Posts tagged with "Boston":

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Re-Imagining the Urban Experience at Boston’s Downtown Crossing

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.
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Beantown Rising: Big Development On the Horizon In Boston

For Bostonians, cranes and scaffolding have become a common fixture in the city’s landscape. In recent years, there’s been a slew of new developments cropping up everywhere from Roxbury to Fenway, with the bulk of construction concentrated in South Boston’s waterfront, and more specifically in a sub-section that Mayor Thomas M. Menino has dubbed the “Innovation District.” AN has compiled a list of some of the most high profile projects happening in the city. South Boston Waterfront Construction of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ headquarters at Fan Pier is well on its way. Mayor Menino “topped off” the first building this summer, which will be part of a 1.1-million-square-foot development that includes offices, biomedical research laboratories, retail, restaurant spaces, residential units, a hotel, a park, and a marina. Local architecture firms Elkus Manfredi Architects and Tsoi/Kobus & Associates have designed the two towers, slated for completion in 2013 and 2014. Vertex will be leasing the towers for $1.1 billion, which according to Pharmaceutical-Technology.com, is the largest commercial lease in Boston. Across the street from Fan Pier, the $5.5 million Boston Innovation Center, designed by Hacin + Associates, is now under construction. This 12,000-square-foot facility will offer a space for companies to hold meetings and host events, including a restaurant with a test kitchen. The Center is part of Mayor Menino’s vision to turn this part of the city into the Innovation District. There’s been little development on Pier 4 to date, but that's about to change with a new mega complex (aptly called Pier 4) that will kick off with the construction of a 21-story, residential tower. This 9.5-acre mixed-use project, designed by ADD Inc, will consist of a hotel, retail, residential, office, and civic uses. In a story in Boston.com, Casey Ross calls attention to the fate of Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant—the waterfront institution that will soon be replaced by parkland. The strange plot twist in the story is that Anthony Athanas, the late restaurant owner, had once advocated for a mixed-use development on Pier 4 in the 1980s, but lost the property in a dispute with his former development partner.  In an effort to boost Boston’s ranking as one of the top five cities in North America for conventions, the city has approved a $2 billion master plan to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to accommodate several new hotels, retail and commercial space, and a grass-covered rooftop park. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) issued an RFP for a developer to build and finance the project. While the development is still in its infancy, the MCCA has taken steps towards the expansion with its purchase of six acres of land adjacent to the Center, which they envision will be used for two mid-priced hotels. A spokesman for the MCCA told AN: "We need to build up the number of hotels before we expand the actual convention center." Another 1,000-room "headquarters" hotel is also in the long-term plan. The Boston firm ADD Inc, along with Atlanta-based firm tvsdesign, have drawn up the renderings of the expansion, but no architect of record has been hired yet for the project. Fenway Just when developer John Rosenthal might have thought he was out of the woods, overcoming recent legal hurdles, and ready to move forward with his $450 million Fenway Center Development, he faces yet another roadblock. But this time, as the Boston Globe reports, the conflict is with the state over a long-term lease for the project. If a deal can't be reached, Rosenthal might lose his investor. The plan is to build a mixed-use complex, designed by Carlos Zapata Studio/DHK Architects, over Massachusetts Turnpike, which includes 500 residences, retail and commercial space, and a commuter rail station. Our friends at Curbed reported that the five buildings are supposed to be powered by solar panels. Downtown Crossing When department store Filene's Basement shut its doors, it left a void in downtown Boston. But, it didn't take long for developers to set their sights on this former department store and the surrounding area. As AN reported on Friday, developer Millennium Partners took over the project and hired Handel Architects to renovate the 1912 building by Daniel Burnham and turn into office and retail space. The next phase of the project will be the Millennium Tower, a 625-foot mixed-use tower, which is expected to be the tallest residential building in Boston once it is complete. More views of projects described above:
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New Balance to Build Commuter Rail Station as Part of Boston Headquarters Expansion

It has been five decades since there has been a commuter rail station in Brighton, but this will soon change. MassDOT Secretary Richard A. Davey and New Balance Chairman James S. Davis announced this summer that they will build a new Worcester Line commuter station, and just a few days ago, the sports apparel company gave word that it is slated to open in 2014. The station, New Brighton Landing, will be part of New Balance’s $500 million development complex that will serve as the company’s headquarters and also include a hotel, a sports facility, retail space, and parking. Elkus Manfredi Architects and Howard/Stein Hudson Associates will design the 250,000-sq-ft headquarters. In June,  MassDOT said that New Balance has agreed to "fund all permitting, design, and construction costs for the station and fund annual maintenance costs" for the $16 million New Brighton Landing station.
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An Award Winning Recyclable Ribbon of Celebration

ENfold Pavilion, a new temporary landscape installation designed by Perkins + Will in Boston’s Evans Way Park, utilizes natural reusable materials as its base and steers clear of harmful environmental impacts in both its construction and placement. The installation, which was chosen for Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Design Award prior to being realized, celebrates the recent designation of Boston’s Fenway as Boston’s first state-wide cultural district The permeable light catching ribbon is made of garden bed-liner fabric and is held in place by an invisible network of stainless steel cables. Its organic free-flowing form mimes the grace and movement of the expanse of tree branches above and is loosely woven between their trunks. ENfold’s spatial layout delineates a natural framework for park-goers and creates a natural "stage" for musical performances and other art happenings. The 500 foot long semi-translucent fabric loops its way throughout the entire park echoing wind and light along its way. The fabric will be recycled and used for the Boston Parks Department’s 2013 growing season.

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Tea Time Pavilion Made From 250,000 Plastic Coffee Stirrers

Rarely do red plastic coffee stirrers conjure notions of Walden Pond, but for architect Brian Ripel and artist Jean Shin, the notion is not that far fetched. The duo's Tea House rooftop installation at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts sits about a mile from Thoreau's retreat. Ripel pointed out that the connection is somewhat difficult to discern in isolation, but the gabled pavilion frames pristine views absent of any evidence that the museum sits a mere twelve miles from downtown Boston. While the project took two years to conceive and engineer, construction took only three months. The thatch-like canopy is made up of 12 by 24 inch shingles of stirrers sewn together with an industrial sewing machine. Approximately 250,000 stirrers make up the shaggy shelter. The aluminum frame mimics the gables of nearby rooftops and re-purposed lumber was used for the tea bar and seating plinth. Visitors will be served free tea and the discarded teabags will be used in the second component of the exhibition that opens in the fall. The teabags will form hanging chain models for an installation called Retreat that will remain on view through the end of the year.
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QUICK CLICKS> Bike Lite, Convenient Cities, London Smog, Choco-design

Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night.  The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action. Convenient Cities. What makes a city "convenient"? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity.  Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top. Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu'Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu'Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes' performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
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Atlantic Wharf Rain Curtain: Bluworld

Fabrikator Brought to you by: 

An 80-foot waterfall highlights the atrium of a new mixed-use development in Boston.

Atlantic Wharf is one of the newest additions to Boston’s changing downtown waterfront area. Located on the edge of Fort Point Channel, the one million-square-foot mixed-use center incorporates a series of restored and renovated structures built there more than 100 years ago. Beneath a new 31-story office tower, an 80-foot-high glass atrium encloses the original 19th-century street grid, creating a grand entrance to the tower from Congress Street. As a nod to the site’s history and Boston Harbor views, the building’s translucent glass screen wall is designed with a canted top resembling a sail. Working with developer Boston Properties, architect Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc. envisioned another nod to the site’s maritime past in the atrium. Custom water feature design and fabrication company Bluworld was brought on board to create a feature that would span the height and width of the space.
  • Fabricator Bluworld
  • Designers Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc., Bluworld
  • Location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Status Complete
  • Materials Mylar, water, stainless steel
  • Process Custom water feature integration
The atrium’s size was the primary challenge. “The client wanted something to go as high as it possibly could,” said Rob Morton, Bluworld’s director of sales. “A rain curtain gives you that freedom because it doesn’t have a bulky frame or heavy glass panels,” which add significantly to cost, maintenance, and structural concerts. The team determined they would install three rain curtains spaced across nearly 50 feet, each one falling the full 80-foot atrium height. The company has extensive experience building rain curtains—a design in which water streams down Mylar strands arranged in various configurations—but this was the tallest they had designed by 20 feet. Morton believes it is the tallest such design in the world. Bluworld began by building the mechanical equipment that would carry water to weirs, or reservoirs, suspended above each rain curtain. The team located an atrium similar to that of the Wharf’s in another Boston building and installed a test reservoir, spending about a week making adjustments to the types of pumping and filtration equipment necessary to handle the rain curtain’s height. Once the final pump and filtration equipment had been manufactured in Bluworld’s Orlando facilities, it was crated and shipped to Atlantic Wharf. The team welded the curtain’s upper weirs directly to the atrium’s structural steel canopy; no additional structural reinforcement was needed. A below-grade mechanical space houses the rain curtain’s equipment as well as its “brains,” a patented control called a Blubox. The touchscreen panel operates the water feature’s maintenance; each week its timer shuts off the flow of water before draining, filtering, flushing, and refilling the weirs. Nearly invisible 1/8-inch-diameter Mylar strands suspended from each overhead reservoir give the feature its curtain-like quality. They create enough surface tension for individual droplets released from the reservoir to travel the full drop to the atrium floor. As the droplets bead together or fall in spurts, the sheet of water takes on an infinitely random series of patterns. Streams are collected in three lower concrete troughs lines with stainless steel reservoirs filled with river stones. A video of the completed installation is available here.
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Brutalism On the Small Screen

Quick! Name that Building! That's right, it's time for another round of our favorite game. You can probably name the architect, thanks to the ribbons of his signature corduroy concrete, to say nothing of the cantilevered passageways and swooping staircases. So it's Paul Rudolph. But which of his masterworks? It's not a famous one, so you'll probably never guess. Okay, you got it. It's the Hurley Building of his Government Service Center in Boston. It's an impressive star turn for an architect whose buildings haven't faired so well of late. And yet it's good to know that when those Madison Avenue Fatcats still need a structure to shoot on that screams hip futurism, Rudolph's the go-to guy. Dude's still got it.
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The Green Schools Are Coming, The Green Schools. . .

So we've got schools with green roofs sprouting in D.C., Manhattan, the Bronx, and who knows where else across this fine country of ours. (If you've got more, email us, we'd love to hear about them.) Not content simply with the mantle of "country's oldest public school," Boston Latin has decided to add a green roof as well. Designed by Studio G Architects, this one's a whopper, covering 50,000 square feet with areas dedicated to growing crops for the cafeteria and providing lab space for science classes. At that size, maybe they could even find some room up there for some mini golf or a tennis court. More renderings and details after the jump. From the school:
The oldest public school in the nation, Boston Latin’s green roof is significant in that it was conceived by a group of students who, after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, formed BLS YouthCAN (Climate Action Network), lobbied BLS administration to implement the green roof concept idea, participated in the development of designs, and are spearheading fundraising efforts for the $5 million project. Studio G Architects of Boston was so impressed by the energy and commitment of the students that they donated design services for the project. The roof’s numerous program areas will create a variety of new learning opportunities for BLS students and schools across Massachusetts. State-of-the-art STEM (science, technology, math & engineering) labs form the backbone of the design, enabling students to observe and measure data related to the school’s environmental technology, like calculating the amount of energy being generated by the PVs or the wind velocity of the turbines. A cafeteria garden, greenhouse and orchard demonstrate the accessibility of fresh local produce and help encourage healthy eating habits. A contemplative garden offers a space for repose or for language, art and music classes. Besides the inherent sustainability of training urban kids to be good stewards of the environment, the green roof will lower BLS’ carbon emissions through its planted microclimates, while PVs and turbines will offset its energy consumption. These diverse programming opportunities have inspired an entirely new sustainability curriculum, which is being piloted at BLS this fall and will be available to the other 17 YouthCAN chapters throughout Massachusetts, thereby extending the impact of this revolutionary program space to students beyond BLS.
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Could Low-E Windows Melt Your Neighbors?

Every rose has its thorn, including those supposed holy grails of sustainable products. CFLs contain mercury. Biofuel competes with farmers for topsoil. Now high performance windows, particularly those of the double-pane, Low-E variety, have become the bane of suburbia, as they can apparently melt your neighbors home—or at least their vinyl siding. That was the news from a surprising report on Boston's Channel 5 news, sent to us by Infared New England, who tests for these sorts of things. It turns out that under the right circumstances, the windows work as magnifiers, focusing light on nearby buildings like a rascally child picking off ants. At least two area women have suffered the consequences, and there are plenty of similar videos on YouTube. So let this be a warning to you about the risks of vinyl siding next time you consider using it on a project. (Okay, let's be honest, if you're reading this, god forbid such a thought ever crossed your mind. Still, it's pretty crazy, the unintended consequences of this business of ours. Eh, Frank?)
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Boston Arch Taking Off?

UPDATE: Yanni Tsipis, a Chiofaro critic, counters: "In addition to the 625 foot limit on the Harbor Garage site, which was to be expected, note that [Massport flight paths] would also allow a 900 foot building in the middle of the Boston Common or a 1,000 foot building in the middle of the historic Back Bay brownstone district... certainly doesn't mean any of these would be a good idea!" Ever since the Boston Redevelopment Authority finalized its study setting heights along the post-Big Dig Rose Kennedy Greenway, the fate of developer Don Chiofaro's Boston Arch has been very much in question. The city is recommending no more than two towers rising to 200 feet on the site, saying it will cast shadows on the politically sensitive park. This did not prevent Chiofaro from presenting his own claims earlier in the month that the 40-story office and 59-story residential towers designed by KPF that he wants to build will have no negative impacts, that the claims are overblown. Now, Massport, which oversees Logan airport, certified its earlier pronouncement that the project could not exceed 625 feet, a concession Chiofaro has already made by excising a skyframe—the nominal Arch—from the project. While flight paths and shadows have nothing to do with each other, the hard charging developer will no doubt use this latest vote as one in his favor.

Last Stand for Chiofaro?

Last Monday, we published a story on Boston finalizing its plans for the future development of the Greenway. In it, we made small mention of developer Don Chiofaro and his Boston Arch project. This was for a few reasons. First, we wanted to focus on the Greenway study as a whole, and its dozens of development sites, and not just one of them. Second, Chiofaro, as the video above shows, is a story unto himself. Or many stories. Most, in fact, as he has turned the study into a referendum on his project and not one about the future of Boston's newest, if still slightly bedraggled park. That said, allow us to make up for our previous paucity with a lengthy look at where Chiofaro's project stands, or, uh, doesn't. As we mentioned, this is pretty much become the focus of the Greenway study, what happens on this one tiny lot, though what happens there is very important. As it was explained to us by Tim Love, one of the study's creators, this is the marquee spot on the Greenway—a prime location next to the water, a delicate one that could easily block out the sun, a garage no one wants, but two very tall towers no one is necessarily in love with, either. On Sunday, the Globe gave a very thorough accounting of the problems facing his project, why he's been duped, why this is personal. Chiofaro questions the study as a hit job, and some people seem to believe him. This creates a bad situation for everyone because it has actually managed to call the study's validity into question, something that we heard time in again in reporting our story was not the case. By making this personal, Chiofaro could unbalance the entire Greenway, and not simply with his own building. Which creates an ever-greater quandary for the BRA because the more it relents, the more it invalidates its hard work. Development is all about precedents. Today, the Herald sheds some new light on what may really be the problem here, as is often the case in development and politics, the matter of a simple misunderstanding. Chiofaro's colleauge Ted Oatis tells the tabloid, “We presented conceptual tower designs from 400 to north of 700 feet and they were very well received.” It's a line not unlike one from a Globe editorial on May 1:
After all, Chiofaro bought the Boston Harbor Garage for $153 million in 2007, while it carried an official height restriction of 150 feet. He hoped to build a skyscraper more than four times that height, and believed he had received some encouragement from Menino’s Boston Redevelopment Authority. But the BRA is, indeed, a labyrinth, and Chiofaro’s request for a large variance got clogged up in the system — perhaps, Chiofaro suspects, because of Menino’s personal objection.
And yet Oatis is telling the Herald they'd gotten tentative approval two years earlier. This was around the time the mayor was kicking around ideas for an 80-story tower by Renzo Piano, an icon he was very much in support of (even if it did demolish a notable building by Paul Rudolph). The fact of the matter remains, times change, as do circumstances, but Chiofaro refuses to accept that. One local observer recently told us that Chiofaro wants to give the mayor the icon he seems to desire, though that also happens to be the exact opposite goal of the highly contextual planning study that has been developed for the Greenway. Having learned the lessons of the small-by-comparison 120 Kingston, a 300-story project that caught a lot of flack on the way to being approved, the city has realized that the stakes are simply too high along the greenway to allow much in the way of tall buildings to be built where they don't, as at least some see it, belong. It appears, then, that Don Chiofaro, like so many others during the recession, may be forced to take a hair cut—if not to his pocket book than at least to his building.