Entrance to Boston's controversial City Hall



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City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa |


City Mayors ranks the world’s largest, best as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More


City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world. More


City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More


Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa compete for the World Mayor Award. More


Use
Mayor Monitor to rate the performance of mayors from across the world More


In your opinion: Praise Criticise. Write


City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More


City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More


City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More


City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More


City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More


City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More


City Mayors invites readers to write about the people in their cities. More


City Mayors examines city brands and marketing. More


City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More



City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More


City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More


City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More


City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More


City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More


City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More


City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More


City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More


City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More


Boston City Hall
By Gregor Gosciniak

12 February 2007: The 1960s-built Boston City Hall is perhaps one of the most controversially discussed municipal buildings in the world. This monumental structure, consisting of nine floors and located at the heart of the city, has been both praised and condemned.

City Hall, which contains the Lord Mayor’s office and the municipal government of Massachusetts’ biggest city, was designed by popular architects of the time Noel M. McKinnell, Edward F. Knowles and Gerhard M. Kallmann, all Columbia University professors.

In the 1962 competition to design the building, theirs was chosen out of 256 entries. Their plans revolved around the theme of creating a public and accessible character for the headquarters of the city’s government. The three worked together, in co-operation with a number of Boston architectural firms, forming the Architects and Engineers for the Boston City Hall Society, which was put in charge of building the new City Hall from 1963 to 1968.

The edifice was inspired by the concept of civic monumentality, and a variety of styles were adopted. Parts of the building seem to show the imprint of architects such as Le Corbusier. This is shown, for example, by the exposed concrete structures of the building. Then again, some elements echo instances of classical design, such as the coffers and the architrave above the concrete columns.

The City Hall is divided into three sections, incorporating both utility and aesthetics. The lowest portion of the structure, the brick-faced base (brick is typical of Boston buildings), is partially built into the hillside and consists of the four levels of the departments of city government to which the public has wide access.

The middle of the complex houses the offices of public officials, including the Mayor of the City of Boston, Thomas M. Menino, who is currently serving his fourth term. Besides the Mayor’s office, the City Council and the Council Chamber are also based in that part of the complex. The large interior and exterior spaces symbolise the ideal of a public connectedness with these areas of city government. These dramatic outcroppings contrast sharply with the character of the other two parts of the structure, which were intended to create the effect of a small city of concrete-sheltered structures.

The upper storeys contain the city government’s administrative offices and various agencies and departments, such as planning, which are not generally visited by the public. This utilitarian aspect is reflected in the standardized window patterns, which are in the style of the typical modern office building.

Today, opinions are strongly divided among locals, visitors and those who work in the building. Some praise it as a landmark that contributes to creating and controlling urban space by the use of monumentality and humanity in the best traditions of great city building.

Others, including many employees, see the building as a dark and unfriendly structure and describe it as a design failure in urban planning. In 2004, the eight-acre City Hall Plaza, which surrounds City Hall and is regularly used for parades and festivals, was chosen from hundreds of contenders as being the world’s worst single public place. But this dislike might be the result of a general ignorance of so-called ‘brutalism architecture’ found in most modern cities.


Foyer and main staircase in of Boston City Hall


Also by Gregor Gosciniak
San Francisco City Hall
Even though San Francisco has less than a million inhabitants, it has one of the biggest and most beautiful city halls in the US, with a dome taller than that of the Capitol in Washington DC. San Francisco City Hall, which opened in 1916 after the old City Hall was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, is one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the world, and it is considered to have one of the most important interior spaces in the United States.

The Beaux Arts (French for ‘fine art’) style originated in the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Many American architects studied at this architectural school, where they learned about the aesthetic principles of classical design and brought them to the United States. The style combines classical architecture from ancient Greece and Rome with Renaissance ideas. Beaux Arts is characterised by order, symmetry, formal design, grandiosity, and elaborate ornamentation. Due to the size and grandiosity of the buildings, the Beaux Arts style is most commonly used for public buildings like museums, railway stations, libraries, banks, courthouses, and government buildings.

San Francisco City Hall was build by Arthur Brown, who born in 1874. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1896, where he and his future partner, John Bakewell were students under the popular Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck. Arthur Brown completed his education in Paris where he graduated from L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1901. More