City of Boston selects Utile, with Grimshaw Architects and Reed Hilderbrand, to study City Hall and City Hall Plaza

On November 3, 2015 the City of Boston announced that Utile, with Grimshaw Architects and Reed Hilderbrand, has been commissioned by the Property and Construction Management Department to direct a one-year planning process that will lead to a comprehensive roadmap for design and operational improvements to City Hall and its plaza. “I am excited to have Utile on board as we work to identify ways to activate our civic spaces,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “As we progress in the planning process, it is important to take inventory of all of our assets to be able to identify opportunities for improvement. This study will help us develop a thoughtful and forward-looking plan to reimagine City Hall and the plaza as thriving, healthy, and innovative civic spaces.”

The team is thrilled to consider the plaza and the internal workings of City Hall simultaneously. Key goals include the physical reorganization of city departments so they better serve the diverse constituents who visit the building, renovations to the plaza to encourage a wider range of activities at all times of the year, and the creation of stronger connections between City Hall, the Plaza, and the surrounding urban fabric.

One challenge is the general public’s negative opinion of City Hall and the Plaza. The consultant team plans to overcome these perceptions by highlighting the rich history of City Hall both as a physical artifact and as a repository of traditions and personal narratives that have accrued since the building first opened in 1968. With the rehabilitation of interior finishes, better lighting, and the reallocation of uses to better leverage the building’s dramatic interior spaces, the team is confident that the citizens of Boston will love City Hall again.

The primary aim is to reposition City Hall and the Plaza to reflect a 21st century vision of progressive city government in the civic heart of Boston. To better define this vision, they are seeking the ideas and feedback of professional and advocacy organizations, community groups, and the citizens of Boston. This engagement is happening through face-to-face meetings, social media, and the project web site rethinkcityhall.org.