As the World Cup wrapped up this past weekend with France’s victory over Croatia, we conclude an event that brings our global community together every four years. Some fans gather to cheer for their home country or that of their ancestors, while others adopt an underdog team or one with a compelling story.
Around the globe, people duck out of work to gather in crowded bars and pubs, huddle around office computers, and glance at their laptops while in meetings or on a conference call to catch the latest results. (One popular Argentine skit online featured a man confessing “Yes, I work, but less… during the World Cup everybody works less.”) It is a collective global experience that brings us together through friendly competition.
It has been especially rewarding to see these moments of collective joy and camaraderie play out in The Exchange at 100 Federal Street, a new 20,000 square foot public winter garden in the heart of Boston’s financial district and just steps away from our Boston studio. As the project designer, it is professionally rewarding to witness the space alive with activity as people broke away from work to support their favorite team. In this era when everything is portable and one can watch the games from anywhere—on a phone on a train, or a laptop in the living room—the daily crowd at The Exchange has been a reminder of the value of shared experience. Fellow citizens are united in a special place, around a shared event, focused on one giant screen.
People walking along Congress Street could not miss the energetic crowd within the building. The action emanating from the 525 square foot screen engaged passersby to stop and peer through the glass, slowly forming an impromptu viewing party on the sidewalk. Entering into the spirited crowd gathered for Brazil vs. Belgium I saw the obvious supporters sporting the kit of their favorite team, but other’s allegiances became apparent only during a goal or penalty, announced by an eruption of cheering or a gasp and groan followed by a sudden hand clap to the head. It was then I realized my neighbor was rooting for the other team, and we could engage in some good-natured ribbing each time one team surged forward or made a fatal mistake. The moments of your team’s success are amplified when you are immersed in the roar of a crowd and are surrounded by collegial high-fiving and recounting what just happened.
It is these types of collective events and rituals that make a place meaningful to a city, and through which they become an essential and memorable experience in our urban life. I personally look forward to the many exciting events ahead at The Exchange, and to its future as the living room of the financial district.