This transformation of Boston City Hall with improvements to its main plaza-level Lobby, redesign of the public Transaction Windows, and a recharacterization of the entire building through a renewed lighting scheme, sought to drastically transform the building’s physical, ideological, and emotional presence within the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Designed by Kallmann, McKinnell, and Knowles in the 1960s as an expression of open and progressive municipal government, City Hall is recognized as among the most important municipal buildings in the United States and is internationally known as an exemplar of Brutalism.
Changes in technology and security needs have rendered the once-open Lobby cramped and unwelcoming. The project’s mandate was to create a more inviting and efficient public realm for the most prominent civic building in the city - often the main interface with constituents - not so much by changing the existing building, but accentuating its significant features, and adapting it to changing programs. This was achieved by redesigning the security sequence, improving navigation through new wayfinding, adding a coffee kiosk and comfortable seating for visitors, replacing the non-functioning original lighting with LEDs to improve light levels and gain energy efficiency, and redesigning the permitting, licensing, and ticketing transaction windows that residents visit for increased efficiency, clarity, and comfort.
New wayfinding and signage elements in the main Lobby, elevator lobbies, and other public areas throughout the building utilize the City’s new graphic identity. The new lighting plan uses LED technology to celebrate the building’s architecture and restore its original design intent of civic aspiration and monumentality, while providing color-changing flexibility and meeting the City’s sustainability goals. The new scheme removes the unsightly flood lights that were added to the building over the years to make City Hall a more vibrant, safe, and welcoming space at the city’s civic heart.