Posts tagged with "Boston":

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$1 billion redevelopment plan could remake the downtown of Somerville, Massachusetts

In Somerville, Massachusetts, a $1 billion redevelopment scheme in the city's Union Square neighborhood is edging closer to happening after Somerville's Board of Alderman waved through a rezoning plan. The 9–1 vote in favor of the plan last week was the result of three years of planning done by a special development team with the community. The 2.3 million-square-foot Union Square project, if fully approved, will bring 1.3 million square feet of new offices and civic facilities to the area as well as just over 100,000 square feet of public space. Twenty percent of the housing units built will be for families earning a low income, meanwhile, authorities estimate the scheme will see 5,000 permanent new jobs come to the area. Plans for a Green Line extension for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) are also in the works. The $2.3 billion project would link Union Square with the adjoining neighborhoods as well as the city of Boston, making Union Square the downtown of Somerville. “Union Square’s proximity to Kendall Square, MIT, and Harvard—one the densest innovation centers in the world—makes it poised for the next wave of economic growth,” said Greg Karczewski, president of Union Square Station Associates (US2), a development team built specifically for the Union Square Redevelopment Project. “We’re bringing 2.3 million square feet of new mixed-use, transit-oriented development to one of the hottest real estate markets.” For the Green Line extension to happen, US2 is providing $5.5 million in the form of a public benefits contribution and around 950 residences, all of which will supposedly result in new property tax growth. Now that the rezoning has been approved, US2 will present a development plan for Union Square to the community in the next few months. Jennifer Park, a resident of Union Square who has long been tracking the project, welcomes the development but is skeptical of what the final result will be. "They're really changing the look of Union Square. At community meetings there were lots of drawings of high buildings, but also lots of green space," she told The Architect's Newspaper. "As a resident and condo owner, I am happy that my property's value is going up." Park, though, also stressed that the feel of Union Square—with its diverse culture of ethnic restaurants and wide range of activities—should be preserved. "We do not want this to be like Kendall Square where the commercial development is dead at night. I am glad there is development here, but just so long as the community supports that development," Park added. The current schedule has construction starting in 2018 and the new Green Line station open and operational by 2021. The plan in full can be read here.
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OMA unveils sliced design for Boston Seaport

OMA's New York office has unveiled renderings for a 490,000-square-foot mixed-use retail and office project in Boston—OMA's first in the city. The project will be located in the Boston Seaport and is being backed by Massachusetts-based WS Development. The developer has coalesced around a number of esteemed firms, notably Sasaki, NADAAA, and James Corner Field Operations as the firm looks to invest in the area, plotting a wider 1.3 million-square-foot scheme. Officially known by its address at 88 Seaport, the project is set to offer a series of cascading terraces that form part of a dramatic, angled slice through the structure about a third of the way up. This cut-through transcends down from a mid-level balcony through the building towards the street corner, with its angularity encouraging views up and into the cantilevered structure. 88 Seaport is also orientated toward Boston's Fan Pier Green and the water’s edge, and while its windows are recessed, the render depicts floor-to-ceiling fenestration which will maximize views out. The building will rise to 18 floors and provide almost 425,000 square feet of office space. Meanwhile, 60,000 square feet will be designated for retail on the first two levels. Finally, 5,000 square feet will be allocated for civic and cultural use. Shohei Shigematsu, a partner at OMA who spearheads the firm's New York office, said in a press release that "[it’s] exciting to engage with the innovation migration to the Seaport District, and work with WS Development on a building positioned to be the nexus between historic Fort Point and the emerging waterfront developments. Our design for 88 Seaport slices the building into two volumes, creating distinct responses for each urban scale of old and new, while also accommodating diverse office typologies for diverse industries with demands for traditional and alternative floorplates. The slice also generates an opportunity to draw in the district’s public domains, linking the waterfront and Fan Pier Green with a continuous landscape." The project is expected to break ground next year with completion planned for 2020.
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SsD designs luminous, open interiors for Boston locations of Clover Food Lab

Cambridge, Massachusetts–based vegetarian fast food chain, Clover Food Lab, opened two new Boston locations last July by architecture firm SsD. The design of the locations, Boston Financial District and Longwood Medical and Academic Area, uses boundaries and light to emphasize Clover’s mission to promote transparency, simplicity, and community in the food industry.

“The boundary between ‘kitchen’ and the ‘customer’ is dissolved, allowing visual communication between the spaces while reflecting and multiplying light,” said architect Jinhee Park on the firm’s website. The space is open and bright, with simple finishes and bold signage, aiding in the layout’s legibility for customers.

Light fixtures are designed as art pieces, fulfilling their practical purpose while adding visual interest. A large wooden table, milled from a log, snakes through the space to add a warm natural touch to the minimalist design and provide an opportunity for communal dining experiences.

The new Financial District location is considered the brand’s Boston flagship location, able to seat 88 customers in the 2,300-square-foot space, plenty of room for the lunch rush.

Clover Food Lab 360 Longwood Avenue 160 Federal Street, Boston Architect: SsD

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David Manfredi on how democratic design principles shaped New Balance’s new headquarters

"Everybody values the opportunity to connect, it's changing the way we think about space," says David Manfredi, who is a co-founder of the Boston-based firm Elkus Manfredi Architects. His firm completed the New Balance headquarters, also in Boston, in 2015 and Manfredi this week spoke to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), discussing how democratic design principles such as openness and connectivity shape his approach to architecture.  When the owner of New Balance, Jim Davis, hired Elkus Manfredi Architects to design the shoe company's headquarters, he told the architects to visit an old textile mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts and report what they saw. There, David Manfredi encountered a four story high, 600-foot-long riverside former mill, now occupied by New Balance, who uses it as a factory. "It’s beautiful classic New England building," Manfredi told AN. (A short video on the building can be found below).  "We found this incredible work environment that was designed for all these people to sit at their machines," he continued. "What I really saw was that everything that we strive for in the modern workplace. [Jim Davis] wanted us to see the quality of the space, the high ceilings… and how open and collaborative the whole space was." The experience aligned with Manfredi's design ethos. At New Balance's headquarters, 650 people occupy the building yet there are only four private offices. "The historic traditional world of workspaces was related to stature. The boss’s room with a view, that’s all gone. We work now in environments where we now value connections to other people and not square footage," Manfredi argued. In addition to a new headquarters, Davis also wanted a new health and wellness district including offices, dwellings, wellness facilities and a world-class training center. "It's not just about making a building, it’s about creating a 360-degree environment," said Manfredi. The architect applied the same principles to address Davis' demands. Wellness (a topic that was featured in AN's recent print issue), openness, and connectivity all require the careful articulation of light, among other things. Apertures and openings, particularly in facade design, were crucial to these elements being successful. "We had to create a whole series of destinations, making sidewalks with uses that engage pedestrians, such as shops and usable open space where kids want to play."

"Our approach was that we wanted to be open, but this doesn't mean sprawling out with unnecessary surface parking," Manfredi added. "That way of thinking is in the past. Collaborating has changed, we achieve progress when connected, not in private. This is also a place for the next generation. Because of technology, we share everything online now—even my kids do it! My children and others won’t change when they get in the work workplace, they will expect to work in this environment of open innovation."

For this to happen, Manfredi argued that he had to "treat as much as the environment as publicly accessible, not trying to privatize, but instead to be democratic, so that spaces stay active past common hours of usage." An example of this can be seen with the Boston Warrior Ice Arena, where transparency facilitates a legible typological reading of the building. "How often to see an ice arena that has 40 feet of glass?" asked Manfredi. 

David Manfredi will be speaking at the upcoming Facades+ conference this June. There, he will discuss this project and others in greater detail. To find out more about the Facades+ Boston conference and register, visit facadesplus.com. Seating is limited.

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A quick and user-friendly glazing comfort tool

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Boston-based Payette recently unveiled a publicly available web-based tool that allows designers to evaluate glazing design and performance with respect to occupant thermal comfort. This Glazing and Winter Comfort Tool, developed by an in-house team of building scientists and designers, received an honorable mention at AIA's recent TAP/CAA (Technology in Practice) Innovation Awards.
  • Architects Payette
  • Team Involved Alejandra Menchaca, PhD, LEED AP – Senior Building Scientist / Associate; Lynn Petermann, AIA, LEED AP – Associate; Vera Baranova – Designer; Christopher Mackey – Building Scientist
  • Awards 2016 AIA TAP (Technology in Architectural Practice) Innovation
  • Location web-based
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Envelope performance tool
  • Topics Practice-based Research;  Academic; Applied Technology Development
The project comes at a time of increased interest in facade transparency, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort. Alejandra Menchaca, senior building scientist / associate at Payette and lead researcher on the project, said the project was initiated as a response to the challenges of quantifying how glazing performance and geometry will affect the need for supplemental perimeter heating early in the design process. "What if the design team could understand, as early as schematics, which facade properties negatively or positively impact occupant comfort? What if there was a way to avoid the use of perimeter heat by selecting the right glazing geometry and performance?" To achieve this goal, the project team modeled the tool after existing scientific research, and the firm's experience with high-performance building design. The result is a simple interface that educates the design community on thermal discomfort during wintertime. The tool produces graphic charts and diagrams based on user-controlled variables such as facade geometry, glazing performance, target interior conditions. It also allows design concepts to be further optimized through advanced options that take into account specific details such as R-value of the facade walls, exterior air speed, and even the insulating value of occupants clothing. This array of variables can be saved as a “case” option and compared with two other configurations for analysis. Beyond this level of interactive design analysis, the tool educates designers on types of thermal discomfort among building occupants and provides links to further reference information. The tool was released in coordination with a firm-wide R&D showcase, which Payette described as a “behind-the-scenes” look at research and development processes and outcomes of our findings. In addition to their Winter Glazing and Comfort tool, the office shared models produced through their fabrication lab, advances in virtual reality, and additional building science research. Payette's office shared testimonials from design professionals testing out the tool during their showcase. "This helps me understand the trade-offs with fenestration quantity, configuration, glass lay-up (and ultimately, cost of the fenestration) with comfort for the occupants of the building," an engineer testing the tool said. "The graphic output is quickly understandable and conveys the important results to decision makers who may be unfamiliar with much of the conceptual underpinning but recognize that comfort is key to occupant satisfaction. Having this tool available imposes quantitative rigor on comfort, which combined with quantitative daylighting analysis leads to a rational basis for fenestration design.” The publicly accessible tool can be accessed on Payette's website here.
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New glass pavilion housing a Sephora opens next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Elkus Manfredi Architects' shiny new Sephora has claimed a coveted corner of the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace, adding yet another style of architecture to downtown Boston. The 5,670-square-foot store sits on a triangular site in the northern corner of the marketplace along North Street, across from Boston’s Brutalist City Hall (1968) and facing the Greek Revival–styled Quincy Market (1826). The small glass pavilion’s transparency stands in stark contrast to the brick and concrete structures that surround it. With its fluid form and free flowing metal roof system, the project is unmistakably contemporary. “We feel that this 21st century transparent building not only highlights Sephora’s brand image, but allows the nearby historic 18th century Faneuil Hall and 19th century Quincy Market landmark buildings to shine,” said Howard Elkus, founding principal of Elkus Manfredi Architects, in a press release. The new store is part of a larger master plan proposed by Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (AAC), which is striving to refresh the market and introduce more accessible programming to downtown Boston. The proposal met some controversy at first, as tenants feared they would be outbid by national chains and the market would lose the eclectic shopping for which it has become known. AAC explained that their hope is to provide new reasons for visitors to come to the market and not to rid if of its historic charm. “We are excited about the arrival of Sephora as it fills a void in the retail scene in downtown Boston,” said Joe O’Malley, general manager of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, in a press release. “Sephora brings a new type of consumer to the marketplace, one of many new initiatives in the near future.” As the master plan continues to transform the Marketplace, AAC aims to strike a balance between local businesses and national brands like Sephora and Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing brand who opened their Boston flagship store in Quincy Market in 2015. They hope this curated mix will help make Faneuil Hall Marketplace a year-round destination for tourists and locals alike.
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A five-acre redevelopment of Boston’s Bulfinch Triangle will replace a much-maligned concrete garage

At the crossover where six neighborhoods come together in Boston is… a parking garage. Boasting 2,300 spaces spread among nine stories, the concrete monolith, officially referred to as the “Government Center Garage,” is a byproduct of 1960s planning and rests on a 4.8-acre site known as Bulfinch Triangle. Vehicular dreams, however, have never quite been realized. The garage has only reached capacity twice: Once for a Rolling Stones gig and another time during a major snowstorm in 1978.

“This part of the city is not as dependent on automobiles as everybody imagined it would be,” said Kishore Varanasi, principal and director of urban design at Boston-based CBT Architects. The firm is working with the HYM Investment Group to redevelop the area. Fellow CBT principal David Nagahiro added that today approximately 1,200 cars use the garage on a daily basis.

Echoing their 1960s predecessors, CBT and HYM have big, transit-oriented plans for the site. De-emphasizing the automobile, the $2 billion “Bulfinch Crossing” master plan involves the creation of a new public square and pedestrian promenade linking Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the Market District along Congress Street through to Canal Street. Space to store 850 bicycles (a city requirement) will be included as will a Hubway station for Boston’s bike-sharing program and direct connections to Zipcar, the MBTA bus service, the Green and Orange subway lines, and the North Station commuter rail service.

CBT’s $2 billion master plan was approved in 2013, and a year ago the city gave the green light to two of the tallest structures in the development: New Haven firm Pelli Clarke Pelli’s One Congress office tower at 528 feet and a 480-foot residential tower from CBT Architects.

All in all, Bulfinch Crossing will see 812 residential units, 1.2 million square feet of offices, a 200-key hotel, and 85,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurant space added to the area; 1,150 parking spaces will also be available. The mixed-use development will be the first to include significant housing in the urban renewal district and demonstrates a refresh of downtown typologies by creating slender towers with a reduced footprint.

“Much of the design challenge has been to design the space so that it has eight different desire lines—both visual and physical—that run through the site,” said Varanasi. In plan, Bulfinch Crossing doesn’t look like a typical plot of grid-divided land primed for development. Instead, a variety of shapes work to facilitate these desire lines and natural circulation through the site.

The scheme will be completed in phases. “Nobody needed convincing that this garage has to go away,” said Nagahiro, who added that despite this sentiment, the garage couldn’t simply be knocked down. Even though the facility is only at half-capacity, its daily use is a valuable source of income to the city and, as a result, will be taken down incrementally to sustain city revenue. However, the garage will remain open for business throughout the redevelopment.

Reconfiguring the garage for operation during construction is due to be completed this spring. Construction of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s tower is

slated to begin as early as 2018 and the site pad for CBT's 480-foot residential tower is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion in summer 2020. Further construction deadlines are yet to be finalized because they are predominantly market-driven, however, Varanasi speculated that the garage should be in its final stage by 2023. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
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This Boston research facility is one of the first U.S. projects to employ large format GFRC fins and panels

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Situated along Boston's Commonwealth Avenue, the Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering (CILSE) promises to bring a state-of-the-art research facility to the front door of Boston University's campus. The 170,000-square-foot nine-story building will serve faculty from schools and departments throughout BU's expansive neuroscience community, along with other universities in the Boston area. In a press release, BU issued the statement: "For decades, some of the most exciting research at Boston University has been unfolding in a row of buildings hidden on Cummington Mall, designed originally for making carriages instead of studying the life sciences." The university anticipates this new prominent location will "encourage the kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary research that will be the hallmark of 21st-century science." When complete, CILSE will be one of the first projects in the U.S. to employ large-format, glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) fins and panels. Under the design leadership of Boston-based architecture firm Payette, these products are being manufactured by Rieder Smart Elements GmbH, under their FibreC product line, and are being erected by Ipswich Bay Glass. Peter Vieira, associate principal at Payette, says there are two types of architecture on BU's campus: Perimeter buildings are influenced by a "red brick" style derived from the neighborhood character of Back Bay's Victorian brownstone homes. Meanwhile, the campus core follows a tradition established by early designers on the university's campus, namely Ralph Cram, who introduced a heavy limestone-clad deco-gothic aesthetic in the 1940s. Others followed Cram's lead: The Josep Lluis Sert School of Law—a 265-foot exposed concrete tower —was constructed in 1965 and recently renovated by Bruner/Cott. CILSE cleverly follows this "buff limestone" tradition by integrating a lightweight concrete materiality into a curtain wall system, nodding to history while maintaining the benefits of transparent glass. The mid-rise block features a half-inch-thick GFRC material installed in two applications. Fins to the north and west—where the building overlooks campus and public space—and panels to the south and east in coordination with internal programmatic spaces that are more specialized and private.
  • Facade Manufacturer Rieder Smart Elements GmbH (GFRC fins & panels)
  • Architects Payette
  • Facade Installer Ipswich Bay Glass
  • Facade Consultants Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2017 (projected)
  • System curtain wall on structural steel
  • Products Rieder ‘fibreC’ GFRC panels
The fins are four inches wide and set along a vertical spacing that varies across the facade, especially where the system approaches and rounds the corner. The fins project 14 inches from the curtain wall facade; their continuously formed U-shaped channels are pre-supported from a custom pre-assembled knife plate anchor developed by Ipswich Bay Glass. "The material became very interesting... because it is only a half-inch thick it can be bent, formed, and folded. It can be both a fin and a panel. One material used in two very different ways," Vieira said. Despite a minimal thickness, the GFRC panels can be worked when wet, prior to fully curing, enabling them to be folded into complex forms. At CILSE, the fins were manufactured from a precast panel, which was folded by hand (by three to four people at Rieder) to obtain a unique radiused profile. "While the technology exists to create sharp right-angle bends in the concrete (the favored approach for European applications), these channels were deliberately formed around a pronounced eight-millimeter radius, a detail selected to highlight the material’s thinness and plasticity." Furthermore, the material was available in a range of standard colors and textures, producing an aesthetic that is highly compatible to BU's buff limestone context. Notching of the fins occurs at the floor plates (14 feet floor-to-floor). These 16-inch reveals are a compositional strategy producing what Vieira calls a "deliberate effect." The cuts form shifting patterns, where "the play of the vertical rhythm of the fins, coupled with a periodic subtractive massing, produces a surface pattern that changes quite dramatically." As an added bonus, the notches reveal the GFRC's material thickness, especially at ground level where the length of the cut is exaggerated. “The building has a particular size and a particular massing. Devising a way to use this material that feels very much like a BU building—a Boston building— and produced in a way that engages the public. Not in an overt way, but in a very subtle nuanced way over and over again. This material can be formed and bent and expressed in a way creates a very contemporary building. It ties the building back to a tradition of building on campus that is going to be very unexpected and refreshing," Vieira said. CILSE broke ground in May 2015, with an expected completion date of spring 2017. The facility will house the Center for Systems Neuroscience, the Biological Design Center, the Center for Sensory Communication and Neuroengineering Technology, and a Cognitive Neuroimaging Center with a 3 Tesla fMRI—a fundamental tool for studying the brain’s trillions of neural connections and how they relate to human behavior.
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Mayor Walsh releases top-shelf urbanism reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030

The City of Boston has put together a rigorous, Boston-centric reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030, the city's first full-scale plan since the 1960s. If urban planner heaven is a bookshelf, it might live here. As Imagine Boston 2030 creates a plan to preserve and grow the city, the readings (12 for adults adults and 8 for children three-plus) ground Boston's cultures and social history in a distinctly American urban framework of prosperity and poverty; integration and isolation; weak policy and smart growth. The reading list grew from conversations between staff at the Mayor Marty Walsh's office on books and thinkers that shaped their understanding of Boston. After some lively debate, they developed a list of books to share with the public. The books—which range from Cities 101 classics like Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Robert Caro's The Power Brokerto Boston-based fiction (Rishi Reddi's Karma and Other Stories) and nonfiction (J. Anthony Lukas's Pulitzer Prize–winning Common Ground), and praiseworthy new titles like Matthew Desmond's Evictedwill be available at all Boston Public Library branches. But that's not the end of the story. The city is asking its citizens to vote on three more books that should be added to the list. The suggested titles explore similar themes to illuminate the urban experience, but are more international than the core 12. Up for consideration: Alan Grostephan's Bogotá, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, among others. Check out the full list below and follow the project @ImagineBoston @BPLBoston and with the tags #ImagineBoston  #IB2030bookworm. Adult reading list: Evicted by Matthew Desmond The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development by Mel King The Given Day by Dennis Lehane Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald The Power Broker by Robert Caro Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong by Judith Rodin Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio by Mario Luis Small Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz Youth reading list: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge What’s the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston by Stephen Krensky Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald Beneath the Streets of Boston by Joe McKendry On the Loose in Boston (Find the Animals) by Sage Stossel
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Gensler releases renderings of GE’s new Boston HQ

  Fresh images of General Electric's new Boston headquarters have surfaced, courtesy of GE and architecture firm Gensler, which is based in San Francisco but has an office in Boston. Earlier this year General Electric (GE) announced they would be leaving their Fairfield, Connecticut headquarters, which they originally moved to in 1974. A new location was chosen in Fort Point on the Boston waterfront. GE will remodel two historic brick structures on the site and build a new 12 story building. The company says their new site—which will accommodate 800 employees—will encourage public employees to commute by public transportation, biking, and walking. According to Bldup, only 30 new parking spaces will be constructed on site as part of an underground garage. GE's new location, which they describe as a "campus," will include a public coffee shop, restaurant, and 1.5 acre public outdoor space. Among its other sustainable features are a rooftop solar system and vegetated roof areas. GE isn't the only major corporation to move into an urban center this year. McDonalds recently announced that they would move their headquarters from the suburb of Oak Brook to Downtown Chicago. Kraft made a similar move after their merger with Heinz. Companies who once deliberately moved out to expansive suburban campuses are finding new financial and logistical incentives to return to cities. Cities are also more attractive than suburbs to the younger generation of workers, whom GE is actively courting. According to a press release the campus will include a "Maker Space" for tech startups as well as university and high school students. The move is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2016 with employees relocating to a temporary Boston location. Their Fairfield campus will be sold, along with their offices in the building at 30 Rockefeller Center that once bore its name. This, along with incentives from the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, will offset the moving and construction costs. The company expects the move in to be completed by the end of 2018.
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New exhibition at BSA Space explores playground design

Now on view at BSA Space is an exhibition and accompanying education program that focuses on playgrounds around the world. Dubbed Extraordinary Playscapes, it will run until September 5, 2016 and was curated by Design Museum Boston. On display are drawings, sketches, videos, scale models, and playable installations featuring 40 international playgrounds. Examples of contemporary architect-designed playgrounds in the U.S. abound: in April, the Rockwell Group–designed Imagination Playground (featured in Extraordinary Playscapes) opened in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Similarly, in December the renovated Adventure Playground in Central Park, designed by Richard Dattner, also opened. These two playgrounds provide the opportunity for “unstructured play,” a growing trend in playgrounds. Some of the designs featured in the exhibition include: Wild Walk in Tupper Lake, New York, designed by Chip Reay; PlayForm7 in Singapore, designed by Playworld Inc; Esplanade Playspace in Boston, designed by Halvorson Design Partnership; Takino Rainbow Nest in Takino, Japan, designed by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam; Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; and Ambulance Playground at Beit CURE Hospital in Malawi, Africa, designed by Super Local. You can read more about Extraordinary Playscapes here.
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Developer Richard Askin talks facades and resilience in Boston

Richard Askin, Director of Planning and Design at W/S Development Associates, has had his eye on Boston's burgeoning Seaport District for about a decade. During that time—as Askin's firm planned and initiated construction on a multi-block mixed-use development called Seaport Square—the local AEC industry has increasingly focused on designing for resiliency. The chief concerns in the low-lying Seaport District are rising sea levels and severe storms. "Because we started before Superstorm Sandy, before there was the remapping of the flood plain, I've seen us go from not understanding what we should want to do, to more proactively coming up with design solutions for the risks that are instigated by floods and/or sea level rise," said Askin, who will participate in a presentation block on "The Seaport District Reconsidered" at Facades+AM Boston June 17.  
Increased awareness around rising water levels dovetails with W/S Associates' traditional area of expertise: retail. Both involve a focus on the ground plane. "We've done a host of things that have to do with both occupancy and infrastructure" in response to the need for more resilient designs, explained Askin. One example has to do with the buildings' electrical transformers. These are typically positioned on the ground floor and covered by a utilitarian facade. The result is both vulnerable to damage during a flood and aesthetically displeasing. "It essentially becomes a blank wall, and typically very large," said Askin. "The problem for us is that retail wants to be at the ground floor—it's in direct conflict with conventional placement of the transformer." Askin relishes the ways in which the attention to resiliency in the Seaport District has stretched his own approach to a development problem. "I've never had to figure out these micro-level details before, to invent ways of doing things on the facade that's not conventional," he said. Learn more about the Seaport District and other Boston-area development hotspots at Facades+AM Boston. To learn more or register for one of the few remaining seats, visit the symposium website.