Which of these two buildings do you prefer? If Mayor Menino gets his way the new City Hall will be more like the second image and the first one will be gone. While I grew to admire the exterior of City Hall during my days there, particularly near sundown when a ray of light would illuminate the chiseled words Boston City Hall as I walked back in from Starbucks, there is no question that the interior of the building and the surrounding plaza are a dreadful example of period design. When my guide who took me through East Berlin visited me in Boston in 2005, he couldn’t get over the building’s similarity with the severe Communist structures despised by him and his peers!
When it comes to the mayor, everybody knows I am not an unbiased source. Until last June, I was his press secretary. Having said that, I learned first-hand that one of his most underestimated aspects was his political imagination. The mayor can see where the city is going before anybody else. We caught a glimpse of his development direction last year when he proposed Boston’s tallest office tower.
Now he has gone a step further. The mayor has continually expressed confidence in the South Boston waterfront. He proposed the convention center, which many, including me, wrongly saw as a white elephant. This morning at the Chamber of Commerce, he took an even more sweeping position. He proposed the city move out of City Hall and move into a new building on Boston’s waterfront near the new Institute for Contemporary Art. I’m sure this plan will garner its share of criticism. But I’ll bet on the mayor. Of all the officials I have observed in public life, the mayor has something few others share — tenacity.