Thursday, August 20, 2009

How did this happen?

At a time when the MBTA seems to be falling a little bit further apart every day, I thought it would be nice to give a little credit where credit is due. The new Maverick Square Station on the Blue Line (above, photographed by yours truly) has just opened in my neighborhood, and it's pretty wonderful - far better than anyone had a right to believe it could be (below left, the modernist bunker it replaced, which looks like something that crawled out of Government Center - truly, a building only Robert Campbell could love!). How was this allowed to happen? It's incredible how much the designers got right - even the traffic flow in the square has been improved by the new curb and crosswalk designs. Why didn't some committee within the MBTA shoot this down? How come neighborhood input didn't ruin the design? Clearly someone was not doing their job!

But thank God DMJM Harris (now AECOM), a global engineering outfit specializing in transit, was doing their job - which may be why the design is an unmannered combination of traditional forms, sparkling with lightness and transparency,with a dozen good ideas squeezed into it (the brand-new bike racks below; there's even a tiny clock tower at one corner). It's not, I admit, perfect - the concrete floor down below looks like it may not hold up well, and there's the usual lack of construction craftsmanship here and there. But these caveats seem like nothing before the overwhelming success of the above-ground pavilion. Yes, Virginia, good public design is possible - even in Boston.

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