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statler

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I wonder if an architect was even involved in the design of the Beacon St addition?

Looks to me like the owner just called a contractor and said 'build me the largest possible addition' so the contractor built a box. I doubt the builder even contemplated the death of history, blah blah, blah..
 

ablarc

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I wonder if an architect was even involved in the design of the Beacon St addition?
If there wasn't, you're looking at a violation of a very stictly enforced law. The chances of that in this prominent location is exactly zero. http://www.archboston.org/community/showthread.php?p=69783#post69783: see post #248.

Looks to me like the owner just called a contractor and said 'build me the largest possible addition' so the contractor built a box.
This scenario has been impossible for close to a century. It's still possible in India and Honduras.

I doubt the builder even contemplated the death of history, blah blah, blah..
Builders just drive nails --though these days they often also hire the architect. The State calls this "design-build".
 

scootie

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Actually the law requires a licensed architect OR a licensed engineer.

[from 780CMR]

116.2 Registered architectural and engineering services:

116.2.1 Design: All plans, computations and specifications involving new construction, alterations, repairs, expansions or additions or change in use or occupancy of existing buildings shall be prepared by or under the direct supervision of a Massachusetts registered architect or Massachusetts registered professional engineer and shall bear his or her original signature and seal or by the legally recognized professional performing the work, as defined by M.G.L. c. 112, ?81R. Said signature and seal shall signify that the plans, computations and specifications meet the applicable provisions of 780 CMR and all accepted engineering practices.

But this is a minor point.

To criticize modernism or architects based on this work is specious nonsense.

See below there are three documents.
Page 1 is the building permit for the addition. Note the "name of architect or engineer? is 'Eastern Design Associates' [right up there with Rudolph and Kahn on everyone's lists I trust?].
Page 2 is the refusal letter from ISD for the zoning violations.
3 and 4 are the zoning appeal that was filed which was obviously approved.

From the appeal: "The appellant is of the opinion that the granting of this petition will in no way detract nor be detrimental to the character of the neighborhood nor the public good. A litteral [sic] enforcement of the zoning regulations would involve a substantial hardship upon the appellant. Desirable relief may be granted by your board without derogating from the intent and purpose of these regulations?

Priceless.





 

Lurker

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I've seen Pollock's name on other hideous additions in the 1970s. I guarantee the approval was given based on a hefty bribe and that notice of the hearing was mailed late or at least very well hidden in the back of the papers to keep neighboring property owners from showing up.

Eastern Design Associates I think did the replace boathouse at Wellesley College in the 1970s. Probably the only notable work they ever did.
 

czsz

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Reductio ad absurdum is a conversation-killer.
Sure, it'd be a reductio ad absurdam if I did post photos of packing cases - but these I got by googling "tenement", in direct response to your point. If the conversation's dead, it's only because the answer is ridiculously clear.

BTW, scootie's point was

To criticize modernism or architects based on this work is specious nonsense.
 

briv

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I think it's true that many complex factors contributed to the cultural shift (or erosion of standards, if you prefer) that allowed such ridiculously bad architecture as the addition on Beacon to be built. But I think Ablarc is correct in assigning Modernism a hefty portion of the blame. It was, after all, Modernism that gave such recklessness and insensitivity (disdain?) its intellectual justification (mandate?).
 

Ron Newman

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What I find puzzling about this addition is that the most straightforward approach would have been simply to clone the top two old floors.
 

statler

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^^But that's already been done. The architect needed to do something "new".
 

ablarc

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^ Clearly, Statler has grasped some basic tenets of Modernism.

Endless novelty.
Better to stand out than fit in.
Better to proclaim newness than accommodate the old.

Above all, Modernism was revolutionary.
Revolutions destroy old orders.
 

statler

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^^ But at the same time, newness isn't inherently bad. It just has to be done well (and that's really hard to do). Correct?
 

czsz

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I've never understood why so many consider the Hearst Tower a good example of the contrast at work. The base invites something vertiginous and soaring, but the tower seems to wrap itself down and, with its chain-link pattern, suggest containment. They're both very nice pieces of architecture individually, but I don't think they're complementary at all.
 

Ron Newman

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how about (what I still call) the Tower Records building at Newbury and Mass. Ave? Most people seem to like the non-contextual hat that Frank Gehry put on that old building.
 

ablarc

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I don't think they're complementary at all.
That's right, I totally agree. They're as disparate as can be --like the Beacon Street example. But unlike the Boston project ...

... they're both very nice pieces of architecture individually
If you're able to do something nice enough, folks will forgive you for not harmonizing.

That's where being as good as Foster comes in; you can retain your Modernist credentials and acquit yourself honorably by doing something new and jarringly different --which is mandatory if you're a Modernist adding to an old building.

You're farting in public --but you have great-smelling farts. :cool:

But seriously, how many architects are as good as Foster? A good but lesser luminary like Robert A.M. Stern would likely have played it safe and chosen to continue many of the old building's themes.

I've never understood why so many consider the Hearst Tower a good example of the contrast at work.
I think you already answered this question (above).

And I think you answered statler's as well. :)
 

scootie

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What I find puzzling about this addition is that the most straightforward approach would have been simply to clone the top two old floors.
I think continuing the bowfronts up simply would have been more expensive. They would have had to hire masons, built curved walls, etc. This looks like a Butler building [a prefab building system] plopped on top of the four townhouses as the cheapest possible way to get more saleable SF out of the property. The ugly ham-handedness does not diminish the value of the building; in fact these properties are assessed at a higher value than the neighboring properties [This is not a defense, just a statement of fact].

A final interesting irony about this property is that the current owner is Boston University and the buildings were acquired under John Silber's watch. Maybe one day BU will hire Foster to give it a face lift or, [God forbid] tear it down and build some genuine genius.

^ Clearly, Statler has grasped some basic tenets of Modernism.

Endless novelty.
Better to stand out than fit in.
Better to proclaim newness than accommodate the old.

Above all, Modernism was revolutionary.
Revolutions destroy old orders.
Maybe it's the koolaid talking [or is it Corbu-aid?], but I think to seriously argue against ?modernism? with this as your example is just silly.

I would agree that maybe the architects deluded themselves into thinking that the ?rules of modernism? [whatever those are] allowed them to do this; or that they were ?geniuses? but who cares? It is just an ugly building addition and everyone [so far] agrees that this is ugly. A useful debate about a work of architecture or a ?style? [if you must] should be had using an example where you have someone arguing the contrary position.

I don?t believe in styles or in setting up false dichotomies. I don?t believe that there is currently a consensus on what Architecture is and that is a good thing. [The Corbu-aid made me say that, help!]
 

kennedy

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I think continuing the bowfronts up simply would have been more expensive. They would have had to hire masons, built curved walls, etc. This looks like a Butler building [a prefab building system] plopped on top of the four townhouses as the cheapest possible way to get more saleable SF out of the property. The ugly ham-handedness does not diminish the value of the building; in fact these properties are assessed at a higher value than the neighboring properties [This is not a defense, just a statement of fact].

I would agree that maybe the architects deluded themselves into thinking that the ?rules of modernism? [whatever those are] allowed them to do this; or that they were ?geniuses? but who cares? It is just an ugly building addition and everyone [so far] agrees that this is ugly. A useful debate about a work of architecture or a ?style? [if you must] should be had using an example where you have someone arguing the contrary position.

I don?t believe in styles or in setting up false dichotomies. I don?t believe that there is currently a consensus on what Architecture is and that is a good thing. [The Corbu-aid made me say that, help!]
It's ugly in reality, but in theory it's perfect. It stands out. I wouldn't give it revolutionary, but it certainly is different. The architect just sucked. Tried to be a genius. Either that, or it was a call to the General for a prefab steel box.
 

kennedy

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I've never understood why so many consider the Hearst Tower a good example of the contrast at work. The base invites something vertiginous and soaring, but the tower seems to wrap itself down and, with its chain-link pattern, suggest containment. They're both very nice pieces of architecture individually, but I don't think they're complementary at all.
Absolutely.

how about (what I still call) the Tower Records building at Newbury and Mass. Ave? Most people seem to like the non-contextual hat that Frank Gehry put on that old building.
Gehry did that? Gehry worked in Boston? And did something that doesn't look like Bilbao? 'Cause I've always loved that building.

Thanks for showing me this, it's probably the most beautiful piece of architecture I've come across. Stunning. Breathtaking. I would pay so much money to go and see it in person. Easily in the World's Top 10.
 

Beton Brut

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Gehry did that? Gehry worked in Boston? And did something that doesn't look like Bilbao? 'Cause I've always loved that building.
Mid 80's. Gehry liked putting hats on buildings back then. Learning to use metal skins, but before he discovered CAD and Titanium.

Thanks for showing me this, it's probably the most beautiful piece of architecture I've come across. Stunning. Breathtaking. I would pay so much money to go and see it in person. Easily in the World's Top 10.
It's okay. The light, and the framing of the views are what makes the Falkestrasse Dachaufbau interesting. Aalto and Lautner got there 50 years ago. And they've gotten better.
 
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