Urban Renewal Reconsidered: Envisioning a Sustainable Future for Boston’s Core

While Boston is known around the world for preserving and celebrating large parts of its historic fabric, the downtown core underwent major acts of Urban Renewal in the 1950\’s and 60\’s. As with other American cities of this era, \”obsolete neighborhoods\” and \”slums\” were demolished to attract new large-scale development. One of the boundaries of urban renewal in Boston circumscribes over 60 acres that includes modernist icons such as Boston\’s City Hall and City Hall Plaza (designed by Kallman McKinnell), works by Walter Gropius, Paul Rudolph and others. The recent completion of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, nearby institutional expansion and adjacent development pressures are raising the profile of this area once again as the city strives to maintain a balance between preserving its past and embracing a future. The City of Boston has identified the Government Center area as a \”Green Growth District\” that fosters economic development opportunities and showcases initiatives that embrace sustainability at a district scale. As the modernist models of planning, architecture and infrastructure show their age, the cycle of exploration will view this area through a new lens. Students will envision a new future for this area that considers adaptive reuse of existing buildings, alternative uses and new development opportunities for the original urban renewal district and its immediate environs. The hidden boundary of the urban renewal demarcation is still politically and physically charged two generations after its initial inscription and delineates a site(s) for re-evaluation. This studio is interdisciplinary. Students from the Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture are encouraged to enroll as well as the Department of Urban Planning and Design.