The downtown building boom continues, but the latest addition to the Financial District isn’t an office tower or a high-rise packed with multi-million-dollar luxury condos. It’s a humble Quaker meetinghouse, canted at about a 20-degree angle from the earth sloping beneath it.
Mark Reigelman’s “The Meeting House,” installed Sunday on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway between Pearl and Oliver streets, is part of the park’s new Playful Perspectives series.
The selection of public art pieces is intended to surprise and disorient viewers, to upend their expectations of what they might encounter as they stroll through Boston.
It includes works already installed along the 1.5-mile-long strip of parkland, such as Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s Surrealist mural on the air-intake structure at Dewey Square Park, “Spaces of Hope,” and Chris Templeman’s “Make and Take,” which includes a 3-D printer that churns out palm-size roosters in honor of the Chinese zodiac year, which visitors can keep as souvenirs.
The goal of the art pieces — and of the Greenway’s coming beer garden and its program of events that has included African, Caribbean, and Brazilian festivals — is to make the park appealing to young and old, visitors and residents, and people of all backgrounds, said Jesse Brackenbury, executive director of the Greenway Conservancy, which maintains and programs art and events for the Greenway.
“Let’s make sure this is a space that will have a lot of people come and have a high-quality experience, from all over,” Brackenbury said recently.
Reigelman hopes “The Meeting House” will make passersby stop and engage with the work — and with each other.
“That community interaction is the foundation of why I make public work,” he said in a recent interview.
Reigelman chose the Pembroke Friends Meetinghouse in Pembroke as his template, then scaled it down to a height of about 14 feet to make it a more manageable size for installation in the park. He wanted to create a structure that evoked the history of the region, he said, but would also speak to the fractious times in which we live.
“The meetinghouse for me captured that New England type of architecture in a way that felt subtle and integrated,” Reigelman said.
“I’m hoping that this will force people to reevaluate the urban landscape and … question things like local architecture,” he added later.