Bulfinch Crossing East Parcel | Congress Street | West End

DZH22

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The State Street building blocks the "money shot" of The Sudbury. This wall-blob will block the "money shot" of State Street. This building belongs either in Kendall, or (preferably) on the scrap heap. It's stunningly terrible.
 

Equilibria

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The State Street building blocks the "money shot" of The Sudbury. This wall-blob will block the "money shot" of State Street. This building belongs either in Kendall, or (preferably) on the scrap heap. It's stunningly terrible.
The originally proposed buildings would have done the same thing...
 

393b40

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The originally proposed buildings would have done the same thing...
Yea im having a hard time understanding what people are angry about here exactly. It was going to be a wall no matter what and they look like they are doing an okay job with the retail on the ground floor.

Market conditions changed massively due to covid. I dunno what to do here, HYM obviously doesn’t think office/hotel demand is going to recover in a nearish timeframe. Do you make them wait a few years? What if its still dead in five years? Will they even come back with a good proposal at that point?
 

citydweller

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On the plus side; I really like the rendering of the new / proposed building. More importantly (to me) is that the plan to raze the hulking parking garage hasn't changed.
 

stefal

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I was looking forward to a true small-scale urban plaza. It interacted with Canal Street well, provided a space that was closed in by buildings on all sides, and allowed for circulation to either the Greenway or Boston Public Market/City Hall Plaza. Those are all small gestures by themselves, but urban plaza design is most successful with those small gestures. There also would have been some life naturally there from the hotel that would have demanded a larger variation of retail, and some interesting architecture on all sides, with a boutique office and boutique retail building.

What we're now getting is a big step down from that: a lab building (with retail, yes), but the plaza just runs along the lab and a bus stop/Atlantic Ave now. That's not really a proper urban plaza to me. That lab building will bring some activity to the area at 830 am and 5pm, and that's about it. The visual connection with Canal Street is softened now. The connection to the Greenway is there, albeit less defined, and the connection to City Hall Plaza/Boston Public Market is looking less than ideal.

What was HYM to do, though? I don't know. A few weeks ago I suggested funding for hotels was dead for at least a few years and it got shot down. HYM is the first to publicly change plans from hotel to something else, and I know of one other hotel project that's not looking great, though they haven't announced it publicly yet. (This doesn't fare well for One Kenmore, which I haven't heard anything about....)
 

Equilibria

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What was HYM to do, though? I don't know. A few weeks ago I suggested funding for hotels was dead for at least a few years and it got shot down. HYM is the first to publicly change plans from hotel to something else, and I know of one other hotel project that's not looking great, though they haven't announced it publicly yet. (This doesn't fare well for One Kenmore, which I haven't heard anything about....)
There's two pieces to that - form and use. HYM could have built two lab buildings that framed the plaza. They didn't do that because they didn't want the expense of building over the tunnel and the MBTA didn't want the impacts of having the bus station closed for more then three years.

I'm not sure anything could be done about the office/hotel vs. lab part. That's economics. The prior proposal had a landmark multi-level retail space that I never thought was realistic to fill (it looked like where a Virgin Megastore would have been, or a flagship Toys R Us, neither viable in 2021). This seems like a half-asked attempt to solve the form problem.
 

DZH22

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The originally proposed buildings would have done the same thing...
I thought there was at least some sort of opening between the 2? It wasn't just a football length wall. This is like building the Partners (or whatever it's named now) building in the middle of downtown. It's gross.
 

RandomWalk

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It’s a solid mass due to its program as a lab. It’s not like they can split the building into smaller plates and double the circulation cores and utility spaces.

This building will also be cursed with the stumpy look due to the large utility screen for the considerable amount of rooftop units required for the lab use.
 

Lrfox

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Yea im having a hard time understanding what people are angry about here exactly. It was going to be a wall no matter what and they look like they are doing an okay job with the retail on the ground floor.

Market conditions changed massively due to covid. I dunno what to do here, HYM obviously doesn’t think office/hotel demand is going to recover in a nearish timeframe. Do you make them wait a few years? What if its still dead in five years? Will they even come back with a good proposal at that point?
I think the disappointment is twofold.
  1. The change to the urban space is significant, with a single building here instead of 2 creating a pedestrian corridor that is an extension of Canal St.
  2. The loss of the hotel and some of the retail which would activate the space more (and for more of the day) than a lab will.
I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I think the change to lab is acceptable considering the economics of building in the city post COVID, and I'm glad they've included ground level retail along the plaza with the capacity for spillover. It should be a drastic improvement over the status quo. I also think there's potential for "enclosing" the plaza with a smaller step-down structure on the surface road side if/when conditions call for it in the future. On the other hand, I'm not thrilled with the initial render here, and I preferred the previous site layout and usage. I also think it's kind of nuts that an Orange/Green head house isn't part of the initial build here. It's obnoxious for people who have to transfer between the bus and Orange/Green (and there are plenty of them). But I'd still take this over leaving the parcel empty in the hope we'll end up with something better in the future.
 

Blackbird

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Yea im having a hard time understanding what people are angry about here exactly. It was going to be a wall no matter what and they look like they are doing an okay job with the retail on the ground floor.

Market conditions changed massively due to covid. I dunno what to do here, HYM obviously doesn’t think office/hotel demand is going to recover in a nearish timeframe. Do you make them wait a few years? What if its still dead in five years? Will they even come back with a good proposal at that point?
I'm angry about the "plaza" personally. Was supposed to be a nice little place, but the new proposal has it looking like a barren buffer zone between the building and the busway.

But I'd still take this over leaving the parcel empty in the hope we'll end up with something better in the future.
So long as the garage comes down, I personally might prefer the parcel to remain vacant until something better comes.
 
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Equilibria

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I thought there was at least some sort of opening between the 2? It wasn't just a football length wall. This is like building the Partners (or whatever it's named now) building in the middle of downtown. It's gross.
I'm sorry in advance because I know it will hurt to see it, but:

1625687874933.png


The Boutique Office building extended the full length, as did the Hotel/Condo on the other side.
 

bigpicture7

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All I know is I need to get myself a can of that "render sheen." There are many dull objects in my life that could use some.
 

DZH22

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I'm sorry in advance because I know it will hurt to see it, but:

View attachment 14634

The Boutique Office building extended the full length, as did the Hotel/Condo on the other side.
Ouch, clearly I wasn't paying as much attention outside of the 3 towers. It doesn't look like they're in the same spot though. Is the new lab where the "Hotel/Condo and Iconic Retail" were supposed to go, or is it replacing the "Boutique Office?" This one just appears more monotonously overwhelming while the original plan broke up the massing and materials.
 

stick n move

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Yea walking along what is essentially an extra wide sidewalk next to a bus terminal is a huge downgrade for the canal st extension. I get that they dont want to build a tower over the station, but I dont see why they couldnt build a 1-2 story retail building to enclose the ped corridor.
 

bigpicture7

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The Boutique Office building extended the full length, as did the Hotel/Condo on the other side.
There are differences in massing that I believe matter. I'd like to see this lab a couple of stories shorter and perhaps with a stepped roofline. Even a stepping of just a couple of stories or so across the width would help this feel less monolithic.

EDIT: also, designers of labs need to find creative ways of better hiding the ridiculously massive mechanical penthouses these buildings have (at least when they're in prominent locations). I say this as a mechanical engineer (i.e., I know no one is trying to make them massive) - but I also don't believe anyone is trying particularly hard to stealth-ify them either. The equipment itself likely can't be shrunk, but I am confident there's room for improvement in how gracefully (or not) it's integrated. It's a matter of giving a crap and being willing to spend $$ (like almost all other architectural issues).
 
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Equilibria

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There are differences in massing that I believe matter. I'd like to see this lab a couple of stories shorter and perhaps with a stepped roofline. Even a stepping of just a couple of stories or so across the width would help this feel less monolithic.
I think that's right. I also think this building may be taller than any of the previously proposed buildings, because I agree with DZH that the "money shot" from prior renders wasn't blocked like this.

EDIT: also, designers of labs need to find creative ways of better hiding the ridiculously massive mechanical penthouses these buildings have (at least when they're in prominent locations). I say this as a mechanical engineer (i.e., I know no one is trying to make them massive) - but I also don't believe anyone is trying particularly hard to stealth-ify them either. The equipment itself likely can't be shrunk, but I am confident there's room for improvement in how gracefully (or not) it's integrated. It's a matter of giving a crap and being willing to spend $$ (like almost all other architectural issues).
Also true. All it would take here is extending the metal cladding up to cover it. They're just cheap.
 

JeffDowntown

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I think that's right. I also think this building may be taller than any of the previously proposed buildings, because I agree with DZH that the "money shot" from prior renders wasn't blocked like this.

Also true. All it would take here is extending the metal cladding up to cover it. They're just cheap.
It is likely that a more ventilated version of the cladding system would be needed, but you are on point. The mechanical penthouse needs to be part of the overall façade design, and appropriate complementary cladding needs to be extended to the penthouse. I cannot just be an afterthought.
 

RandomWalk

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The lab building reads as a monolith compared to the combination of buildings from the original proposal. I also think it will be taller than the max height of the office building.
 

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