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$70m Boston City Hall Plaza project underway

Renderings of the final schematic design for City Hall Plaza conducted by Sasaki, the city's architectural firm.
Renderings of the final schematic design for City Hall Plaza conducted by Sasaki, the city's architectural firm.Sasaki

A two-year, $70 million renovation project for Boston’s City Hall Plaza intended to make the space more accessible and welcoming to people is now underway, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office said in a statement Saturday.

The project will connect Congress and Cambridge streets with an accessible sloped Hanover Promenade, and includes new shaded seating and gathering areas, play space, and room for public art.

Among the upgrades to the plaza will be accessibility improvements meant to make the space “universally accessible for residents of all abilities,” according to the statement. The project began last month, and Friday was the ceremonial groundbreaking.

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In the statement, Walsh said the renovation project is designed to turn the 7-acre area into a “welcoming, accessible space for all.”

“City Hall Plaza is one of Boston’s most-used public spaces, and we are working hard to create safe areas for residents to gather as we strengthen our commitment to civic services in our City,” Walsh said.

The project’s main plaza will accommodate events of up to 12,000 people, with three smaller event and gathering spaces, the statement said. The entire plaza will have room for up to 25,000 people.

There will also be a new civic building on Congress Street that is equipped with a bathroom and other facilities to help support public gatherings, the statement said.

Work also includes reopening City Hall’s North entrance to the public, which allows easier public access to the second floor of the building. The doorway has been closed to the public since Sept. 11, 2001.

Environmental improvements include the planting of 100 new trees, plus installation of 50 new energy-efficient LED lights, and increasing the area of permeable surfaces to help soak up stormwater, the statement said.

The project is estimated to be complete by Summer 2022, according to the city.

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John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.