass structure ~about the height of the old toll structure. Your Accel/decel space would be a problem, but you could implement it for the cost of some Jersey barriers, benches and paint.
 

JeffDowntown

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Given it's location, I think you'd struggle with access to the site. However, in principle, I like the idea! As a proof of concept, I think there's a cheap and dirty way to do this; roadside scenic overlook, and maybe a pedestrian overpass structure ~about the height of the old toll structure. Your Accel/decel space would be a problem, but you could implement it for the cost of some Jersey barriers, benches and paint.
Or just cross the Tobin in rush hour traffic. You'll get plenty of dwell time to enjoy the view.
 

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