Put Your Stamp on Boston City Hall

Posted April 2, 2015 by Rosalind Saul in Downtown Boston
City Hall Plaza boasts over 200,000 square feet with direct access to the T and a location that can't be beat. Photo Credit: Domas Mituzas

Back in January when Boston Mayor Marty Walsh gave his inaugural State of the City address, he reflected upon the outdated nature of Boston’s City Hall and his hope that it might be better designed to accommodate and reflect innovation, creativity, and a fresh new feel.  He promised to put out a call to the public to help Boston reimagine City Hall Plaza as a bustling and thriving city center.  The call has come; as of Monday, March 9th, ideas are being accepted from citizens at large for a new City Hall that will be as hip as Boston itself.

City Hall Plaza is a promising space; it boasts over 200,000 square feet with direct access to the T and a location that can’t be beat.  It’s also the only large solid-surface open area in downtown Boston and sees between 20,000 and 30,000 persons via foot traffic every single day.  This space, the city hopes, can become a true center for community life; it should become somewhere attractive for relaxing and enjoying lunchtime, or participating in a myriad of activities (educational, athletic, or cultural).  It should be somewhere the community wants to spend time.  Given its location amidst the businesses and attractions of downtown Boston, it should be a welcoming space for all looking to take a break from the workday, or enjoy an afternoon of leisure.

The city will also be looking to attract more pop-up businesses such as the recently sighted Boston Brewin Coffee; the first coffee cart to appear in City Hall.  Since the space is so central and public, it is the ideal exhibition center for the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to install public art projects (such as this winter’s popular #wickedcooltree).  A new design for City Hall Plaza will engage with all of these multiple facets and showcase each individually to create a bustling city center fit for the Boston community.

If you’ve got some ideas about how to spruce up City Hall, you should check out the Request for Ideas document (RFI) which has been live on the city of Boston’s website since the beginning of March.  Though the city is not yet calling for fully developed plans, they are looking to the community for ideas that might lead to such plans.  You can informally tweet notions at @marty_walsh and @notiftyboston (just be sure to include the hashtag #CityHallPlaza).  Alternately, if you’d like to put together a full idea proposal, you will need to include the following in a statement of interest (SoI):

  • A description of the entity responding (that would be you, or any business you might represent in a formal capacity for the purposes of your SoI)
  • A discussion of said entity’s business concept/operating structure (the city wants to know a little more about the business you represent; if you are an individual, you can skip this item).
  • A description of your relevant experience (or the relevant experience of your business) that is pertinent to designing, operating, and/or curating City Hall
  • A proposed physical concept for the space (if relevant to your idea)
  • A proposed plan for developing and managing content for City Hall (again, if relevant to your idea).

Respondents are encouraged to contact Molly Murphy (Molly.Murphy@boston.gov) with any questions about the project or the process.  Statements of Interest will be due on or before May 4th, 2015.  After the city has collected sufficient statements of interest, a formal Request for Proposals will be issued to the public.