One week subsequent to the article below, the Urban Arts Institute of the Massachusetts College of Art and Mobius hosted a charrette with the Fort Point arts community to identify long-term opportunities and strategies for public art. Over 50 regional and local artists, City and State officials and other area stakeholders attended.

As a result of this forum, SAND and other neighborhood members have begun the creation of a Seaport public space registry, identifying the areas of Fort Point and the South Boston Waterfront that are owned by the public -- in the trust of City, State or Federal agencies. These public spaces will present tremendous opportunities for artists and others who wish to re-claim the vested interest we all share in them.


This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 4/6/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Needs improvement

SIX VENTILATION buildings are an essential element of the Central Artery project, and Artery engineers and designers have done their best to make them attractive. But two of the buildings, because of their location and bulk, require more work. Artery officials would be wise to tap the talents of the local arts community to improve their appearance.

One of the buildings is at the edge of Fort Point Channel, beside the South Station railyard. Its 136-foot-tall concrete exterior will soon be sheathed by aluminum similar to that on the nearby bus terminal, but its ungainly shape and obtrusive vent pipes will remain an eyesore unless artists intervene.

The vent building on Summer Street is even bigger - 193 feet tall - and it, too, will be finished so it will blend in, but until the area around it is developed - a distant prospect - it will stand out as an intrusion. Other vent buildings are camouflaged, and one that isn't, in East Boston, won a design award from the Boston Society of Architects. The two south of downtown need help.

Hundreds of artists have settled in the Fort Point area to take advantage of the old warehouses. Many feel threatened by the prospect of displacement by office and condominium developments. The arts community is making its presence felt with public displays, such as Melora Kuhn's whimsical stags atop an old water pipe in the channel. Artists from around the area - Kuhn is from Somerville - ought to get an opportunity to experiment with the look of the vent buildings.

The nonprofit Mobius group and the Urban Arts Institute at the Massachusetts College of Art are sponsoring a session on public art next week. They should put the appearance of the two vent stacks on the agenda.

Matthew Amorello, the new Massachusetts Turnpike chairman and chief executive of the Artery project, said he likes the idea and might contribute some money for the work. He or his representative ought to be invited to the planning sessions.

The Central Artery project, like other huge developments, needs the humanizing influence of artists to make it less overwhelming and a better neighbor. A public statement on the canvas of the vent buildings would signal that the arts ought to be an essential element in the development of Fort Point and the rest of the South Boston Waterfront.

This story ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 4/6/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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