^ Mayor Walsh and Boston’s architecture estb;lishment at Faneuil Hall yesterday celebrating the formal launch of Boston 2030
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Change is coming to Boston every day. this is, in my mind, an extremely good thing. I am glad that Mayor Walsh agrees. Because, unlike me, he has the power to shape it. So does Brian Golden, who as head of the BRA, has the power to approve actual development projects.
Walsh has the plan to shape change in Boston, and Golden endorses it, and yesterday at Faneuil hall the two leaders unveiled it formally. It’s called “Boston 2030,” which looks awfully like the Olympics’ “Boston 2024” and probably should be sen as that veture’s twin. The two go together.
However, there was no mention at all of either Olympics or 2024 at yesterday’s unveiling. The controversy thereof could only have shaken the applause with which 500 or so of the City’s architecture, city planning, and development establishments — the Hall was full — celebrated this other, and so ar much larger, plan for Boston.
^ the BRA’s Brian Golden addressing a full Faneuil hall yesterday
What, then, iS Boston 2030 ?
As Mayor Walsh described it, the plan envisions a City in which structures give “form to space” by connecting residence to commerce, convenience, and what we used to call “quality of life.” Buildings to be constructed should pay particular attention to which materials are used, and in what proportion or relationship to one another. Sidewalks assume crucial importance (as anyone knows who, not wearing mountain boots, has tried to negotiate Boston’s cracked, sloping, narrow, or badly materialized walkways).
Other important principles, said Mayor Walsh’s panel members, include these : affordable housing built on land whose price hasn’t been fattened by dollar speculation; reform of outdated zoning laws (especially usage restrictions and height or setbacks limitations); and holistic neighborhoods (restaurants and gathering places not only in Downtown). Walsh also directed the Faneuil Hall attendees to Boton 2030’s own website : imagine’boston.gov is its URL.
A singular feature of the presentation was the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building (formerly the Ferdinand) in Dudley Square. its architect used a slide presentation to demonstrate the Bolling Block’s shape, surface texture, interior arrangements, open spaces, sidewalking, and relationship to neighboring structures. Also noted were the Bolling Building’s radical difference from what was the norm for Dudley Square architecture 120 years ago, when it was first developed. Esthetics of structure have definitely changed enormously, and the block’s architect has not been shy about transforming everything.
Using the city of Amsterdam as an example, she called her work “capturing the feel of older buildings without imitating them.” This description supported Walsh’s assertion that “the future of Boston design should reflect its past.”
Walsh also stated that “this is the begimning of the conversation, there will be public meetings.” The same is true of the Boston 2024 Olympics initiative. Both initiatives envision biog cahnge, at least to how Boston is built. All of which satisfies Walsh’s core mission : keeping Boston’s building boom going, expanding its reach, bringing it into the neighborhoods and putting good wages in his Building trades’ followers’ wallets.
Not everybody likes this. Many residents don’t want a building boom and the economic waves that it portends. They do not trust that there’ll be any “affordable” housing; they’re likely to be right on that, as Boston rents and house prices are climbing faster than an aircraft taking off. And they don’t want to see population density thicken, traffic metastasize, noise mushrooming — city life as we live it in 2015, much less in 2030.
Fair to say that there will be a whole lot of talking going on, in Boston during this City Council election year and heading toward the big 2017 re-election campaign.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere