|daily menu » rate the banner | guess the city | one on one|
|February 4th, 2009, 09:36 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Boston, MA
Likes (Received): 4
BOSTON | Aquarium Garage Development | 50 & 70 Fls | Cancelled
These are proposed towers at what is now a 9-story parking garage. These are the first renderings, and knowing Boston, they will change. But, it's cool none the less.
Deconstructing Boston's skyline
Chiofaro's proposal is already sparking debate over design
By Casey Ross, Globe Staff | February 3, 2009
Donald Chiofaro wants to shake up the Boston skyline again.
The brash developer of International Place is proposing to erect near the New England Aquarium a pair of glass skyscrapers connected by a terra-cotta colored rectangle that itself would be taller than the two buildings.
The unusual design, evocative of the bold skyscrapers cropping up in Asia, is sure to set off a debate about Boston's conservative tastes in architecture as well as the kind of development that should accompany the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
Chiofaro's proposed towers - one for condominiums and a hotel, the other for offices - would be among the tallest in the city, rivaling the Prudential Building and the John Hancock Tower in the Back Bay. The buildings would be constructed on property now occupied by the Harbor Garage along Atlantic Avenue.
"The project, when viewed from the water back toward the city, really is the gateway. It's the centerpiece of the harbor view," Chiofaro said. "The idea of the arch is to accent the opening to the city. It's not just two towers, it's actually three architectural elements."
If built according to preliminary designs by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Chiofaro's development would create a new aesthetic in a city that has been resistant to unconventional design.
But is Chiofaro's vision over the top? The Globe, which obtained a copy of the design in advance, got several architects and urban planners to weigh in.
"It's certainly more modern than anything else you see here, and in that sense it's an important statement for Boston," said Abby Flam, a planner at Steffian Bradley Architects.
But like others, she was ambivalent about the proposal, adding, "I'm not sure it's quite right for this location, so it might be a little problematic for the city."
Architect Alex Krieger said Boston is beginning to welcome more expressive architecture after years of insistence that buildings incorporate traditional New England styling.
"In the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, there was a local sentiment that Boston must maintain its uniqueness," said Krieger, principal at Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, a Cambridge architecture and urban design firm. "The party line was that you had to make it brick, but I think we're over that period."
Chiofaro's buildings, which could be from 50 to 70 stories, will prompt significant talk on how the city should develop parcels along the Greenway parks. Build too many towers that cast shadows and that makes the area less friendly to pedestrians.
Boston's chief planner, Kairos Shen, said Chiofaro's proposal must wait until the city has a chance to set height and density guidelines for that area. Current guidelines limit development to about 15 stories.
"This would really be unprecedented height along the Greenway in a critical location," Shen said. "What we have to study is what would be the public realm impact."
The city expects to complete a study of the Greenway parcels within six months. Chiofaro has notified the city of his intent to build on the Harbor Garage site, which he purchased for about $155 million in 2007. A formal review could take 18 to 24 months.
Chiofaro said that while he respects the city's process, he believes the development will encourage more foot traffic by opening a new connection from the Greenway to the waterfront.
"Right now there is a giant cement block that is the Harbor Garage blocking the way," he said. "The architecture team spent a lot of time thinking about ways to make the pathways inviting for pedestrians."
Ground-floor space between the buildings would allow for several stores, restaurants, and an upscale grocery. His commercial tower, the shorter of the two, would include about 860,000 square feet of office space. The more slender building would include about 120 condominiums above a hotel.
The parking now available in the Harbor Garage would be moved underground.
Jim Batchelor, president of the Boston Society of Architects, said Chiofaro is right to push for a bold, new design, which he said combines elements of massive skyscrapers in cities like Shanghai with the more boxy geometry of Boston.
"He may get some push back, but that's the nature of debate, which is a good thing to have," he said.
Last edited by desertpunk; August 1st, 2012 at 11:08 PM.