Urban Fold

The Shaper of Boston

The Boston Globe features an extensive profile of Kairos Shen, the city's new chief planner. Shen has had a hand in shaping most major projects in Boston already, and is poised to be a key player in Boston's future.

"Shen's first job was determining the scope, location, and legislation required to make a go of a new convention center. He worked on the plans for the new South Boston waterfront development and met extensively with South Boston activists to get community buy-in. He worked with the old Red Sox owners when they were considering moving Fenway Park, and he spearheaded that neighborhood's new zoning. His fingerprints have gotten deeper and more visible as his tenure and seniority have lengthened.

It is conventional wisdom that [Mayor] Menino wields the power over which projects get built, how they get built, and which get, well, not "rejected" so much as endlessly tied up until they just fade away. Menino, however, credits Shen with guiding his thinking on these issues. "What do I know about architecture?" the mayor tells me, although he acknowledges it hasn't stopped him from lending design assistance on projects from time to time (we can thank him for the addition of that dome on top of 111 Huntington Avenue). "Kairos is a respected, outstanding planner and urban designer. He's been my go-to guy for many years. We began this journey together, and he's been a point person for me. I rely on him because I have total trust in his creativity and his judgment." That, Menino adds, is why he named him chief planner, giving him the responsibility for determining where the city is going, what it needs, where it needs it, and how it's going to get there."

Full Story: The Shaper of Things to Come

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