Posted by georgejkelso on Jan 21, 2010.

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HIERARCHY OF OPEN SPACES

IN ALL SUCCESSFUL URBAN PLAZAS, EVERY SPACE ALWAYS HAS A VIEW OUT INTO SOME OTHER LARGER ONE. THE SPACES ARE APPROACHED AND WORK TOGETHER, TO FORM A UNIFIED HIERARCHY OF SPACES.
This proposal for the redesign of City Hall Plaza has integrated the above principles that are similar to all of the great European Plazas, specifically the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Piazza del Compo in Siena, Place de la Concord, Paris and the celebrated Place Royal in Nancy. With the addition of the new Building on Cambridge Street providing CONTAINMENT of the existing space and the new pedestrian bridge CONNECTING pedestrians up to (what is now a dangerous, fragmented space from City Hall Plaza . . . you will experience an animated, safe uninterrupted line of pedestrian movement through a hierarchy of open spaces being progressively LARGER in size, each with a sense of containment but with a view out to the larger space.
These principles of (1) containment and (2) the progression through the hierarchy of spaces with an uninterrupted line of pedestrian movement where you feel safe secure and nurtured in your approach to the central Plaza. These principles are clearly articulated and affirmed clear by John R. Meyer and Margaret H. Meyer in their sharing of direct on-site experiences of the Piazza San Marco in their book PEOPLE and PLACES page 23. “Containment also offers one particular reason why we so delight in being in the Piazza San Marco in Venice, where as Boston’s government center leave us cold. We feel contained in the former and exposed in the latter. The approach to the piazza San Marco is via narrow winding pathways that lead past shops, over bridges, along canals, and across small squares, until we explode through a colonnade into the great square itself. Across from us at the far end is the glistening San Marco Basilica, flanked by the ducal place, with the Campanile, the great brick tower to the right, the clock tower to the left. On either side of the long flanks of the long flanks of the square are colonnades with shops and cafés. People stroll, shop, and sit at cafes where they talk and listen to music."
Boston’s City Hall Plaza is also a space of great size, with Boston City Hall, a powerful handsome building sitting in it . . . but in contrast to the containment of (and approach) to Piazza San Marco it is variably and incoherently contained on all four corners. Only when we compare this particular American urban Plaza do we discover how uncontained and disconnected the approach to Boston City Hal Plaza truly is . . . leaving us exposed and uneasy.”

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