Mayor Menino Celebrates Community Arcade Opening on City Hall Plaza
Meredith Baumann, BRA
Trust for City Hall Plaza, BRA, Community Artist, Performers, Area Restaurants Join in Festivities to Mark the Completion of Phase One of the Plaza's Revitalization
Mayor Thomas M. Menino hosted a multi-cultural extravaganza at City Hall on Thursday, February 1 to mark the completion of the Community Arcade, phase one of the revitalization planned for City Hall Plaza. Joined by Boston Redevelopment Authority Director Mark Maloney, Trust for City Hall Plaza Board Chairman Bob Walsh and Executive Director Ann Donner, Mayor Menino praised the structure for it's unique and inviting design. "We have waited a long time for this day. And today, all the potential we have envisioned for this space finally comes to light," said Mayor Menino, referring to the event's Lighting Ceremony, in which a ribbon cutting triggered the unique lighting of the Arcade's 13 stainless steel columns.
The columns are considered a hallmark of the structure, equipped with digital lighting, a programmable technology with the capacity to produce over 1 million light changing effects. The Arcade is currently set to go through special light sequences on the hour and at quarter to the hour, putting a new twist on public square clock towers.
A notable example of modern architecture, the Arcade is 300 feet in length, extending from the Government Center T Station along the Plaza's Cambridge Street edge. The structure also features three seating platforms constructed of hardwood that overlook the plaza, a wooden trellis supported by a galvanized frame with stainless steel suspension rods, and banner display space on five of the stainless steel columns.
"The space we have created has a wide and exciting range of uses. We knew that we wanted the Plaza to be a place for every day use, with the potential for special events, festivities, performances, and displays, drawing all of Boston?s communities here," said Ann Donner of the Trust. Added Mayor Menino, "The Community Arcade will be a great gathering place for the people of this City. This space belongs to all of us, it's Boston's front yard."
Thursday's event was intended to showcase the activities envisioned for the space, including three Farmer's Market vendors, who represented the Federation of Massachusetts Farmer's Markets and will use the Arcade on Mondays and Wednesdays from May through November. A multi-cultural hors d'oeuvres reception sponsored by a variety of Boston's restaurants was held inside City Hall, along with an art exhibit featuring the work of dozens of Boston artists. Children's artwork, created by participants in Boston's 2:00-to-6:00 After School Initiative, was also on display. Many of Boston's performing arts took part in the celebration, as well, including the Gustavo Agatiello Quartet, Project Step (String Training and Education Program for Students of Color), and Gund Kwok; the Asian Women's Lion Dance Troupe, to name a few. The event was sponsored by Beacon Capital Partners, Broadway Electric, Sovereign Bank New England, Van Noorden Architectural Metal Work, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., and Verizon Communications, Inc.
"We have an incredible pool of talent here in Boston and we have a responsibility to tap into that talent and showcase it at events like this one and at venues like the Arcade. They are a welcomed piece of what we hope will happen here," said BRA Director Mark Maloney. In early December, the Trust for City Hall Plaza and the BRA issued a "Call to Artists," to engage the artist communities early in the planning stages for the opening event, asking them to design commemorative banners for the February 1 celebration. Banners designed by Joanne Kaliontzis and Danny O'Connor (known as "Danny O") of the Fort Point Artists Community were chosen as the winners, capturing the excitement planners had envisioned for the opening event. Criteria met by the Kaliontzis and Danny O included creating designs that respect the architect of the Arcade, that relay the celebratory nature of the opening, and that communicate a welcome to all people in all neighborhoods of Boston. The winning banners, which are currently displayed on the Arcade, read "People," "Liberty," "Seaport," "History," "Food," five distinct and truly unique designs that range from the whimsical to the traditional and reflect the wide range of people and activities the City of Boston hopes to see on the Community Arcade.
Mayor Menino formed the Trust for City Hall Plaza in 1995 to work with the City to formulate and implement a plan for the Plaza that would create a welcoming civic environment for neighbors, community, and visitors. Led by Norman Leventhal and Robert Walsh of the Trust's Board of Directors, the Trust held public meetings to engage the citizens of Boston in the development of the Plaza. Through extensive collaboration and dedication to the revitalization mission, the Community Arcade concept was adopted as part of the first phase of the revitalization of City Hall Plaza. "No one gave up on this. The Community Arcade stands here today thanks to the time, energy and dedication of so many people who have been committed to seeing this project through," said Mayor Menino. The Trust continues to work closely with the BRA, the MBTA, and the General Services Administration on plans for further revitalization of the Plaza, including the reconstruction of the Government Center T station and redesign of the John F. Kennedy building Upper Plaza.