Architecture Critic Calls New Municipal Building a “Taj Mahal” – Next City

Architecture Critic Calls New Municipal Building a “Taj Mahal”

The new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, by design firms Sasaki and Mecanoo. (Photo by Anton Grassl/Esto)

Thoughtful historic preservation? Check. Smart design process? Check. These are just a few of the praises Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campell heaps on the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. From the paper:

The developer was the city of Boston itself. Compared with the clueless architecture often produced by the private real estate market, the Bolling is a Taj Mahal. It is a good place to work, and it is equally good as a piece of the city.

The facility incorporates elements of the grounds’ former life as the Ferdinand’s building, built in 1901 and once home to the largest furniture retailer in New England. The new building will house about 150,000 square feet of administrative offices — including for Boston Public Schools, which was recently facing preservation concerns elsewhere in the neighborhood — and ground-floor retail.

The natural light and open interior design isn’t the only element of the Dudley Square municipal building being admired. In what could serve as a foundation for future Boston redevelopment, the city created a Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force of public officials and community leaders who set specific goals for the purpose and impact of the building.

(Photo by Anton Grassl/Esto)

Campbell also applauds the fact that an independent panel was given the task of choosing the project designers:

The improbable winner was a Dutch architecture firm called Mecanoo, teamed with the Watertown firm of Sasaki Associates.

Mecanoo is well-known in Europe but had never before worked in America. Boston did the opposite of hiring a familiar, well-connected firm for the job. It reached out not only for competence but also for fresh ideas.

Now, can Mayor Marty Walsh’s recent efforts to engage city residents on a makeover for Boston’s City Hall Plaza lead to similar rave reviews?

Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

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Tags: urban planningurban designarchitecture