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Boston City Council chamber redesign focuses on accessibility

Automation and lighting also part of the revamp that retained chamber’s Brutalist motif

Photos by Raj Das Photography and courtesy of Finegold Alexander Architects

The Boston City Council’s City Hall chamber has been redesigned to make it more easily accessible and inclusive, according to the city and Finegold Alexander Architects, the firm behind the redesign.

That redesign, the completion of which was officially announced December 10, retained the famousor infamous, depending on one’s architectural views—Brutalist motif of the chamber, which fits in with the larger City Hall complex.

Perhaps the most noticeable change to the chamber was that the floor where City Council members sit was raised to be flush with the surrounding main floor level. Aisle widths and seating were also adjusted to make both more accessible to those in wheelchairs.

Public lecterns are more accessible under the redesign and the council president’s podium can now be automatically adjusted height-wise. There were further changes to the aesthetics—note the drapery in these photos—and to the acoustics and lighting, all to modernize a space that had long retained much of the logistical feel of its 1968 origins.

“The Council Chamber is now fully functional, accessible, and state-of-the-art, and will continue to connect us with the history of our building and our city,” council President Michelle Wu said in a statement. “It has been wonderful to partner with this team to renovate, redesign, and upgrade the space while honoring the iconic nature of City Hall’s architecture.”