As I remarked in my last post, “Edges, shapes and patterns!,” Boston City Hall’s famous inhumanity came up in Tuesday’s lecture by Ann Sussman, co-author of Cognitive Architecture. At her lecture was Aaron Helfand, an architect at the Boston firm of Albert, Righter & Tittmann. Back in 2009, for his master’s thesis at Notre Dame’s school of architecture, he proposed a new design for Boston City Hall. I wrote a column about it, “Boston’s City Hall Plaza as it ought to be,” for the Providence Journal and reprinted it on the website of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which hosted Sussman’s lecture. That column is here.
It has been pointed out that successive efforts big and small to renovate Boston City Hall Plaza have been thwarted by Boston’s architectural elite in order to avoid hurting the feelings of I.M. Pei, who is still alive and who was responsible for siting the government buildings around the plaza.
Pei, who will be 100 on April 26, 2017, if he makes it that far, is probably able to rise above any bad feelings, just as the users of the buildings he designed are probably able to rise above the bad feelings caused by his architecture. But life is a struggle, for the users as well as the designers of buildings, especially in the past 100 years, and we must all cope, so I hope I.M. Pei will not be unduly distressed by my decision to republish Aaron Helfand’s far superior City Hall.