Boston’s subway system—the "T"—is currently undergoing its first expansion in nearly three decades, pushing the city's Green Line into the hip enclave of Somerville. And while the first stations in neighboring Somerville won’t open until 2017 (at the earliest), the promise of new transit is already transforming the city’s real estate market. The streetscape is coming next. Lisa Drapkin, a realtor in the city, told the Boston Globe, “If someone asks me how the market is doing in Somerville, I say you could put a cardboard outhouse near a [planned] Green Line stop and there’d be a bidding war.” With the first station still years away, prospective buyers and investors are snatching up property before prices spike. According to a report by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, cited by the Globe, property values near new stations could increase 16 to 25 percent over the next 20 years. Over the same time, average rent could jump 67 percent. This, of course, has many residents and politicians worrying that new Green Line stations will mean rampant gentrification. To that end, the city plans to build 1,200 affordable housing units by 2030, or 20 percent of their new stock. Of course, that could do very little to keep rent down overall. But Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone is optimistic that new transit options will help lower-income citizens connect to jobs, education and healthcare opportunities. “We don’t want to lose our soul," he told the paper. "We want that creative, original, diverse, that sort of funky, freaky mix of who we are.” When the new Somerville stations open, 85 percent of residents will be able to walk to the train, up from just 15 percent today. And the extension is expected to increase ridership by 45,000, and take 25,000 cars off the road. The Green Line Extension will also lay down a string of new architecture through the city as each new street-level station has a unique style and form. While none are as distinct as, say, Calatrava's New York City stegosaurus, they incorporate much more design than the standard-issue American transit depot. A little farther south in the Boston area, New Balance is building a commuter rail station as part of their new $500 million complex. A look at some of the new stations via Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership.
Posts tagged with "Boston":
Rights of Way: Mobility and the City BSA Space 290 Congress Street, Suite 200 Boston Through May 26 Rights of Way: Mobility and the City examines transportation and mobility in the global city through dozens of examples of how the city is shaped by the ways people move through it. Curated by James Graham and Meredith Miller of architecture studio MILLIGRAM-office, the exhibition seeks to demonstrate that our urban environment is a result of a complicated set of negotiations between designers, policy makers, the private sector, and individual residents. The show proclaims that each resident of the metropolis has a right to mobility and access to opportunity within the urban area while showing how those public rights are often at play in the shared commons of any given city. The exhibition examines large-scale urban futures, contemporary examples of innovative design for transit and public space, historical attempts at remaking the city, and individual adaptations of mobility systems. Rights of Way also includes three projects from the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award, focusing on three mega-regions: the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong Province; São Paulo, Brazil; and the Boston–Washington, D.C. (BosWash) Corridor. Displays include renderings, drawings, photography, videos, infographics, and a media library that allows visitors to delve further into the issues raised by the exhibition content.
After a continuous 36-hour concrete pour last weekend, Boston’s Millennium Tower is ready to rise above the city skyline. The day-and-a-half-long pour of 6,000 cubic yards for the Handel Architects–designed project is being called a “record concrete pour” by local press—and it probably is, at least in terms of hours spent pouring. But if you crunch the numbers, as AN did, the pour in Beantown reveals that the tower’s concrete took its sweet, sweet time to flow. We’ll explain. In February, a pour for the Wilshire Grand tower in Los Angeles set three times as much concrete—21,200 cubic yards—in just 18 hours. That’s twice the velocity of the Millennium Tower flow—or in Boston parlance, that’s wicked fast! And that pour was quite literally a record breaker, it won the Guinness World Record for "largest continuous concrete pour." Hour-by-hour, the Wilshire Grand beat the Millennium Tower with 1,178 cubic yards of concrete poured to just 166. The slow pour is not entirely surprising for the project, which has been pretty slow moving in its own right since the start. When the project is finally complete in 2016, it will be 625-feet tall, making it the tallest residential tower in the city.
A translucent polycarbonate skin transforms an early-19th century Massachusetts home.On a well-traveled street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about halfway between Harvard University and MIT, sits a house not like its neighbors. Its simple massing and pitched roof indicate old bones. But its skin is all 21st century. The house, recently renovated by Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant, is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels that reveal the structural and insulating layers beneath. For the architects, the project was an experiment in applying a cladding system designed for large-scale projects to a single-family home. “We thought this could be a possible test-bed for something more standard, something that could at least be thought of as a standard way of renovating and improving a typical American detached house,” said di Robilant. “This house is very small, but we’re now trying to fit it toward possible standardization of this approach.” When Armando and di Robilant first visited the house, its facade was in bad shape. Disintegrating wood topped by a layer of metal siding (from a 1960s update) failed to protect the home from Cambridge’s snowy winters and hot summers. The architects peeled away the old materials and thickened the facade’s profile, beginning with a layer of rigid Thermax insulating panels. Around this they built an external skeleton of TimberStrand with Parallam columns, to shore up the house’s structural system. To the timber frame they attached 40-millimeter polycarbonate panels by Rodeca. The Rodeca panels further insulate the house and offer UV protection, but they are transparent enough to provide a glimpse of what lies beneath. “The insulation panels are not directly exposed to the air, but you can see them from the outside,” said Armando. “You can see all the layers, this was one of the main features we expected to achieve, to reveal all the exterior coloring of the house.” The air gap between the inner and outer layers of insulation further boosts the home’s thermal performance, as it funnels hot air up and out before it reaches the interior. The most eye-catching feature of the renovation is a pair of floor-to-ceiling windows at the northeast corner of the house. Armando and di Robilant encased these in custom mahogany frames, then attached sliding aluminum shutters fabricated by Wisconsin contractors Bertram Corporation to the exterior of the house. The shutters are easy to slide manually along tracks attached to the house’s structural frame. Oversize wheels at the base of each shutter roll along the concrete base at the front of the house. “We made these big wheels to evoke something like a toy, a childish object,” said Armando. The slats of the shutters are spaced far apart near the top of each window to allow daylight to penetrate, and closer together near the bottom, to maximize privacy. In order to accommodate the shutters’ upper rails, Armando and di Robilant drilled holes in the adjacent Rodeca panels. The customization worked: the architects seamlessly integrated the window and panel systems without sacrificing watertightness. “The Rodeca system was born mostly thinking of big facades,” observed di Robilant. “It had been used in a number of cases with more surfaces. Here I think we tested, and I think this test was quite successful, the limits of Rodeca in terms of what is the minimum surface which is still okay for this system.” The architects analogize the facade system to a Russian samovar, or hot water boiler. Like a samovar, with its nested heating element and partly hidden hot-water pipe, the house’s facade reveals its own organizing principle to the knowing eye. “The idea was really to show the anatomy of the skin,” said di Robilant. “We focused our attention on the big window, but it’s also very much about the facade, and the discourse of the metaphor—the samovar.”
[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted response to a recent article, "Softening Boston’s City Hall." It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN03_03.05.2014. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ] With regard to the proposed landscape interventions in Boston’s City Hall Plaza: This welcome news brings to mind the Illustrative Site Plan prepared by our firm in 1961 (above) to accompany the Government Center Urban Renewal Plan. As our drawing shows, we envisioned the space between Tremont Street and the new City Hall not as a paved plaza but as a quiet lawn crossed by footpaths and populated by deciduous trees, in the tradition of a New England town green. As we imagined it, this was to be the last in a series of green spaces stretching from Commonwealth Avenue to the Public Garden to the Common to the Burial Ground and thence to Government Center. Had this concept been realized, the resulting open space might have been more inviting to casual use and less vulnerable to the charge of having promised a celebratory urbanity that it could not deliver. In any case, the current effort to bring the Plaza to life through strategically placed bosques of trees is commendable. Henry N. Cobb Pei Cobb Freed & Partners New York
A list of over 100 cities has been whittled down to six. PeopleForBikes has announced the latest cities that will be the focus of the 2014 iteration of the Green Lane Project, an initiative that promotes urban bike infrastructure. The decision means that beginning in April, Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Seattle will all be on the receiving end of expert assistance, training and support in efforts to become increasingly bike-friendly. The project's director Martha Roskowski said that all the selected cities demonstrated "ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities." Pittsburgh and Seattle's inclusion comes as each takes steps towards establishing bike share programs within their borders. Boston is already in possession of such a system. A major focus of the Green Lane initiative is to increase the number of protected bike lanes, and Seattle, Indianapolis, and Atlanta are already in possession of lanes included in PeopleForBikes' Best Of List for 2013. Since the program was launched in 2012, the number of such lanes within the US has nearly doubled, rising from 80 to 142. Half of this growth can be found in the Green Lane Project's six original focus cities: Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. [Via Streetsblog USA.]
Boston is well known for both its thriving biotech industry and for its high concentration of universities, and now the city's two largest economic sectors are overlapping with several academic institutions shrewdly expanding their science departments. Northeastern University is one of several schools to hop on this bandwagon. The school just announced that it will build a 180,000-square-foot academic facility, called the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB). Boston-based firm Payette won the commission to design the six-story building along with adjoining green spaces after participating in a six week design competition. The site of the building sits on the opposite side of Northeastern's main campus, severed by several rail lines. Payette has proposed constructing what they've dubbed "The Arc," a curved pedestrian bridge, that provides access between the new building and Huntington Avenue, which will also serve as a direct connection between Fenway and Roxbury. A number of landscaped paths and open "tributaries" will link the two separate neighborhoods. The ISEB will house four academic research departments: engineering, health sciences, basic sciences, and computer sciences. According to the firm, the "building massing has been organized in two main volumes; an east facing laboratory bar and a west facing office form wrapped around a central open atrium." The facility will be divided into offices, staff workstations, conference rooms, cafes, and laboratories dedicated to each academic research study. The building features a glazed curtain wall that will "be wrapped with an outer skin of fixed solar shading responding to the building orientation." This $225 million project is the first component of Northeastern's larger plan to create 600,000 square feet of space for academic research and to accommodate the university's plan to add 300 faculty positions.
From Los Angeles to Chicago, city governments across the nation have been following San Francisco’s early lead and popping up parklets on their streets, mini sidewalk-side public parks for rest, small group gatherings, and people watching. This summer, Boston joined in on the trend, installing its first parklet in Mission Hill in September and another in Jamaica Plain at Hyde Square. While these spaces have seen success in other cities, the Boston Globe reported that the Boston parklets have shown disappointing usage during what should have been their prime season. Although no scientific surveys have been collected, observations from nearby business owners, community members, and the Globe staff have indicated that these new whimsical spaces in Boston are not seeing much traffic. Boston Transportation Department planning director Vineet Gupta admitted that the city government was expecting a lot more of a parklet embrace from the community, but assured that the low usage during this fall’s debut is only a side effect of the newness of the streetscape change. Each parklet cost around $15,000 to $25,000. “This is true for parklets; it’s true for bike lanes; it’s true for bus lanes—it’s true for any innovation in the transportation world,” Gupta told the Globe. “Initially, you don’t see the kind of use that one would hope, but things pick up.” However, Boston officials are now wondering whether they should go back to the drawing board on the design and placement of these small public spaces. In San Francisco, a parklet’s success often depends on the community’s need for public seating and the site’s distance from a full-scale park or public plaza. In Chicago, some parklets have been planted with water retaining vegetation and installed in flood zones, creating a dual community benefit. Even elsewhere in Massachusetts, a Lexington parklet was first created as a bike corral to gauge public opinion. Gupta commented that the Transportation Department plans to conduct official public surveys next year for solutions to increase Boston parklet popularity. “In many instances from around the country, it’s a little bit of a learning process, and each location is unique,” he said. “We’re learning and we’re going to make modifications if necessary.”
Harvard’s Holyoke Center, designed by renowned Catalan architect and former Dean on the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Josep Lluís Sert, will soon be undergoing major renovations, university President Drew Faust announced last Thursday. London-based Hopkins Architects, the designers of Princeton’s Frick Chemistry Laboratory and Yale’s Kroon Hall, have signed on to transform the 50-year-old, cast-in-place administrative building into multifaceted campus center by 2018. The 360,000-square-foot, H-shaped structure, completed in 1966, represents both the first high-rise building in the area as well as the beginning of Harvard’s adoption of Modern architecture. Behind its complex, Corbusian facade of concrete fins, colored bands, and seemingly randomly placed windows, Holyoke Center has housed the university’s health services, infirmary, and the majority of its administrative offices, as well as ground-floor retail. As part of Harvard's ongoing efforts to improve common spaces across its campus, the building will undergo extensive interior remodeling and exterior renovations in order to provide students, faculty, and staff with an expansive cultural and social center. Once complete, the rechristened Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center will contain a flexible indoor gathering space, lounges, and study areas, as well as exhibition, performance and event spaces. The building’s ground floor, renovated over a decade ago to enclose Sert’s original open-air arcade with glass walls, will remain open to the public with a variety of retail and food service outlets. “The Smith Campus Center will draw members of the University community together and serve as an important common space for everyone to enjoy and use,” said Harvard President Drew Faust last Thursday during the unveiling of the building’s new identity. “We are very pleased to be moving forward with planning, and we are eager to engage students, faculty, and staff in the important work of creating a flexible and welcoming campus hub.” Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 following an extensive planning process that will include considerable student and community participation.
Will you be in Boston between November 19 - 21, 2013? Are you in the architecture and construction industry? You're in luck! AN readers can take advantage of free access to the exposition floor at ABX, the Architecture Boston Expo. Simply use promo code ANP13 when registering. ABX is produced by the Boston Society of Architects and bills itself as "one of the largest events for the design and construction industry in the country, and the largest regional conference and tradeshow." Don't miss out! Check out an interactive floor plan of the exposition floor here or get more information on the ABX website.
Calling all landscape architects and urban designers. Are you heading to Boston for the 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects Conference? I am. On Saturday, November 16, I'll be reviewing projects and portfolios during a "Meet the Editors" event, alongside colleagues from a variety of shelter, design, and garden publications. There are still a few open spots, so sign-up or just drop by and introduce yourself. I hope to see you there. Also, check out this year's ASLA award winners designed by students and professionals. Great work!
Navigating Boston's subway system, known as "The T," will soon be a cinch with the help of a new map designed by Mikheil Kvrivishvili. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) named the Moscow-based interactive/graphic designer the winner of its "New Perspectives Map Re-design Competition" after receiving 6,837 out of the 17,045 votes cast by the public. A panel of experts—composed of MBTA officials, academics, urban planners, and cartographers—selected six finalists from a pool of dozens of applicants. Members of the public then voted online for their favorite design. The contest called for ideas that fit within the "Classic Tier" or the "Open Tier." The former required a more traditional approach to the MBTA rapid transit or "spider" map, whereas the latter welcomed interpretations leaning on the creative side. Kvrivishvili's map, according to the MBTA, fulfilled a four point criteria: "creativity, aesthetic quality, readability/visual clarity, and informative quality." This redesign comes at a critical time when the city is planning on allocating $13 billion in infrastructure, and while MassDOT is undergoing a rapid expansion with several new stations and a new rail line on the docket. The winning map will be updated to include the changes in the system as they are made. “We are entering an exciting period of growth and change in our system and I’m pleased that we were able to work with the public to help usher in some exciting new developments,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott in a statement. “As we continue to grow and improve our system, the new map will be a great symbol of the changes and updates were working on as a whole.” The maps will start popping up in new stations as soon as early 2014.