Posts tagged with "Boston":

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Retrofitting Brutalism: Peabody Terrace

[Note: Retrofitting Brutalism appears online in three articles, each highlighting a different project. To read the series introduction and explore the first project, the Boston University Law Tower, visit here. This second article features the Peabody Terrace; the third piece focuses on the Holyoke Center.]

Peabody Terrace

• Date of Retrofit: 1995, window replacement 2004 (original construction 1962) • Architect: Bruner/Cott • Project Scope: concrete envelope repairs, replacement window system, building system upgrades • Structural Engineer: Foley and Buhl Engineering, Inc., Watertown, MA • Mechanical Engineer: Zade Associates, Boston, MA • CM: Shawmut Design & Construction, Boston, MA • Windows: Custom Window, Plymouth, MA

Josep Lluís Sert’s career was born in Barcelona where, after briefly working for Le Corbusier in Paris, he went on to found numerous influential artist groups influential in the growth of modern architecture. He was exiled to New York City during WWII where he worked on several urban planning schemes for cities in South America. From this experience, he became dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, initiating the world’s first urban design degree program. 

One of his trademarks, prominently found on the facade of Peabody Terrace, are wonderfully colored panels integrated into window systems. “They’re very romantic,” said Cott. “…and surprisingly brightly colored. You can open them up and let in fresh air.” The problem was that these panels were literally the only means to temperature control in the building. All of the dwelling units, despite various solar orientations, ran off one thermostat. Tenants had no control of their heat, often using  Sert’s operable panels to cool their overheating spaces in the winter months. The units were neither air tight or waterproof, further adding to the deterioration of the building.

“That was the extent to the sophistication of what I would call the most innovative housing project designed in the past 100 years,” said Cott. “It was the work of a genius, the way he [Sert] aggregated apartment units around stair cores and skip stop elevators […] an incredibly beautiful exterior without any regard to occupant comfort.”

Bruner/Cott approached the project in the 1990s as a preservation exercise, reconstructing the 500 interior units, repairing the concrete envelope, and designing an extensive replacement of Sert’s window system. Moss said that owners will typically just cover up the issues in these types of aged buildings. “That kind of recladding approach is going to become more and more endemic, but for good modern buildings it is a real problem. Often it skips the step of understanding and then working sympathetically with the original architecture.”

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Retrofitting Brutalism: Boston University Law Tower

[Note: Retrofitting Brutalism appears online in three articles, each highlighting a different project. You can find our second installment, the Peabody Terrace, here. The third installment on the Holyoke Center appears here.]

Stationed between Harvard University and MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bruner/Cott finds itself at arguably the epicenter of Brutalism—the Charles River where reinforced concrete towers thrived in the 1960s due to postwar campus expansion programs and the desire for an effect of stability and permanence among institutions. Bruner/Cott’s pioneering work with adaptive reuse in the 70s, along with extensive experience in managing the preservation of entire campuses of buildings—some nearly entire towns—has naturally led the firm to Boston University and Harvard University , where the architects find themselves reengaging the work of their former colleagues and teachers.

Technical complexities of renovating Brutalism bring forth a new set of preservation issues not seen in the restoration of 19th century clapboard buildings and limestone buildings—namely the cultural and tectonic baggage of exposed concrete. People often dislike concrete buildings. And concrete-formed structures are prone to sprawling and cracking since they are often reinforced and formed incorrectly. There is an art to concrete restoration that not only involves labor-intensive selective demolition, but also a precise pairing of aggregates to minimize the difference between old and new exposed finishes. “This is very fascinating work on a level that is very different than renovating a 19th century Victorian church. Modern architecture is of my time. We were around when modern architecture was new and innovative, and now we are renovating it. Its very interesting to see its faults and to be able to bring it back so it can continue for many years—hopefully many decades,” said Cott.

The following projects have much in common despite a range of nearly 20 years between completion dates. Their stories all stem from what Cott describes as a “downward spiral” of disinvestment—a familiar story that goes something like this: The building is not particularly liked by the public leading to a decline in its use, which triggers owners to stop taking care of it because of costly repairs. The building deteriorates, and its occupants hate it even more. Now demolition is on the table as a solution. The first question from these owners is often, “If we clear out the building, can we demolish it?” All of this effort is ironic for an architectural movement that made every aesthetic, formal, and structural attempt at erasure of a tumultuous past that included the Great Depression and two world wars. But Bruner/Cott sees its work as a respectful blend of preservation and correction of modernism’s faults, and “do the impossible” by making these buildings better than they ever were to begin with.

Boston University Law Tower

• Date of Retrofit: 2015 (original construction 1965) • Architect: Bruner/Cott • Project Scope: New Redstone building; total gut renovation of Tower and Pappas Library; facade restoration. • Consultants: Weidlinger Associates (structural); BR+A (mep/fp); Richard Burck Associates (landscape design); Colburn & Guyette (foodservice design); Acentech (acoustic, av); Atelier Ten (lighting); Haley & Aldrich (geotech); Nitsch Engineering (civil); Faithful & Gould (cost estimating) • Windows:  Graham Architectural Windows • Facade Installer: Sunrise Erectors

The project began with Bruner/Cott compiling a report that paired preservation principles with a development-minded approach. This became the blueprint for renovations to Sert’s Boston University Law Tower. Bruner/Cott’s message to BU’s administrators was simple and direct: “You are the stewards of an incredibly important piece of modern architecture.” In total, the architects added 100,000 square feet to Sert’s composition, which Cott said was already a generally well-defined and complete scheme. “The owners were smart enough to ask the question, ‘Can these buildings be saved?’ which is music to any architect’s ears.”

Bruner/Cott’s comprehensive renovations to the 265-foot-tall tower included building system upgrades that required the insertion of new vertical distribution chases through Sert’s concrete slabs, and a chilled-beam, passive cooling system. Building envelope repairs included the patching of more than 630 separate areas of concrete through a labor-intensive process involving sawing and chipping away at the structure to get behind reinforcement bars. New patches of concrete were carefully color matched to the existing concrete through a process of specifying matching aggregates to Sert’s original mix. The patched areas were bush hammered to match the existing finish. Cott said this method of renovation is invasive not only to the building, but its occupants: “If the owner thinks they can’t afford to move people out of the building, then all of that noise and vibration is something for the occupants to complain about.”

One of the major flaws of this building was the circulation system of the building, which relied on elevators to transport large crowds of students to elevated lecture halls in the tower. During classes, it would take 20 to 30 minutes to clear the room, which was disruptive to the academic schedule. Bruner/Cott reprogrammed the building, swapping in administration and faculty offices for the large occupancy areas, which have relocated to a new five-story 93,000-square-foot addition between the base of the tower and an adjacent library. “We made every effort to make the new construction part of the aesthetics of the original tower,” said Cott. “When you’re inside, you know the building has been renovated, but you don’t really know what is renovated and what is original.” The architects worked to maintain the historic character of the building intact through exposed, board-formed concrete finishes.

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Boston’s City Hall Plaza set to become year-round leisure zone

For decades, there have been plans to transform Boston's City Hall Plaza, the windswept concrete wasteland, or triumphant frame around an outstanding piece of Brutalist civic architecture, depending on your view. Now, the plaza is poised for a major makeover into a year-round leisure zone. Mayor Marty Walsh has prioritized the revitalization of the barren plaza with the launch of Rethink City Hall! Last summer, the city installed an Astroturf front lawn and solicited ideas for a redesign from Bostonians. Other plans called for an urban habitat with micro wind turbines and stormwater-collecting planters. The City has signed a three year contract with hospitality management company Delaware North (which also own TD Garden and New York's Rockefeller Center ice rink). Concept plans call for a 200-foot-tall, 42-gondolas Ferris wheel, a restaurant and beer gardens, a summertime beach, a winter garden with ice rinks, curling, and hot chocolate, as well as interactive public art installations, including a massive selfie-ready sign that spells out #BOSTON. The contract raises an all-important question: Who's paying for this? The City states that no public funds will go towards the project, although Delaware North is willing to invest more than $15 million dollars, on the expectation that it will recoup its investment in a revenue-sharing agreement with the City. Although free beer would be nice, some of the amenities will be fee-based. The proposals still need to be opened for public comment and city approval, The Boston Globe reports. To ensure the project's financial viability, Delaware North would like Boston to commit to a longer contract. The company is also seeking corporate partners to help pay for the project. Construction on the winter garden and a temporary restaurant is set to begin this October.
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Flux Factory revives a “threat to the motoring public” with the first Fung Wah Biennial

Remember the Fung Wah Bus? Posing an "imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk for its own drivers, passengers and for the motoring public," the Chinatown bus provided fast, dirt cheap service between New York and Boston before the company shuttered in 2015. Now, thanks to New York–based arts nonprofit Flux Factory, eager riders can re-live the experience: For three Saturdays in March, the arts group is commissioning 24 artists for the first Fung Wah Biennial. The daylong, site-specific exhibitions will take place on trips from New York to Baltimore, Boston, and Philadelphia, three of the most popular Chinatown bus routes. (Although Fung Wah ran buses on one route only, Flux uses "Fung Wah" as metonymy for the network of buses that ferries passengers from Chinatown to Chinatown in the northeastern U.S.) On the ride, artists will share sound installations, video projections, performances, and other pieces that "tease out the nuanced politics of transit." Commissioned pieces explore the loneliness, isolation, and fun of travel; travel and migration; and the history and infrastructure of Chinatown buses. Tickets, priced from $36.87 to $47.12, are a far reach from Fung Wah's $10 fares, but there's art! Most passengers will be ticketed Biennial-goers, although those just trying to get from point A to B are in for a real surprise. The idea for the biennial, curated By Sally Szwed, Matthias Borello, and Will Owen, arose from conversations around the high cost of living and studio space is forcing artists out to other cities; travel for leisure, work, or necessity; and a comment on the network of privately operated, affordable transportation between Chinatowns. Below are participating artists and their designated routes:

BOSTON: Marco Castro, Eric Doeringer, Fan Letters (Alex Nathanson + Dylan Neely), Sunita Prasad, Joshua Caleb Wiebley, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Kristoffer Ørum, Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

PHILADELPHIA: Michael Barraco, Chloë Bass, Adam Milner, Marjan Verstappen + Jessica Valentin, Meg Wiessner, Joshua Caleb Wiebley, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Kristoffer Ørum Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

BALTIMORE: Dillon De Give, Ursula Nistrup, Kristoffer Ørum, Ariel Abrahams + Rony Efrat, Fan Letters ( Alex Nathanson + Dylan Neely), Magali Duzant, Keith Hartwig + Daniel Newman, Seth Timothy Larson + Abigail Entsminger, Manuel Molina Martagon, Ruth Patir, Pines / Palms (Emily Ensminger + Sophie Trauberman), Kristoffer Ørum, Jonah Levy, Roopa Vasudevan, Tereza Szwanda

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Dante Ramos: Designing Boston: Northern Avenue Bridge

Recent coverage of the Northern Avenue Bridge's need for repair or replacement acknowledges the conflicting interests and complex interplay of costs and benefits associated with alternative visions for its future. Often lost in the discussion of its rusting structure is the important place it occupies in Boston's social and urban fabric. The bridge is a pivotal link in the Harborwalk, connecting downtown to the rapidly evolving South Boston waterfront. It is also the northern terminus of Fort Point Channel, whose potential was recognized in recent plans to turn Dorchester Avenue into Olympic Boulevard. Given its prominence, the bridge's noble structure could be restored, like the Longfellow's, as a reminder of the city's industrial past. Or it could be replaced with a daring new span like the Zakim's, energizing this critical crossing. Past and future could also be interwoven, to create our own version of Manhattan's High Line. There are two essential requirements for planning and implementing the best direction forward. The first is an inclusive—and conclusive—public process that allows alternatives to be proposed and evaluated. The second is a commitment to superb design so that bold forms and engaging spaces will bring this corner of the city to life. Together they will give Boston the Northern Avenue Bridge it deserves. To that end, please join this lively discussion. Moderator Dante Ramos, op-ed columnist, The Boston Globe About the Designing Boston Series This series provides a forum to discuss current trends and concerns in architecture and urban planning that may shape Boston’s future. Topics include designing for transportation, walkability, and climate change, and meeting housing demands of this growing city. Go to series page. This program is supported by the BSA Foundation. Image: Old Northern Ave Bridge, Boston. Credit: Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, creative commons license, modified.
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With proposed anti-jaywalking law, Massachusetts reignites debate over the right to the street

It's not surprising that Massachusetts, the state where happy hour is illegal, has found a new way to legislate away one of the city's greatest subversive small pleasures. For rushed urbanites especially, getting from place to place quickly on foot means crossing the street in the middle of the block. But State Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler has introduced legislation that would force pedestrians to adhere strictly to Cartesian space via stiff fines for jaywalking. This latest kerfuffle over the streets raises a question for inveterate jaywalkers and safety sticklers alike: What's so wrong with jaywalking, anyway? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWGEPZlbtX4 Massachusetts' current fine of $1, state officials claim, is hardly a deterrent to the common practice of crossing mid-block or against traffic. Chandler proposed a bill that would raise the fine for the initial offense to $25, $50 for the second, and $75 for the third jaywalk, The Boston Globe reports. (The standing law, enacted in 1962, imposes a $2 fine for the fourth offense and beyond.) The bill was motivated by recent pedestrian deaths in the Worcester Democrat's district. "It’s a bad habit we’ve all gotten into. And it’s changing a bad habit. And the best way to change a bad habit is to penalize it in some fashion," Chandler testified to the Transportation Committee. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AFn7MiJz_s Since the rise of the automobile, government has taken an active role in dissuading citizens from crossing the street in the middle of the block, as the (totally catchy) '60s PSA radio jingle explains. A jay, in early twentieth century parlance, was a rube, an unsophisticate. Calling someone a jay was a huge insult, as Adam Ruins Everything explains in the video above. Interestingly, although humans have had legs for far longer than cars, the term "jay driver" preceded jaywalker. Before the first crosswalk was installed in 1911, cars, pedestrians, carriages, and streetcars had equal right to the street. Cars were viewed as menaces, and cars driven recklessly by so-called jay drivers were seen as a threat to the balance of chaos and control that kept the streets usable for all. Citizens were justified in reviling drivers: By the end of the 1920s, automobile accidents had killed more than 250,000 people. As with the streetcar phase-out, the interests of the automobile-owning capitalist class prevailed over the public's right to the street. The auto industry lobbied to make cars the prima donnas of the street, a mode of travel that deserved special protections from annoying pedestrians, especially. The American Automobile Association (AAA) spearheaded school safety campaigns, warning boys and girls of the dangers of jaywalking. In a few short years, the threat of cars to people was superseded in public discourse by the threat of people to cars: by the 1930s, most municipalities had enacted laws agains jaywalking. These days, the jaywalking crackdown is not limited to Massachusetts. In 1998, New York City got tough on jaywalking, jacking up fines from $2 to $50. Under de Blasio, those fines went up to a maximum of $250. As with the enforcement of "quality of life crimes" like loitering and public drinking, jaywalking citations are primarily foisted on poor people of color. As the Massachusetts legislature debates this bill, it's worth re-engaging the old debate: is jaywalking a really crime, or is it just criminalized?
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Hopkins Architects moves forward with revamp of Sert’s Holyoke Center at Harvard

British firm Hopkins Architects (formerly Michael Hopkins & Partners) has been granted planning permission from local authorities to build the new Smith Campus Center for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hopkins was selected for the project back in 2013, but plans are now becoming clear with new renderings of the project. Included in the plan are shopping areas, cafes, and student exhibition areas. These areas will look out onto the open space laid out in front of the building, while sitting alongside and sheltering the study spaces inside. Such a scheme creates a defined hierarchy within the structure. Outdoor social space is separated from the quieter, more formal areas of study via the threshold of shopping, cafe, exhibition spaces, and reception area. The plan will become part of the Josep Lluis Sert's 1960s design for the Holyoke Center. Joining onto the exterior facade (as seen in the pictures) will be a steel structure, clad mainly in glass with softwood and concrete interior. After being appointed to the project in 2013, Hopkins Architects' vision for the Smith Campus was formed after asking students, faculty and staff about what they thought the campus should be. An exhaustive study into this comprised public meetings, over 25 focus groups, and almost 6,000 responses to University-wide survey. “One of our key design objectives was to ensure that the building engages the vibrancy of all of Harvard Square,” said Tanya Iatridis, senior director of University planning, speaking to the Harvard Gazette. “The new Smith Campus Center will embody the aspirations and values that we hold dear and seek to preserve. It will draw us together more closely, strengthening the sense of community at Harvard by encouraging spontaneous interactions among students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the broader community,” Harvard President Drew Faust told the Harvard Gazette. “While plans are not yet final, and we have more feedback to gather, we are all pleased with the project’s direction and progress.” Joining Hopkins will be U.K.-based firms, Arup on the engineering team and  Faithful + Gould as project management consultants. It won't be an all British show however, as U.S. practice Bruner/Cott will be executive architect and Cambridge firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates will serve as landscape architect. The project is expected to break ground later in 2016 with the new campus expected to open in 2018.
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Benjamin Prosky Named Executive Director of AIA New York

The AIA New York has named Architizer co-founder and minority owner Benjamin Prosky as its new Executive Director. He will step away from his role as Assistant Dean for Communications at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Prosky has been overseeing events, publications, multimedia content and special projects since 2011. He will begin his duties at the AIA in early 2016. “It is a tremendous honor to serve as Executive Director of the AIANY and the Center for Architecture,” Prosky said in a statement. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to expand the scope of both organizations—I look forward to engaging with the professional architects who are the backbone of the constituency, and also cultivating the broader public which, in the context of New York, recognizes the profound impact that design and the built environment have on the vitality of the city and all aspects of our lives."
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Here’s the plan to turn Boston’s Fenway Park into an enormous wintertime ski jump

Architects designing ski jumps is one of our favorite typologies, as the megastructure meets the athletic show to produce some of the most Nike-swoosh-like structures out there. Boston is going to get a new mutation of the type when a huge, 140-foot ski jump will be installed on the baseball field, in the shadow of The Green Monster. Actually, it will tower over the Green Monster by 100 feet, as well as the entire structure of Fenway. We have seen all kinds of things on fields, like Bon Jovi concerts and Monster truck rallies, but the huge snow-covered structure is one of our favorites. What is yours?
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Harvard experiments with new science and engineering facilities designed by Behnisch Architekten

Harvard University has submitted plans by Behnisch Architekten with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for a six story, 500,000-square-foot science and engineering complex on its Allston campus. Stuttgart- and Boston-based Behnisch Architekten is designing new laboratories, classroom space, research facilities, and retail space for the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The home of the Earthwatch Institute, at 114 Western Avenue, will also be renovated by the architects. The design responds to the layout of Harvard Yard, a "human scale" network of communal space. Like most of Behnisch Architekten's projects, the structure will capitalize on ecological principles: natural ventilation, renewable energy from geothermal and wind, roof gardens, and heat recovery and retention. In a statement, Matt Noblett, partner at Behnisch Architekten, explained the synergistic aspects of his firm's design: “The design of the Science and Engineering Complex project pulls together a number of threads of contemporary life certain to influence coming generations: the engineering enterprise as a decisive influence in the discovery and resolution of some of the world’s most intractable problems; cross-disciplinary efforts as critical to major research initiatives; and genuine leadership in the area of sustainable design and urban development.”
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Boston considers supply-and-demand logic to price parking in prime areas

Boston-area drivers spend too much time stuck in traffic. To combat congestion in the city center, Boston city officials may follow San Francisco's move to improve traffic flow by charging more for parking at peak times. Donald Shoup, former professor of planning at UCLA, is famous for arguing that, at any given time, about one-third of drivers on city streets are looking for parking. His disciples at the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority created SFpark, a congestion control model that puts Shoup's ideas into practice in the form of surge pricing for on-street parking (see the full report here). Shoupistas in Boston may follow suit. Inexpensive parking makes it easier for drivers to leave their cars parked for longer periods of time. Other drivers hunting for parking cause gridlock and delays. Following SFpark, Boston will introduce parking prices tied to peak traffic in select downtown locations. Mayor Walsh commented that, in addition to applying market logic to parking, the move may spur more drivers to opt instead for mass transit. Currently, $0.25 buys you 12 minutes of parking at most meters in Boston, regardless of the day or time. Officials haven't decided on how high the meters will go, but in San Francisco, peak parking costs up to $7.00 per hour. To prepare for a pilot program, Boston officials will study the proposal's impact on Fenway, Back Bay, and other downtown neighborhoods. The peak pricing initiative is part of an overall effort to modernize parking infrastructure and reduce gridlock downtown. Approximately 8,000 older meters are being replaced with new meters that accept credit cards and can be programmed to accommodate surge pricing. In turn, the city can create "parking zones" where certain blocks in high demand zones are priced higher than less desirable blocks. To fight gridlock, Mayor Walsh pointed to surveillance at intersections that will identify motorists who "block the box," as well as those who double park. When reprogramming traffic, it is often a challenge to balance the needs of motorists with the needs of everyone else. In addition to Boston, Cleveland, DC, and Denver are working on innovate ways to alleviate congestion to make healthier streets for all.
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The White House is up for auction—or at least an old piece of it

Here's your chance to own a piece—a very small piece—of the actual White House. No large lobbyist pockets required. A relic from the presidential mansion will go up for auction at a live event later this month. The piece is an architectural ornament from the main hall of 1817 that President Madison rebuild after an 1814 fire. The wooden ornamental plinth was actually removed from the White House in 1902 during Theodore Roosevelt's renovation. It's part of an architectural ensemble forming the trim around a doorway and was used as a base, sitting at the bottom of the frame. Measuring approximately 14 x 30 x 4 inches, it was constructed using a pine base with pine moldings, cast composition ornaments, and hand-forged nails. In addition, it has 17 layers of paint of which three are gold leaf. From this evidence one can assume the that White House was repainted for each president, thus allowing the plinth to be representative of 17 terms of U.S. presidency. The auction will be hosted by RR in Boston later this month on Monday, September 28 at 1:00 PM EST.