Hey Mayor Walsh: Put a Few of These in City Hall Plaza

Give the civic space a breath of fresh air—literally.

Mayor Marty Walsh has spent his first two years in office tinkering with City Hall Plaza, a polarizing monument to brutalism that runneth over with untapped potential for development. “BULLDOZE IT!” read the Herald‘s front page when Walsh, then on the campaign trail, expressed his desire to spruce things up at the city’s locus of power.

Since then, Walsh had added a few Adirondack chairs here, a Brady Bunch lawn there, and hosted a handful of events, from a U.S. soccer watch party to a roller disco tribute to fellow Dorchester native Donna Summer. Walsh’s office announced last week it was soliciting proposals from contractors for a three-year deal offering “new programming elements to complement existing activities on the plaza,” as well as “new temporary amenities.”

“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,” Walsh said in a statement.

May we make a suggestion?

Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde, Delft Technology University researcher Bob Ursem, and European Nano Solutions, a green tech company in the Netherlands, have collaborated to create the Smog Free Tower, an amazing invention seemingly plucked from a Stanley Kubrick film, capable of purifying one million cubic feet of air per hour. Using ion technology, the tower draws in smog-filled air through the top and expels clean air through vents at its base.


“The technology is actually, sort of borrowed from indoor air unifying technology, which is used in hospitals. But we are just upscaling it and building the largest electronic vacuum cleaner in the world,” Roosegaarde said in a video. “The Smog Free Tower, the Smog Free Park, the bubble of clean air creates a place where NGOs, concerned citizens, makers like you and me can meet, can work, can think together what do we need to do to make a whole city smog-free.”

One already stands in a Rotterdam park in the Netherlands. Roosegaarde has spoken to city officials in Mumbai, Mexico City, Paris, and Beijing about installing towers there as well. Why not us? Boston could be the first city in the United States to make city air something sought after.

The brutalist, cement design of Boston’s anachronistic City Hall exudes staleness. A breath of fresh air in the figurative sense would take hundreds of millions if a wholly new building were to replace the old one. A breath of fresh air in the literal sense, however, is far more doable.

[h/t WIRED]