We’d be destroying an aesthetic treasure
Back Bay residents have been trying to persuade the mayor and parks commissioner to restore Copley Square since 2015. The proposed redesign cannot compare with the beauty and appropriateness of the current design of Copley Square (“Copley Square plan final,” Business, April 30).
Today, Copley Square features an elaborate, intricately designed fountain with vertical elements that reflect the tower of Old South Church, so it connects Copley Square to its architectural surroundings beautifully. The fountain and the adjoining pool provide a focal point and oasis in a busy city park.
The new proposal features a platform suspended over a massive slab of concrete (the plaza), with a concrete bunker under a layer of water (the fountain), and some trees and planters scattered around the edges. The design makes no perceptible reference to the historic context of the square (other than sight lines). The concrete is dead space. Clearly it would be durable, utilitarian, and functional, but at what cost?
It grieves me that we are destroying something aesthetically rich and beautiful to replace it with something commonplace and ugly. We need a stunning, original, beautiful design that truly enhances the neighborhood and city.
Current square has its problems, but this plan adds more
We have never gotten Copley Square right — and here we go again.
I’m no fan of the present 1980s Copley Square. And there are some laudable aspects to the new Sasaki design — for instance, the area between Boylston Street and the side of Trinity Church, and at least the suggestion of incorporating Dartmouth Street. But in the redesign’s present form, the space between Trinity and the Boston Public Library seems an incoherent mess that bears no relationship to, or understanding of, two of 19th-century Boston’s (and America’s) seminal works of architecture and the dialogue between them. Desire lines — that is, well-trod paths — and view angles are all well and good, but by themselves all they leave you with is visual and spatial cacophony.
The space between Trinity and the BPL should be rethought and better understood to fully take them into account as urban actors in an urban context (and a lawn really does not belong right in front of Trinity’s portico). I suggest that, at present, both buildings are disrespected by this not-fully-resolved design.
Dennis De Witt
What Back Bay needs is a really green space
The planned Copley Square renovation, at a cost to the city of more than $15 million, would be lovely as part of the High Line in New York or the Seaport in Boston, but as a heavily used park in the heart of Back Bay, it is a complete fail:
Focal points are Dartmouth Street, and not the 11th-century Romanesque-influenced Trinity Church, which the American Association of Architects has called one of the most significant buildings in the country? Not Charles Follen McKim’s Renaissance masterpiece the Boston Public Library?
Maintenance-intensive elevated structures dangerous for seniors, children, and those in a hurry? No sensible space accessible for the successful farmers market, one of the best uses of the square? Hard, misshapen public spaces that will crowd spectators into cramped areas?
Putting new trees at the bus stop on St. James Avenue, which would create a blind spot for pedestrians crossing Dartmouth Street? And occasionally closing Dartmouth Street, which would make Berkeley Street even more of a traffic nightmare?
The Public Garden is a model of what people want in crowded cities of concrete: lawns, paths, flowers, benches, and charming sculptures. Please, Boston, don’t do this to the Back Bay. Please honor our history and create another really green space to bring together the historic buildings around Copley Square.
Susan W. Morris