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City Hall Plaza renovation

The goal of the renovation is to move toward a more accessible, sustainable, and connected public space at Boston's civic heart.

Please note: As the project progresses, we will update this page with more information.  You can learn about this exciting project and upcoming events below.

Still have questions? Contact:
Public Facilities
26 Court Street
10th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Latest updates

We've started construction on the plaza! Stay tuned for a webcam to see inside the construction site, coming soon.

City Hall Plaza overview

When all phases of the renovation are complete, the plaza will be a prime venue to host a variety of civic and social events. It will also serve as a welcoming, everyday destination.

About the project

The seven-acre plaza is one of the City’s largest civic spaces. For the last 50 years, it has hosted events ranging from sports celebrations and political rallies to seasonal cultural festivals. Mayor Walsh is investing in City Hall Plaza. The goal is to move toward a more accessible, sustainable, and comfortable shared space for all Bostonians and visitors. 

PROJECT TEAM

This project is currently under construction. The following agencies and organizations are leading the effort: 

  • the City’s Operations Cabinet
  • the Public Facilities Department
  • the Property Management Department (Maintenance)
  • the Boston Planning and Development Agency (Property Owner)
  • Sasaki, a global design firm based in the Boston area (Design Lead)
  • Skanska USA, a global project development and construction group (City's Project Manager), and 
  • Shawmut, a national construction management leader (City’s Construction Manager)
BACKGROUND

This first phase of the project builds on the principles set forth by:

The success of Boston Seasons on City Hall Plaza — including Boston Winter and The Patios — has shown the space’s potential. It has also shown the need for infrastructure improvements. We need system upgrades to sustain events of all sizes. These include improving accessibility and access to power, water, and data. We want to ensure long-term success for the City, event organizers, and vendors

PHASE 1 PROJECT SCOPE

Phase 1 of the project will deliver updated civic spaces and programming capabilities year-round. We will also add infrastructure that will make the Plaza more sustainable and user-friendly. Specific improvements include connecting Congress and Cambridge Streets with an accessible sloped promenade. The promenade will be activated by 21st century civic amenities, like:

  • shady seating and gathering areas
  • a destination play space
  • public art space, and
  • an iconic water feature.
A WELCOMING AND CIVIC FRONT YARD

Boston's renovated City Hall Plaza will become an accessible community space for residents of all abilities. Opening up the Plaza for all includes re-opening the North Entrance, which allows easier access to the second floor of the building to the public. This public-facing entrance was closed in 2001. It will open again under the new renovation plan. The renovation also includes:

  • 3,000 new welcoming spaces for residents to sit
  • 12,000 square feet of playscapes for children and families, and
  • 11,000 square feet of terraces for pop-up play and interactive public art.
FLEXIBLE AND ACCOMMODATING EVENT VENUE

Boston City Hall Plaza renovation will right-size one of Boston's largest event spaces. We will create civic event spaces that can be used by all Boston residents. The renovation includes creating six new "plug and play" locations for community events. There will be space for 10,000 - 12,000 visitors on the main Plaza. The new design will also include:

  • three smaller event and gathering places, and
  • a new civic building on Congress Street. The building will be equipped with restrooms and other facilities to support public gatherings.
A MODEL OF SUSTAINABILITY AND RESILIENCE

Creating a sustainable City Hall Plaza that meets the City's environmental goals is one of the key parts of the Plaza renovation. This renovation will make City Hall Plaza one of Boston's signature civic spaces environmentally sustainable. We’re meeting Boston's resilience standards. The renovation includes an increase in permeable surfaces that will soak up stormwater. Our goal is to plan ahead for severe weather in downtown Boston. The design also includes 100 new trees. These trees will improve the shade, scale, and air quality of the Plaza. Fifty lights will be replaced with efficient LED technology. We will also reuse and recycle 22,500 feet of granite and brick paving.

Proposed Plans

Phase 1 plan
Phase 1 renovations focus on accessibility improvements and upgrades to the event spaces. We’re also developing comfortable places to gather and play on a daily basis.
Congress gateway
Today, a wall of granite steps greets visitors on Congress Street. The plaza’s future northeast corner gateway draws visitors up into the plaza through an accessible pathway.
Cambridge gateway
We’re increasing the tree canopy at the terraces along Cambridge Street. This frames striking views of the historic west façade of the building. It also helps to improve the plaza’s resilience to rising temperatures and intensifying storms.
Main entrance
Today, inaccessible stairs and ramp-stairs block access to the building’s main entrance and upper courtyard. The plaza renovation will open these areas up with accessible pathways. It will also provide comfortable places to sit.
Speaker's corner
A new “speaker’s corner” integrates with the historic ramping. It provides the ideal platform for mayoral addresses, flag raisings, and other important civic events at the front door of City Hall.
Active in all seasons
The new terraces along Cambridge Street offer a view of activities on the main plaza and the west façade of the building year round. We’re upgrading the plaza’s infrastructure, security, loading capacity, durability, and accessibility.
Universal access
From the main plaza, the Hanover Promenade slopes gently down nineteen vertical feet to Congress Street. This replaces the historic pattern of granite stairs and brick terraces. It also includes an accessible route that hints at the original character.
Boston's new destination playscape
The playscape invigorates 14 vertical feet of existing granite steps between City Hall’s north entry and the U.S. General Services Administration terrace. There are active play opportunities that reinterpret the modern-era concrete forms of the building.
A welcoming North entry
The North Entry was originally intended to be a main public entrance to City Hall. It has been closed since September 11, 2001. The renovation will shift the lower glass façade subtly outwards.
Civic pavilion
Nestled into the grade between Congress Street and the U.S. General Serves Administration terrace above, a new civic pavilion will activate Congress Street. The pavilion will house restrooms and mechanical support for the plaza.