Civic Rooms

1/23/2012 Uncategorized

As a fitting conclusion to the work of my students last semester – culminating in the publication of Civic Rooms for Rent (available from Lulu) – I attended two civic events within three days. The first was Mayor Menino’s State of the City Address at Faneuil Hall and the second was the official re-opening of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the last of a sequence of events celebrating the completion of Renzo Piano’s elegant new wing. Both events were held in significant civic rooms: Faneuil Hall, the uber-example of my students’ research, and Piano’s unorthodox music hall. Despite the stylistic differences, both events had similar characteristics: the scale of the spaces and particularly New England-ish arrangement of the seating (shallow tiers of seats ignorant of the location of the performance), the program for both rituals (foreplay provided by a convocation and a short performance by representatives of Boston’s “youth”), and the presence of the Mayor and more than a fair share of the City’s leadership (city councilors and department heads). I am happy to report that Boston’s civic life continues to be staged in significant architectural spaces!