Boston City Hall

Project Description

In our proposal for a new Boston City Hall, we considered this civic institution as a space for individual and communal public demonstration, from paying your parking tickets to protesting the mayor. We believe city hall must induce interaction between citizens and their leaders while still providing a place for the private deliberations of government officials. A series of overlapping urban rooms connect diagonally Cambridge and Hanover streets, constituting a central hall for visitors to migrate through or occupy. The mass of city hall is at once voided by the central hall and at the same time frames its chambers. It is broken up so as to allow site connections on an East-West axis between Cambridge and Congress Streets through a series of ramps.

All City Hall departments can be accessed along the central hall’s ground floor or by large public cores that take you to the upper-level offices. While separated on the ground floor, offices above bridge over the main space and enable interdepartmental circulation and spaces for collaboration. Departments that necessitate heavy public interaction are positioned on the ground floor facing the hall, thereby facilitating access and transforming the hall into a communal waiting area.

Programs that are essential to city hall’s identity - the city council chamber, the reference library, and the mayor’s office - are located within and adjacent to the central hall’s main space. These program adjacencies provide a visual connection between city hall visitors and their elected officials. The council chamber, positioned within the central hall, is enclosed by rotating partitions that allow for the public to inhabit the space when the council is not in session.
The central hall, as an undefined space, lends itself to multiple uses and forms of public function. In this way, the central hall becomes a space of overlapping public assembly.