The Landscape Architect’s Guide to

Boston

Financial District / Government Center

City Hall Plaza

Your Guide
Susannah Ross, ASLA
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Boston City Hall Plaza arose out of the Government Center urban renewal plan, authored by I.M. Pei and Partners in 1961, which proposed to regenerate and renew what had become a somewhat unsavory area—the West End and Scollay Square. The City Hall and Plaza were designed by Kallman McKinnell & Knowles in 1962, and constructed from 1963 – 1968.

The 8-acre brick-paved plaza has received its share of criticism over the years, for being vast, hard, and inhospitable, but it was a bold modernist statement in a then-traditional city that responded to and integrated with the Brutalist architecture of City Hall itself.

The design deftly negotiates a 20-foot change in grade from Cambridge Street on the east to Congress Street on the west, and continues to provide a durable, flexible, grandly-scaled space for some of the city’s biggest cultural events.
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