201 Federal Street | Residential Tower | Portland

markhb

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A while back in NYC, with fascination I watched the early foundations being prepared at Hudson Yards (eventually 20 towers will have gone up at this site). It was the biggest hole I've ever seen, and perhaps 50-60 feet down solid bedrock. I've heard that all of Manhattan is sitting on this. The Big Apple is more like the Big Rock.
There were some comments in the Boston Millennium Tower thread while it was under construction. At the time, they said that the foundation pour was the largest ever in the history of New England; the trucks kept coming for 24 hours straight! And yes, the famous Manhattan schist; I've read pieces on the infamous "$24 in beads and trinkets" story that said one of the reasons the natives sold for so little was that, since the topsoil on the island was relatively thin and the bedrock so shallow, it was relatively useless to them for agriculture. But that bedrock is the reason the island can support those buildings.
 

Portlander

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Thought I'd add a downtown Portland historical timeline for it's high rises that exceed 10 floors/levels and 120 feet in height. Did not include buildings outside of the central core such as the Portland House, Maine Med and Promenade East. Heights are derived from numerous sources over the years and may not be exact due to inconsistencies in measuring methods. I personally don't believe in counting spires and communication equipment, but am onboard with mechanical and ornamental features as long as they are an integral part of the building. The flashing neon on top of the Time & Temperature Building is a tough call and would add another 14' to it's height.

YEAR / BUILDING / FLOORS / NOTES

1909 Portland City Hall (5) 152' to top of weathervane, replaced former City Hall at same location that was destroyed by fire

1910 Fidelity Building (11) includes functional mezzanine level, 134' to top of corner parapets, second tallest building in New England (Ames Building, Boston) when completed

1924 Chapman Building (14) top two floors added in 1963, former Casco Bank and Portland Savings Bank, 163' to top of mechanical, shopping arcade with attached Civic Theater (closed in 1965), proposed conversion to hotel

1928 Eastland Hotel (14) includes Top of the East level, 168' to top of boiler shaft, now known as Westin Harborview, rooftop pool was permanently closed after rocker Ozzie Osbourne tossed furniture onto High Street in the 80's

1969 Franklin Towers * (17) senior housing project, 175' at roofline, first new downtown high rise in 41 years, tallest (occupied floor) building in Maine, Coles Tower (Brunswick) a close 2nd

1970 One Monument Square (10) Casco Bank HQ, originally planned for 20 floors, 134' to top of crown, exterior makeover in 2015, development was hailed as the beginning of the rebirth of downtown Portland

1973 One Canal Plaza * (10) Canal Bank HQ, approx 130' to top of mechanical covering, anchor of three building complex, Key Bank offices, neighboring parking lot rumored as location for future 275' tower by property owner

1973 Holiday Inn Downtown (11) 3 level parking garage in rear, 120' estimated height, now know as Holiday Inn by the Bay, exterior renovations in 2019, largest convention facilities in Portland

1974 One Maine Savings Plaza * (10) 511 Congress Street, now marketed as Ocean Gate Plaza, 130' estimated rooftop height, first building on Congress to be steeped back from street with plaza since City Hall in 1909

1980 Two Monument Square (10) 7 floors over 3 levels of parking, 128' to top of mechanical, recent interior renovations and remodeled connector to One Monument Square

1985 One City Center (13) built on the Golden Triangle site, former Norstar and Fleet Bank, 154' to top of mechanical, 5 story interior atrium, Bank of America regional HQ, PretiFlaherty law firm

1987 One Portland Square (10) People's Heritage Bank HQ, currently TD Bank, 130' ornamental height, anchor of a 4 building parcel, Verrill Dana law firm

1990 Back Bay Tower * (16) was originally planned as 19 floors, 162' ornamental height, residential usage with multi level garage at lower elevation, resident plaza/green space on top of garage

2008 84 Marginal Way (10) 6 floors over 4 levels of parking, 134' to roofline, first new high rise in 18 years, downtown fringe, Intermed main tenant

2023 201 Federal Street (18) under construction, will be Maine's tallest (occupied floor) at 190' to the roofline and 204' to top of mechanical penthouse, residential tower with retail on ground level, developed by Redfern Properties


* Due to the sloping of the Portland peninsula, floor count for these structures are determined from lowest elevation which may be considered a basement in some cases even though the level is actually above ground.
 
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TC_zoid

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Had One Monument Square been the original 20 floors the feel and look of Portland over the years would have been significantly different--twice the floor height and twice the impact.
 
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Portlander

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I had a clipping from the Portland Evening Express from October 1966 that described the new tower having ground floor banking, the next 3 levels parking and 16 office floors above. It was more than an idea, Cabot and Forbes (Boston) were the architects and the project had a $5 million dollar price tag but I don't remember seeing a rendering. Casco Bank decided to scale the project back due to the uncertainty on whether the Portland business community could absorb the extra office space that the bank would not use. As I have previously mentioned, Portland was experiencing a tough period (exodus to the suburbs, no new downtown construction) in the late 60's and the level of optimism was at a low point and to have One Monument Square actually move forward albeit only 10 floors was still a big deal at the time. I turned over all of my newspaper articles that I saved for decades to my friend Patrick who has been quiet on this forum recently for understandable reasons.
 
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Portlander

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TC, you are correct. Around the same time One Monument Square was finishing up, the 20 story Hampshire Plaza began construction in Manchester to claim the title of northern New England's tallest from Franklin Towers.
 

TC_zoid

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TC, you are correct. Around the same time One Monument Square was finishing up, the 20 story Hampshire Plaza began construction in Manchester to claim the title of northern New England's tallest from Franklin Towers.
Thanks for the list to get perspective on. So, in 33 years it's only been one "hi-rise" of ten stories built on the peninsula? That's kind of sad, either because of a stagnant economy or a public provincial mindset. Probably a bit of both.
 

DZH22

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Had One Monument Square been the original 20 floors the feel and look of Portland over the years would have been significantly different--twice the floor height and twice the impact.
Much more than twice the impact. Typically in a skyline view you cannot see these buildings from top to bottom (unless it's Midtown Atlanta or something and even that is filling in). When I go to most of my skyline views of Boston, at least the first 100' tends to be cut off completely, often more than that. So if we're comparing a 260' to a 130', that's a 2:1 ratio, but the typical visible portion might lose say 75'+ so it would be 185' vs 55', a 3.36:1 ratio. Obviously the more that is lost from a given view, the larger the visible ratio will be that is remaining.

However, even that fails to fully measure the impact of a height difference. How many 150' buildings would it take to deliver the same visual impact as 1 300' in Portland? In Boston, we have 22 buildings now at/over 500'. If we were to build 22 more at exactly the 500' mark, it probably wouldn't have the same visual impact (certainly not a pleasing/positive skyline impact) as 1 single building of 1000'.

NYC could assimilate infinite buildings up to 600' in midtown and to most people the city would look virtually the same.

End of the day, it's very hard to quantify the difference that the extra height can make, but it's immense and the formula is definitely exponential.
 

TC_zoid

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Much more than twice the impact. Typically in a skyline view you cannot see these buildings from top to bottom (unless it's Midtown Atlanta or something and even that is filling in). When I go to most of my skyline views of Boston, at least the first 100' tends to be cut off completely, often more than that. So if we're comparing a 260' to a 130', that's a 2:1 ratio, but the typical visible portion might lose say 75'+ so it would be 185' vs 55', a 3.36:1 ratio. Obviously the more that is lost from a given view, the larger the visible ratio will be that is remaining.

However, even that fails to fully measure the impact of a height difference. How many 150' buildings would it take to deliver the same visual impact as 1 300' in Portland? In Boston, we have 22 buildings now at/over 500'. If we were to build 22 more at exactly the 500' mark, it probably wouldn't have the same visual impact (certainly not a pleasing/positive skyline impact) as 1 single building of 1000'.

NYC could assimilate infinite buildings up to 600' in midtown and to most people the city would look virtually the same.

End of the day, it's very hard to quantify the difference that the extra height can make, but it's immense and the formula is definitely exponential.
Agree, though Portland's hi-rises are on a spine hill elevation of about 60 feet above sea level, so that helps. Otherwise, yes, the skyline would be somewhat nil. And with Boston, take the three Back Bay 700 plus footers out and plop them downtown and the city would have a much different look and feel. If the new State Street Bank that was recently topped off was 20 stories taller, that too would make it a much different city look and feel. But I like the spread-out nature of Boston's hi-rises. I travel a lot and this past summer got to see many of the mid-western cities and was not impressed with the standard and tacky tall one/s within the core. It was basically a big yawn, though Kansas City was kind of cool. Portland has more potential than most of these cities as it's only 100 miles from Boston (and a de facto suburb), of which is becoming one of the most important cities in the world if you look at the upper levels of tech jobs (Amazon, Google, Boeing, etc.) that are locating here thanks to the presence of MIT and Harvard, where the best and brightest of new tech talent can be found. The train tether connecting Portland is also key, and Bowdoin has been rising in academic significance too. My prediction is that the USM expansion will generate a call for a hi-rise or two in that area. The design characteristics of both structures are quite compelling (Passive House certified too). Gen Z doesn't want a car, so Portland is a big draw for this aspect too, to get to Boston for grad school options. Otherwise, if they did drive, how would they use their phones or laptops?
 
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Max

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I went into this post office today for the first time since construction began and was pleased to find a great view from within the vestibule area on the Temple Street side of the building. There's a slim window with unobstructed views, very close to the action!


IMG-0163.jpeg
 

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