Posts tagged with "Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)":

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Chiofaro Chopped

The news out of Boston this morning is that developer Don Chiofaro has bowed to community opposition (pun intended?) and will reduce the height of his harborside Boston Arch tower complex, designed by KPF. Formerly at 1.5 million square feet, the building will shave off 10 to 15 percent of its bulk, including the loss of the distinctive "skyframe" that gave it its name. The frame, which rose to 780 feet, is gone, leaving the towers behind, also at reduced heights. The slenderer residential and hotel tower will now rise to 625 feet, instead of 690, a Chiofaro representative told us today, and the 560-foot office tower will also shrink. Final designs are still in the works. Not to say we didn't see this coming. Indeed, when we first wrote about the tower back in June, we expected as much:
Then again, this is how most real estate deals get done: propose the most extreme possible project, and work down from there. Chiofaro said he had toiled for months on getting the project just right, revising its scale, composition, and components. “The geometry of the buildings begins to be set specifically by what goes inside of them and what we’re trying to achieve on the ground,” Chiofaro told AN. [...] The only problem was that against the skyline, the two towers looked somewhat muddled, which is how the arch was conceived. “Not only does it create an icon, a real gateway,” said Andrew Klare, an associate principal at KPF, “but with that addition, it actually makes the scale break down.”
According to Chiofaro, the height reductions were provoked by Massport, which oversees the airport and apparently did not feel safe with anything taller than 625 feet near the Logan approach, and thus the reduction. But could it also be that the arch was originally conceived as a folly to make the building look taller than it actually is, only to be cast aside later to assuage the concerns of the community? When we suggested as much, Chiofaro's people demurred. Now we're left with two stepped towers with some sort of retail base—not unlike Chiofaro's first major success, the nearby International Place, designed by Philip Johnson. And now, onto round two, as we wait to hear from the BRA on its Greenway study, which was advocating for something in the 400-foot range at the extreme.
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Two Strikes for Chiofaro

After the recent mixed reviews of his KPF-designed Boston Arch project, local developer Don Chiofaro has been told within the last few days by both state and city officials that his proposal is considerably too large and may take years of regulatory review and planning to get off the ground. No worry, as the infamously forthright developer has taken his project to the people, counting on concerts and blaring signs like the one above to show that it is the mayor and the BRA that are bullying his grand vision and not the other way around.
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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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HSM: Warped on Wooster Street

Yesterday, Curbed got the scoop on the new 27 Wooster Street, designed by KPF. Just as they were hitting publish, Henry Smith-Miller, principal of Smith-Miller Hawkinson and the designer of the proposal KPF is replacing, had written us about the project--and his apparent consternation. We asked to know more, and he gamely responded, even encouraging us to air his grievances here-in:
Thanks for your e-mail, I'd say there is no infringement here just bad manners and questionable design. After several years of hard work with Axel Stawski and his partner Tony Leichter, we had a project endorsed by Landmarks and City Planning and ready to permit. At the completion of our work, Mr. Stawski determined that he needed bigger units and a less expensive building exterior. We parted amicably, Axel then spoke with Thom Mayne [Ed.: Thom Mayne!] who passed on the project, and then he turned to KPF, who have built some of the best new buildings in the city. KPF has set a very high standard for design excellence all over the world, and I was surprised to see their attempt to build in SoHo. Their design, although similar in massing to our proposal, is radically different in its appearance. Taking a cue from the Nouvel's extraordinary exterior design at 40 Mercer, KPF has brought the window mullions forward of the full height operable glazing and "protected" the opening with juliet balcony front. I guess the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will have to judge the new proposal based on its merit and not on what we had proposed. For the record, we had proposed an intentionally, and completely flat, structurally glazed and reflective water white glazed skin (with parallel projected window sash) that "wrapped" the corner of the building in a configuration very similar to the typical cast iron neo-classical applique found on many of SoHo's buildings. Our mullion system was behind the glass skin and there were no balconies, our proposal was about skin and surface, reflection and lightness.
All that hard work for naught. And now, courtesy of 27 Wooster's very own blog, a picture of a board of a rendering of the KPF design. UPDATE: The 27 Wooster blog posted some new renderings last night, plus a rundown of neighborhood buildings against the new one. I wonder where they stand on the issue. Still, given recent trends in and around the neighborhood, we'd argue it's a pretty close fit.
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ACC Ascends Council

One day earlier than expected, the Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously to amend the zoning lot at 19th Street and Arch Street, site of the proposed American Commerce Center. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the council's Committee on Rules voted 9-0 in favor of the rezoning. As we wrote last month, this does not grant approval of the KPF-designed project. Instead, it simply changes the zoning of the lot from medium density commercial site with a 125-foot height limit to a super-dense site with no height limits, making way for the 1,500-foot tower, which would far surpass its neighbors. With zoning in hand, it is believed financing and tenants should begin to follow. Still, the project must return to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the council for final approval within the year, lest the rezoning expire.