The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is dedicating millions in funding to revive an inactive rail line, known as Track 61, to shuttle Bostonians between the bustling neighborhoods of Back Bay and the Seaport District. In the last decade, Mayor Menino has helped to transform Boston’s waterfront into a tech hub—accompanied by an influx of mixed-use developments—dubbed the Innovation District, which is now in need of better transit options to support this surge in activity. The city anticipates that the rail line will be up and running in roughly two years.
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After inviting several architecture firms to participate in a design charrette this summer, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts has selected Ennead Architects to design the museum's ambitious 175,000-square-foot expansion. This $200 million project will include new galleries, public program and education spaces, conservation and exhibition processing areas, and a restaurant. "Ennead Architects impressed us with their creative dexterity, in-depth understanding of our institution and thoughtful design solutions for the museum's complex architectural program. We celebrate their responsive, collaborative spirit and look forward to partnering with them to achieve a design that provides a superlative museum experience," said Dan Monroe, PEM's Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, in a statement. PEM initially chose London-based Rick Mather Architects to undertake the entire expansion project. The firm completed the first phase, including the master planning and renovation of the Dodge wing, but when founder and principal Rick Mather passed away this past spring, the museum decided to consider other firms. According to Boston.com, PEM cited the intimate size of the firm (15 architects) and Mather's "intense involvement" in the project as factors for the switch. Ennead, which employs over 100 architects, offers substantial museum experience. The firm recently wrapped up its expansion of the Yale University Art Gallery last winter, and has also cuts its teeth working on a number of other projects, such as the Brooklyn Museum, Natural History Museum of Utah, William J. Clinton Presidential Center, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. "PEM's expansion presents an exciting design challenge and an opportunity to reimagine one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in the country," said Ennead design partner Richard Olcott in a statement. This marks the second major building project that the museum has embarked on in the last ten years. Architect Moshe Safdie designed a $100 million glass and brick building expansion and renovation in 2003. The museum plans on breaking ground in 2015, and anticipates that the new wing will be unveiled in 2019. The Mathers-designed Dodge wing will reopen this October along with the revamped Art & Nature Center.
The city of Boston is laying the ground work to grow and simplify the process for urban farming throughout the city. Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) are introducing an amendment, Article 89, to the current zoning that would create opportunity for expanded urban agriculture activities such as rooftop farming and opening farm stands and markets. Beginning in May, the Mayor's office along with BRA launched a series of 11 neighborhood meetings to discuss Draft Article 89 with the public. This amendment change is part of the city's larger Pilot Urban Agriculture Rezoning Project that was initially started in 2010: A group of farming experts and advocates were selected to participate in the Mayor's Urban Agriculture Working Group to provide insight that helped inform a number of the recommendations included in Draft Article 89. This amendment tackles a range of urban agriculture issues from soil safety and rooftop and vertical agriculture to hydroponics and the care of animals and bees. Boston.com reported that the new zoning would allow for 1-acre ground-level farms in any neighborhood throughout the city, and then permit farms larger than one-acre in areas specifically zoned for industrial use. The amendment would also make it significantly easier for Bostonians to start a ground-level farm by requiring a special permit instead of mandating a public review process. According to the BRA's website, the Mayor's Office and collaborating partners are hoping that this ambitious initiative will "increase access to affordable and healthy food, particularly for underserved communities" and "promote economic opportunity and greater self-sufficiency for people in need, including increasing the capacity of Boston residents and business and grow and distribute local and healthy food."
Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey announced plans for expanding and maintaining the state's transportation system on Monday. The improvements outlined in the proposal would require an estimated $1.02 billion a year reported Masslive.com, and include everything from adding new tracks at South Station and implementing a commuter rail to South Coast, to major road repairs in Western Massachusetts and a pedestrian and bike program. One critical component remains rather vague, however—how the state intends on funding this costly agenda. MassDOT suggests a number revenue sources in its proposal such as a green fee (a fee assessed by the amount of carbon emissions released), an increase in tolls and fares, and an income tax that would increase the tax rate from 5.25 percent to approximately 5.66 percent. Governor Deval Patrick is expected to address the transportation plan in his State of the Commonwealth speech tonight, and the Boston Globe reports that he will likely come out in support of a raise in income tax.
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.
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.
MIT reached a settlement with Frank Gehry last month for what had been called a flawed, leaky design for his Ray and Maria Stata Center that led to a 2007 lawsuit, which also named construction manager Skanska as responsible. Blair Kamin revealed the news Tuesday on his Cityscapes blog, but he didn't reveal much as the settlement remains private. Drawing on an MIT student newspaper story from March 19, Kamin notes,
"MIT retained outside consultants to examine the construction for defects, and those consultants produced reports which are not publicly available." The account does not say whether any money changed hands in the settlement. [...] In an email Tuesday, Gehry said no money was involved in the settlement. On March 30, the university's news office issued a joint statement from MIT, Gehry's firm (Gehry Partners) and Skanska saying that the lawsuit had been "amicably resolved."So there you have it. Legacy preserved.