Mayor Walsh Wants to Fix City Hall Plaza

The Soviet style moonscape needs a reboot.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is seeking proposals to further revamp the Soviet style brickscape known as City Hall Plaza. The sad, windswept plaza, with its random stairs and poor drainage, has been an atrocious public space in the heart of the city for decades.

We’ve been down this path before with previous mayors, but this time Walsh seems serious. He, along with other candidates, expressed a strong desire to fix City Hall while on the campaign trail in 2013. As mayor, Walsh has taken minor steps to improve the space as much as possible without bringing in a bulldozer. Like the mayors before him, Walsh has gone on record frequently saying he is not fond of the building or the space that surrounds it.

In 2014, Walsh solicited vendors for a possible redesign of the plaza, as well as city hall. The city is reportedly still negotiating a deal with a prospective vendor to craft a vision for the seven-acre plaza over the long haul.

In this instance, the city is seeking a partner for a three-year period to enhance City Hall Plaza by adding “elements” and programming to make it a better public space. 

“We’re looking for a partner with an innovative plan to unlock this potential and transform the plaza into a must-see destination for residents and visitors alike. Together, we want to reimagine the plaza as a thriving, healthy and innovative civic space,” said Walsh in a statement.

In addition to improving the plaza right away, the vendor chosen by the city will work with other designers to craft a long-term plan for the space.

This summer, the city added Adirondack chairs and AstroTurf to the space around City Hall. It’s not exactly the greatest greenspace in the world, but it does make the place less depressing to look at. The addition of cornhole as an activity on the plaza is a nice touch, too. Concerts and public activities on the plaza like viewings of World Cup games have noticeably increased under a Walsh administration.

A third proposal, set to be released at an unspecified date, will seek vendors to operate a “civic/cultural entity in City Hall, whose presence would complement the cultural and historic institutions in the area.”


Garrett Quinn
Garrett Quinn Garrett Quinn, Boston Magazine bmagdigital+gquinn@gmail.com