Much ado about… a garden

They paved paradise, and put a parking lot.” Those lyrics from Joni MItchell were what floated into my head when I saw the front page Boston Globe article on plans by Boston Children’s Hospital to build a new 12-story building on the site of the Prouty Garden. A petition is being circulated by those who want to preserve the garden, and the article includes several emotional-laden stories of parents and patients who have been able to get some fresh air and a break from the stress of hospitalization by going outside.

I’m highly sympathetic to those parents and patients. But at least based on the information presented in the article, I don’t see what the big fuss is. The Prouty Garden is listed at 23,000 square feet. Meanwhile the new building calls for 34,000 square feet of garden space including indoor and outdoor gardens and an “indoor sanctuary” on the top floor. In other words, the total garden space is being expanded by 11,000 square feet.

I’m sure the Prouty Garden is a lovely place to hang out on a day like today, when temperatures are in the high 70s and low 80s. But it’s only comfortable outdoors in Boston about half the year, so it seems to me the new indoor space, larger total square footage and rooftop views have a reasonable chance of being at least as useful for patients over time.

Don’t get me wrong. I love gardens and am not in favor of their destruction. The Prouty Garden may have special charms that can’t be replicated. Nonetheless I don’t see what the big deal is.

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By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.

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