BASEA Project, Greening Boston City Hall

Greening Boston City Hall

A long-term project to transform Boston City Hall and Plaza with sustainable design.

Help us transform the ill-used Boston City Hall and Plaza into a beacon of adaptive green design. We envision sustainable design for the building and the plaza. This green transformation will soften the fortress quality of the building and the barren harshness of the old plaza hardscape into a green environment to be enjoyed by all. A new Green Center of Boston will be cherished by visitors and Bostonians alike, as they explore historic downtown, shop, seek information, apply for licenses, watch performers, relax, transit, dine out, or gather for public events. The present negative impacts of the plaza on stormwater runoff, noise, urban heat island and the natural environment would also be reduced.

Within this transformed Plaza, Boston City Hall will be a shining example of a green environment, a metamorphosis from neglected Cinderella to a re-born place for our city employees and our citizens. This renewed environment will be flooded with natural daylight, will establish healthy attractive interiors that are comfortable in all seasons and will preserve the best features of the original architectural design. This will enable a transformation from concrete façades and empty cavernous spaces to walls of green plants, green roofs, solar arrays, energy efficiency and fresh air. This will save the city and taxpayers millions of dollars in maintenance and energy costs each year as well as tons of carbon. This will set an example for all the buildings in Boston.

Boston also has a tradition of leadership in the preservation and transformation of historic buildings and places. In this new century, City Hall can reclaim the trend-setting role it established when it was conceived nearly 50 years ago. We support the City in their recent efforts to shelve plans to replace this landmark. What kind of a sustainable future would we have if we abandoned or tore down all our existing buildings? What example does this provide for the next generation? Join us in remaking City Hall, and in encouraging a new ecological mantle for our city’s center.


Members of our current Core Group of the Green City Team have been working together for approximately 20 years, associated through various sustainable design programs in the greater Boston area co-chairing committees, conferences and courses with the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, Boston Society of Architects, the Boston Solar Energy Association and teaching with various local Schools of Architecture.

This Core Group of the Green City Team will continue developing visualizations and studying appropriate design, planning and engineering strategies, as well as advocating though presentations and networking for the Greening of Boston City Hall. The ultimate goal of our work is to lobby for an eventual open competition for transforming both the Building and its integration with the Plaza that surrounds it to a 21st century asset at the heart of Boston.

Core Group of the Green City Team

Henry MacLean, AIA, LEED AP Timeless Architecture

Franziska Amacher, AIA, LEED AP Amacher and Associates

Gerard Ives, LEED AP Architect Ives Architects

Mark Kelley, PE, LEED AP Hickory Consortium

Past and Present Endorsing Supporters

(Advisory group under development)

Wagdy Anis, FAIA, LEED, AP, Principal, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

John Cooke, PE, Professor Emeritus, MIT

David DelPorto, President, ECOS; Newton Green Decade Coalition

Don Di Rocco, CAD Instructor, Boston Architectural College

Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D, P.Eng., Building Science Consulting

Peter R. Nobile III, AIA, LEED, LDa Architecture and Interiors

Elizabeth Padjen, FAIA, Architecture Boston Magazine

William G. Reed, AIA, LEED Integrative Design Collaborative, Inc.

Elena Saporta, Elena Saporta Landscape Architects

Ambrose Spencer, NESEA Board Member, Lifetime Award Recipient

Jeff Stein, AIA Dean, Boston Architectural College

Steve Strong, President, Solar Design Associates

Michal Szymanski, Graduate, Boston Architectural College

John Todd, Director, Ocean Arks International

Henry Vandermark, President, Solar Wave Energy, Inc.

Sim van der Ryn, Ecological Design Institute

Dr. Karen Weber, Foundation for a Green Future, Inc.

In 2008, we were actively networking with City Councilor Michael Flaherty and staff, helping the Councilman’s office with their hosting of a City Council Hearing on November 18, 2008 that focused on Greening Boston City Hall. Councilor Flaherty has become one outspoken champion of exploring alternatives to moving Boston City Hall and transforming the existing building.

We continue to expand our understanding of this complex City Center through networking with others. This list includes the BRA, their plans for a Green Growth Sector for the Government Center; The Boston Society of Architects Urban Design Committee, the "Boston Preservation Alliance", and their involvement with a group of dedicated “ Citizens for City Hall” an Advocacy Group lobbying to keep City Hall in Government Center; the "Place-making Committee" of the BSA, looking at minimal cost solutions that make the inside and outside of the building more hospitable and livable; and the annual "Boston Greenfest", that hosts the green fair on City Hall Plaza focused on showcasing Green Technology and Businesses for the people of Boston.


A. Energy consumption reduction through heat recovery ventilation via the atria. Envelope improvements, green roofs, localized personalized conditioning and improved day lighting from opened up floor plates in atria.

B. More openness and accessibility of the building through program changes. Adding commercial spaces to City Hall on Congress Street side. Increasing transparency through building by adding openings in exterior walls and through circulation paths from Congress Street to the upper plaza.

C. Recycling and sensitively adding on to the existing armature using the mass of the building to store energy, green roofs, water, materials, energy, air and place reuse.

D. Carbon neutral explorations & improved space efficiency by adding upwards of an additional 100,000 square foot of usable and leasable space within City hall. This step of enclosing open spaces can significantly reduce the Carbon footprint of the building, which along with purchased green power and some new renewable energy sources on site, will allow City Hall to work towards becoming a Carbon Neutral Building.

E. Improved workspaces with connection to light and nature through opening up spaces by redesign, and possible expansion on a number of floors.

F. Improved worker health and retention by improving the overall performance of the building, the interior air quality, the feel of the building and uses of spaces that can foster a sense of pride and health for City Hall employees, residents of Boston, and a sign of our pride in the City those who visit Boston.

G. Improved circulation systems with much clearer paths informing people where they are and how to use the building as a workplace and as a Civic center, simultaneously.

Read the full piece "Green City Vision" (6 pages, updated January 2009). See "related documents".

City Hall 2

City Hall 2

View of City Hall from SW. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

View of City Hall from SW. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

View of City Hall from SE. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

View of City Hall from SE. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

Section view of City Hall. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

Section view of City Hall. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

View of City Hall from East. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

View of City Hall from East. A vision of the Greening Boston City Hall project.

Related Documents

Green City Vision
A workbook for greening Boston City Hall. By the Green City Team, New England Sustainable Energy Association and Boston Area Solar Energy Association. 6 pages, updated January 2009.
File type: application/pdf
Green Design Leadership for Boston's City Center
Green Team Presentation, November 18, 2008
File type: application/pdf
Project Progress Report: Proposal for a Sustainable Renovation of Boston City Hall 1997
Presentation at Wentworth Institute of Technology to Michael Galvin and Basic City Services, April 9 1997
File type: application/pdf
Sustainable/Green Architecture For City Hall and City Hall Plaza
Presentation to Mayor Menino's Cabinet, July 1997. Concept proposal from Wentworth Institute of Technology, Architecture team. Sustainable/Green Architecture for City Hall & City Hall Plaza.
File type: application/pdf
Greening Boston City Hall, posterboards
Greening Boston City Hall, posterboards for the project (PDF file).
File type: application/pdf
Restoration of a Traditional City: Boston in the 21st Century, by Henry P. MacLean
Study for Historical Context in Greening City Hall. NESEA Building Energy Conference 2001.
File type: application/pdf
Past Futures
Proposals to fix City Hall and its Plaza. Architecture Boston Magazine, "City Hall," May-June 2005.
File type: application/pdf
Concrete Dreams, by John King
Architecture Boston September/October 2007, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 40-43 “Re-Imagining City Hall.”
File type: application/pdf