Send your letters to Preservation@nthp.org, 1785 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20036, or submit a comment below. Please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. All letters may be edited for length and clarity.At the Center of the Storm
Boston City Hall is not only an important building, it is a great building (March/April). It may not please everyone (no building ever does), but it is part of Boston's—and America's—architectural legacy, and it must be preserved. I've read that after designing the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University, Le Corbusier said he would never design another building in America because we do not appreciate good architecture. Perhaps Mayor Menino and everyone involved in saving and caring for Boston City Hall will dispel that notion.
I will never forget the first time I saw Boston City Hall as a 15-year-old kid coming out of the bunker-like subway station. Here was this amazing Mayan-looking structure in the middle of a huge plaza. I was in awe. It was so unlike Boston! That was exactly the point when Boston City Hall was built. It was meant to be a bold statement: Out with tradition! Boston is reborn! Boston City Hall is a product of its time, bold and deliberately unconventional. Many people are too close in time to fully appreciate City Hall's historical significance, but I am sure that one day, people will come to visit the building specifically for its unique architecture.
Fleming Island, Fla.
I was aghast when I read the article in your March/April issue on the movement to preserve Boston's City Hall. I lived in Boston when it was built, and I remember Scollay Square, which was destroyed to make room for the new monstrosity. The old square surely would have appeared on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's c. 1960 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. So you may understand why I maintain as forcefully as I can that Boston's City Hall should not be preserved: Rather, it should be exorcised. After that, the plaza should be allowed to lie fallow for a generation. Maybe by then cooler heads could find a way to build something of genuinely functional use.
William E. Ramsden
The Old School Aproach
The Smiley Building project (March/April) neglected to get some building permits and didn't receive the consent of the Colorado Historical Foundation for the solar panels. Owners Shaw and Bodwalk look fetching on the magazine cover, but behind them is a great wall of particle board, which off-gasses formaldehyde. What does all this add up to? To this reader, that "green" is an overused and vague term. Passion and skills well applied to adapting old buildings are as important as they ever were, as exemplified in the Smiley Building. But we would do better to describe those qualities directly, and reserve the word "green" for the color of moss.
Silver Spring, Md.
During our years in Durango, we were pleased by the old Smiley Junior High School conversion, featured in Preservation. Your article did not hint where the National Trust for Historic Preservation stands, however, when "green adaptation" of an old classic ignores historic preservation rules. Shaw's defense that "we've never gotten a permit from the city, and no one ever had a problem" tarnishes his halo.
Marion and Mike Griswold
Your brief article "Change of Address" (March/April), about the Island Housing Trust's house-moving program on Martha's Vineyard, was a great story for those seeking a connection between preservation and affordable housing. The classic New England thriftiness displayed by the IHT is something that must be produced by the saltwater spray off the coast of Cape Cod; over on Nantucket Island, Housing Nantucket has been running a "House Recycling" program since 1994 with a similar model. Through it, we've created 22 affordable rental units. I doubt there is anything thriftier than saving a building for reuse.