Posts tagged with "Boston":

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Trouble for Chiofaro?

A double whammy came last week for Boston developer Don Chiofaro's Boston Arch project, which we first wrote about last month. On Thursday, The Boston Business Journal ran a story suggesting Chiofaro was stuffing the BRA's mailbox with letters supportive of his KPF-designed project, while the following day it reported that the aquarium the project was meant to improve feared for the worst. The letters are part of the redevelopment authorities public comment period, and among them was one from the president of the Boston Aquarium who wrote that, according to the Journal, "the project threatens the long-term viability of the Aquarium." As we noted in our June report, officials at Massport were concerned about undue impacts on Logan flight paths, something Chiofaro told us was being addressed. But maybe note, as the Journal turned up the following comment in a Massport letter:
“Massport strongly supports the continued economic development of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” the letter stated. “However, as owner and operator of one of the Commonwealth’s most critical transportation infrastructure assets, Massport cannot condone and urges you to help prevent any degradation of the airspace surrounding Boston-Logan by tall structures proposed as part of this project.”
Chiofaro did not comment for the story, but what he had been doing was far more intriguing:
In total, there were 381 letters and postcards submitted in support of the Harbor Garage project, compared with the 252 letters opposed to the project. [...] Of the 266 postcards in favor of the 1.5 million square foot mixed-use project, 144 were signed by people who do not live in Boston, according to the BRA.
Then again, most of those letter opposing the project came from residents of the neighboring Harbor Towers apartment buildings, who obviously have a stake in the project not going forward. Looks like it's up to the BRA on this one, though if that is any indication, Chiofaro may just be out of luck.
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Straight and Narrow at the Globe

This past week, the Boston Globe's editorial page has been enthralled with the Greenway and Don Chiofaro's proposed Boston Arch thereon. (We'd like to think they were inspired by us.) It began with an editorial criticizing the Boston Redevelopment Authority's apparent foot-dragging on its Greenway development study, followed by an encapsulation of the comments from said editorial--many in favor of the project--and now an op-ed calling for greater density on the Greenway. While the Globe's editorial board is welcome to its opinions, it should not be as disingenuous as the power brokers it attempts to lampoon. Let's start with last Monday's editorial. As soon as we saw it, red flags went up. Should Mayor Thomas Menino have begun the study years ago, as the board asserts? Yes, of course. But now that it is finally underway, there is no reason to rush it, especially to the benefit of a certain developer working nearby. We spoke with some people involved with the development study, and they actually said it is moving faster than normal. Furthermore, from what we heard, the developer was asked to wait for the completion of the study before certifying his project with the city. Obviously, Chiofaro had no interest in waiting. Partly this is because he is old school, as they say, a former Harvard linebacker, among other things. Another issue, as argues today's op-ed--which calls for no restrictions but good design--is that the BRA would likely set a height well below the nearly 800-feet Chiofaro is seeking. Indeed, of the six plans put forward for the garage site by the BRA's planners, Greenberg and utile, heights ranged from 125 feet to two towers of 400 feet, something that could become sacrosanct once the plan is adopted. So why not wait until the final plan is put forth before passing judgment? Why call for a rushed plan with limited inhibitions? Is this editorial outcry really about elections and transparency? Or is it about shilling for a connected Boston developer?
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The Apple Store Falls Far In Georgetown

While it is relatively old news that Apple (and ur-designers BCJ's) efforts to build a new Apple Store in Georgetown are being foiled by a group of local preservationists--I first stumbled upon it on Apple Insider while reading reports from MacWorld--it was a Bloomberg report in today's ArchNewsNow (h/t) that really got me thinking about the reality of such a store and just how it might take shape. When I read that "Apple’s architects, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, proposed building a store with an all-glass front at street level, topped by a slab of masonry with an Apple logo cut through it," I was rather surprised by the proposal. After all, one need look no further than Apple's three Manhattan stores to see a thorough going commitment to historic preservation and adaptive reuse. Apple's first, and most sensitive, venture in the city was the 2002 conversion (as always, by BCJ) of a sumptuous 1920s post-office in perhaps our most chicly historic neighborhood into an intensely sleek and yet extremely demure flagship. Despite all the straight lines and polished glass inside, the exterior of Apple Soho remains almost untouched, a respectful gesture to the cast iron beauties that surround it. While its--much ballyhooed--24-hour sibling on 5th Avenue has a decidedly more modern look, so does its surroundings, at the foot of the GM Building. Not to mention that, as MAS president Kent Barwick once told us, the new store resurrected an otherwise insufferable plaza. And while slightly more ostentatious than the Soho store (and really, isn't the entire Meatpacking District?), Apple's latest store on 14th Street still manages to adeptly combine a classic concrete loft building with a glassy electronics outlet. Why, then, would Apple make such a radical proposal for such a buttoned up community as Georgetown? Again, the Bloomberg article provides some interesting clues:
It’s not the first time Cupertino, California-based Apple was asked to revamp the design of one of its stores. Three years ago, a Boston architectural commission reviewing the glass façade that Apple proposed for a local store said the design “didn’t have a sense of place” in the neighborhood. Apple amended the design and worked with the Boston Redevelopment Authority to make sure the store--noteworthy for a giant wall of glass--fit in with the area. The Boston shop opened last year.
You can see the Boston store here, in The Wall Street Journal's brief account of the Apple Georgetown affair. Just looking at it, the Boston store is a far more modern proposal than its historical cousins in New York. Back in Georgetown, the local board that has so far denied the designs is obviously not opposed to a store being located on the premises. Not only is that section of Wisconsin Avenue essentially an outdoor mall, but the building was previously occupied by a French Connection boutique. The only explanation, then, is the old preservationist saw that the developer and architect have put forward an outlandish proposal they have no intention of actually building so that when the actual design comes up for review, it looks rosy by comparison. Now where have we heard that before?