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.”
Posts tagged with "Boston Redevelopment Authority":
Boston launches a sustainable housing initiative with net-zero energy townhomes.As anyone who has come into contact with Red Sox Nation knows, Bostonians tend not to believe in half measures. A case in point is the city's E+ Green Building Program, a joint initiative of the Office of Environment & Energy Services, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Designed to demonstrate the feasibility of building net-zero energy, multi-unit housing in an urban context, the program made its built debut in 2013 with 226-232 Highland Street, a development consisting of four three-bedroom townhomes in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. The building achieved substantial energy savings on a tight budget in part through a highly insulated facade constructed from conventional materials. "The envelope is key," explained Interface Studio Architects (ISA) principal Brian Phillips. "We design many super high performance projects and we believe strongly in the quality of the envelope as the starting point." ISA became involved in the project at the invitation of developer Urbanica, who had seen their 100K Houses, a high performance housing prototype designed to be constructed at less than $100 per square foot. One of three winners of the E+ Green Building Program's developer design competition, the Urbanica-ISA team crafted the townhomes with a dual awareness of the project's immediate surroundings and efficiency goals. "We're always interested in observing and measuring the context in order to create our design approach," said Phillips. "The materials and shapes of the Roxbury neighborhood inspired our design—as well as the requirements of creating a super high performance building." For instance, he describes the facade's most distinctive feature, a recessed vertical stack of windows, as "a riff on the prevailing bay window typology." The architects' material choices "were motivated by aesthetics, affordability, and recycled content," said Phillips. The primary facade material, prefinished fiber cement lap siding, is common to the neighborhood's existing residential fabric. Each attached house features an interlocking pattern of grey-blue and cedar-textured siding, for contrast, while the reverse bay windows are wrapped in dark grey metal panels. Double-stud walls, blown in insulation, and super tight doors and windows reduce thermal gain to a bare minimum. Thanks to its high performance envelope, energy-generating rooftop photovoltaic panels, and integrated user-feedback system, 226-232 Highland met the E+ Green Building Program's concrete goals, earning LEED Platinum for Homes certification and HERS Index scores between -11 and -15. Even during the unusually cold winter of 2013-2014, the Boston Redevelopment Authority reported, the project recorded energy positive days. But the townhomes also fulfilled the less tangible component of the city's mission, as a demonstration that sustainable housing can be built simply and for a reasonable price. "Green development is no longer just the big high-rises and large projects downtown," said Boston Redevelopment Authority deputy director Prataap Patrose at an event celebrating the building's LEED Platinum certification. "It's happening here. It's happening in our neighborhoods."
The city of Boston is laying the ground work to grow and simplify the process for urban farming throughout the city. Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) are introducing an amendment, Article 89, to the current zoning that would create opportunity for expanded urban agriculture activities such as rooftop farming and opening farm stands and markets. Beginning in May, the Mayor's office along with BRA launched a series of 11 neighborhood meetings to discuss Draft Article 89 with the public. This amendment change is part of the city's larger Pilot Urban Agriculture Rezoning Project that was initially started in 2010: A group of farming experts and advocates were selected to participate in the Mayor's Urban Agriculture Working Group to provide insight that helped inform a number of the recommendations included in Draft Article 89. This amendment tackles a range of urban agriculture issues from soil safety and rooftop and vertical agriculture to hydroponics and the care of animals and bees. Boston.com reported that the new zoning would allow for 1-acre ground-level farms in any neighborhood throughout the city, and then permit farms larger than one-acre in areas specifically zoned for industrial use. The amendment would also make it significantly easier for Bostonians to start a ground-level farm by requiring a special permit instead of mandating a public review process. According to the BRA's website, the Mayor's Office and collaborating partners are hoping that this ambitious initiative will "increase access to affordable and healthy food, particularly for underserved communities" and "promote economic opportunity and greater self-sufficiency for people in need, including increasing the capacity of Boston residents and business and grow and distribute local and healthy food."
While rooftop farming has cropped up in a number of cities across the country, it has yet to take root in Boston. But this will soon change when founders Courtney Hennessey and John Stoddard launch operations of their new rooftop farm, aptly called Higher Ground Farm, located atop the Boston Design Center this Spring. According to CoLab Radio at MIT, the duo will start planting on a 40,000-square-feet segment of the expansive 55,000-square-feet roof within the next few months and be ready to sell the fresh produce by summer. The farm is coming at just the right time—the city is making a real push to encourage more urban farming. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) has introduced Article 89, an urban agriculture zoning initiative that will “establish an environment in which all of our citizens—particularly the most underserved—have direct access to locally produced fresh food, the ability to produce food for themselves, and access to education and knowledge about healthy eating.” Hennessey and Stoddard have made a dent in their fundraising efforts through kickstarter and fundraisers, but still need more money to get the farm completely off the ground. They hope to secure more capital to reach their $300,000 goal with the help of loans and grants.
Condos and retail developments aren’t the only changes coming to Boston’s Downtown Crossing. Cambridge-based landscape architecture firm Klopfer Martin Design Group (KMDG) has been selected by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to design the streetscape plan for Boston’s Downtown Crossing Business Improvement District (BID). In response to an RFP to design the Streetscape Design Standards & Wayfaring Program, BRA received 11 proposals and decided to move forward with KMDG’s program. The long-term plan will consist of recommendations for sidewalk and roadway materials, a pedestrian zone, and vending and wayfinding programs. In its proposal, KMDG outlined its main objectives to “recast the crossing as a public, open space” and “connect the connections.” According to the BRA, construction is slated to be completed in late May.