|Photo by Kham Tran, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
Capitalizing on the success of the London Eye (above) in giving the British capital an iconic funfair focal point akin to Paris's Eiffel Tower and Seattle's Space Needle, Delaware North Cos. of Buffalo is proposing an observation wheel as part of its City Hall Plaza revitalization plan, touting it as "an unexpected option, but it might just be the concept that will jumpstart the vitality needed for City Hall Plaza."
Unexpected, indeed — and unwarranted.
|Photo by Ernst Halberstadt, courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Wikimedia Commons|
|Photo by Charlene McBride, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
|Photo by Scott Taylor, courtesy of the U.S. Navy|
|Photo by MarkGGN, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
Observe how the sweeping parkland-riverfront sitings of the Eiffel Tower and the Space Needle and the Thames river-edge of the London Eye, almost unobstructed by skyscrapers and streetwalls, allow visitors to experience the expanse of the landscape virtually from the moment of liftoff. Furthermore, such open spaces are necessary for these structures to fully reveal their sculptural presence from many directions: the Eiffel's parabolic "arc de triomphe" grandeur, celebrating the mathematical wonders of engineering; the Space Needle's outerworldly soar, symbolizing America's quest for space travel...
|Photo by The Narratographer, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
...and the London Eye's Claes Oldenburg giantism, taking the form of a titanic bicycle wheel, as a monument to the tensile elegance and cooperative strength of spoke-structure in transportation engineering. By contrast, the barriers of Center Plaza and the JFK Building and the cluster of Financial District skyscrapers would limit views of an observation wheel to only a few directions — and doubtless its design would not match the London Eye's refinement.
Also, the string of poles and benches along Cambridge Street has become a folly; nobody ever sits there or flies flags there. And, like the headhouse and the polechain, a Ferris wheel would screen out City Hall from one angle; Pei intended its prominence from all angles along Tremont and Cambridge.
Besides, in the wintertime the wheel would become as useless as the poles and benches, just sitting and rusting while waiting for spring. Not a very elegant use for such a costly venture.
So: Eye say "Nay" to the Boston Eye. City Hall Plaza should be transformed into a vibrant, attractive center of culture, community and commonwealth — not another Six Flags.
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