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I wish every developer could be as smart as the team that put together the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury.
The developer was the city of Boston itself. Compared with the clueless architecture often produced by the private real estate market, the Bolling is a Taj Mahal. It is a good place to work, and it is equally good as a piece of the city.
The city-as-developer punched all the right boxes on the score card of architecture and urbanism. The process that created this building deserves to be a model for Boston redevelopment.
The Bolling stands in Dudley Square. Dudley, once the heart of the Roxbury neighborhood, is now emerging from a long decline. The site on which the Bolling was to be built was an architectural junkyard, a traffic island piled with the decayed remains of three abandoned buildings.
Right from the start, the city made a thoughtful move. One of those three empty buildings had been a handsome store called Ferdinand’s. Ferdinand’s in its day was the biggest furniture retailer in New England. Built in 1901, its architecture was fashioned in the European-style elegance of that era. In shape, it resembled the Flatiron Building in New York, with a rounded prow aiming down Washington Street toward downtown Boston. ….