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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

City Hall Plaza reopens after two years

After two years of renovation, the $95 million makeover of the Boston City Hall Plaza concluded this month with a grand opening event on Friday, Nov. 18. The opening began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by some live entertainment. The City’s Arts and Culture Cabinet organized the opening event with music and the projected work of local artists.

In 2019, Former Mayor Marty Walsh officially announced that the City Hall Plaza’s renovation would make it more accessible for residents of all ages and abilities, and would also transform it into a community space. He envisioned a more welcoming space for thousands of residents visiting the Plaza regularly.

“City Hall Plaza is a space to bring people together and build community,” said Mayor Michelle Wu, “I’m grateful for the work of all our City workers and partners to transform the plaza into a welcoming, resilient and accessible space for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

The Plaza has been redesigned to dedicate large open spaces for playgrounds, event spaces and more. The second floor of City Hall Plaza will again be accessible to the public as part of the effort to make the Plaza accessible to everyone. Boston’s Disability Commissioner, Kristen McCosh, said in the official remarks that before the renovation, disabled people had a hard time accessing and utilizing the space. Hence, it was one of the top priorities when reconstructing the Plaza. Several stairways connecting Congress and Cambridge streets have been replaced with unit pavers and sloped walkways, which will ease travel for people using wheelchairs and scooters.

The redevelopment resulted in 3,000 additional, inviting seating areas for residents, 12,000 square feet of playscapes for kids and families, and 11,000 square feet of terraces for pop-up play and interactive public art.

The new structure will give artists opportunities to display their art. Rhea Vedro is one of the selected artists who will be curating a short-term display that will be installed at the north entrance of the Plaza for a year. Yuke Li is another artist entrusted to create 2D graphics that will be displayed on the exterior of City Hall.

To make it more accessible and accommodative, the renovation constructed seven new ‘plug and play’ locations for community groups to use, with room for a gathering of 20,000 to 25,000 people throughout the entire Plaza, and 10,000 to 12,0000 visitors on the main Plaza.

Sustainability was one of the fundamental goals as well. In order to prepare for severe weather in downtown Boston, the renovation included an increase in permeable surfaces that will soak up stormwater. A hundred new trees will be planted to provide more shade and to increase the air quality of the Plaza. The city also replaced fifty lights with efficient LED technology. Recycled brick and pavement were also used in the construction of the Plaza.

Global design firm, Sasaki, based in Boston, spearheaded the refurbishment plan. The project was administered through the City’s Operations Cabinet by the Public Facilities Department, in collaboration with the Property Management Department and with assistance from the owners’ project manager, Skanska USA.

“City Hall Plaza is the people’s plaza, and it is now a civic front yard that all can access and take pleasure in,” said Chief of Operations, Dion Irish, in an official statement published by the City of Boston. Irish further expressed that the departments and project partners did a commendable job putting together this community space. “I’m excited to see our community enjoy our playground, event spaces, our new pavilion and the reopened north entrance to City Hall.”

About the Contributor
Kaushar Barejiya, News Editor