The people who built Malden City Hall did their best to imitate Boston’s more famous seat of municipal government. Malden’s charmless version of Government Center is even harder on the eyes, and the surrounding neighborhood, than Boston’s. A squat brick monolith with a leaky roof overlooking an Orange Line station, the complex succeeds in imitating Boston in just one way: It chokes the life out of everything in its path.
Malden City Hall looks headed for the slag heap, since the building is both unloved and prohibitively expensive to maintain. City officials are moving toward putting the building out to bid for redevelopment. This doesn’t sound like a development on par with, say, the Big Dig and a clean Boston Harbor opening the Seaport’s vast parking lots to development. But the downtown rebuilding projects currently underway in Boston’s formerly industrial urban satellites will do more to shape the state than the towers rising above Fan Pier. The state’s housing shortage— brought on by decades of building new homes at a fraction of the national pace — is far too acute for Boston to tackle on its own.