General Boston Discussion.

DZH22

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Are there any notable examples of contemporary single / 2 family residential architecture in Boston or the inner suburbs? Modern architecture, new builds, not hewing to the prevailing colonial aesthetic. Or even MCM?

I'm thinking Boston proper, Cambridge, Somerville, inner Brookline here, not the next ring out. There's plenty of examples in the wealthy burbs, the Cape and islands, but very few in the urban bits. I can only think of one each in West Cambridge and near Davis.
I don't know how many units this has but it jumped to mind immediately.
 

stefal

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Are there any notable examples of contemporary single / 2 family residential architecture in Boston or the inner suburbs? Modern architecture, new builds, not hewing to the prevailing colonial aesthetic. Or even MCM?

I'm thinking Boston proper, Cambridge, Somerville, inner Brookline here, not the next ring out. There's plenty of examples in the wealthy burbs, the Cape and islands, but very few in the urban bits. I can only think of one each in West Cambridge and near Davis.
I've asked this before too. Came to learn searching tags on design blogs and sites like Dezeen, archdaily, etc. bring you the answers you're looking for. All the following are from Dezeen (linked).

I know you asked for new builds, but some of these additions are pretty modern and nicely done.

Cambridge House Corten Steel-Clad Addition:
1591148021698.png


Cambridge house by Anmahian Winton Architects:
1591147636093.png


(A little different): Translucent polycarbonate house in Cambridge MA:
1591147722591.png


South End House by SAS Designbuild
1591147763263.png

(This one is really high quality, inside and out. A personal favorite of mine.)

A little far out, but a house for an MIT Professor in Lexington by UN Studio:
1591148256211.png


Modern Addition in Wellesley:
1591147870081.png
 

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dhawkins

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Are there any notable examples of contemporary single / 2 family residential architecture in Boston or the inner suburbs? Modern architecture, new builds, not hewing to the prevailing colonial aesthetic. Or even MCM?

I'm thinking Boston proper, Cambridge, Somerville, inner Brookline here, not the next ring out. There's plenty of examples in the wealthy burbs, the Cape and islands, but very few in the urban bits. I can only think of one each in West Cambridge and near Davis.
There are a couple of contemporary examples in Brookline. I think the vernacular is growing on me.

210 tappen st.JPG
158 Winthrop st (2).JPG
71 Westbourne (2).JPG


And a couple of mid-century contemporaries. I would love a tour of the Eliot st residence, I wonder if it has not been modified since it was built.

11 clinton reno.png
255 eliot.png
 

Stlin

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There are a couple of contemporary examples in Brookline. I think the vernacular is growing on me.
Not going to lie, they've somehow made these look just like they're generic development condos to me. They probably are. They use the same design language as an awful lot of much larger developments, but here on a smaller building it just looks awkwardly out of scale and illproportioned. I'm sure they'll be lovely to live in, but from the outside they're hardly a tour-de-force of design.

They at least show small modern can be built in a dense neighborhood dominated by colonial, but they're somehow very forgettable.
 

Tallguy

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There is a large, nearly windowless building on Chestnut St in Chelsea near the district court. Does anyone know its function?
 

stefal

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There is a large, nearly windowless building on Chestnut St in Chelsea near the district court. Does anyone know its function?
The stucco building? Appears to be a Power Substation (for Eversource?)
 

Lrfox

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Are there any notable examples of contemporary single / 2 family residential architecture in Boston or the inner suburbs? Modern architecture, new builds, not hewing to the prevailing colonial aesthetic. Or even MCM?

I'm thinking Boston proper, Cambridge, Somerville, inner Brookline here, not the next ring out. There's plenty of examples in the wealthy burbs, the Cape and islands, but very few in the urban bits. I can only think of one each in West Cambridge and near Davis.
I'm over a month late, but I've seen a few in Cambridge/Somerville during my quarantine walks.

This one in Cambridge: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.380...4!1sf7H1XOh9xFoBAqoFPadZaQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

This one's a bit older: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.381...4!1sk6I_3qSb_wDSdP0QNLxNeQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Hard to get a glimpse on Street View, but this one (green) has a pretty awesome contemporary addition: https://www.google.com/maps/@42.381...4!1sX3YxE0BKPN3hqJEdwau1Ug!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
 

stick n move

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“In Newton, proposal would end single-family only zoning in large swaths of city”

“For generations, the foundation of the nation’s suburbs has been built on the ideal of a single-family home with a backyard. But as Greater Boston faces a housing crisis, is it time for a change?

In Newton, where skyrocketing housing costs push the median home price above $1 million, officials are exploring whether to end exclusively single-family home construction in up to more than half of the city’s residential areas, and allow denser development near train stations and other transit stops.”

Link

Finally
 

Arlington

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The trend in 2 family seems strongly in favor of side-by-side duplex (attached townhomes).The double decker has gone the way of the Philadelphia Style.*

For the last 20 years in Arlington all new 2 family construction (lot created by tearing down a little single family in an r-2 zone) has been predictable variation on the townhouse -with-garage door (your only variation was if the garage was on a basement level or on the ground level) always 1 garage door per unit (sometimes with space for 3 off street cars per unit if you were willing to block one car with others)

New trend:
Gut rehabs & conversion to side-by-side duplex. In Anlington, at least two currently underway rehabs of double deckers are undoing the above-below and redoing them side-by-side (e.g.SW corner of Lake St @ Brooks Ave in Arlington, a few doors North of the Minuteman) = 2 x 2.5 story townhomes (condo owners will no doubt split the original detached 2 car garage)

* Philadelphia Style was a high end Tetris format of
Unit 1 = first floor living + bedrooms half of second floor
Unit 2 = second floor entry (kitchen - dining - sitting) + bedrooms on third floor. Seems to have been a thing 1890 to 1915.
 
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Equilibria

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The trend in 2 family seems strongly in favor of side-by-side duplex (attached townhomes).The double decker has gone the way of the Philadelphia Style.*

For the last 20 years in Arlington all new 2 family construction (lot created by tearing down a little single family in an r-2 zone) has been predictable variation on the townhouse -with-garage door (your only variation was if the garage was on a basement level or on the ground level) always 1 garage door per unit (sometimes with space for 3 off street cars per unit if you were willing to block one car with others)

New trend:
Gut rehabs & conversion to side-by-side duplex. In Anlington, at least two currently underway rehabs of double deckers are undoing the above-below and redoing them side-by-side (e.g.SW corner of Lake St @ Brooks Ave in Arlington, a few doors North of the Minuteman) = 2 x 2.5 story townhomes (condo owners will no doubt split the original detached 2 car garage)

* Philadelphia Style was a high end Tetris format of
Unit 1 = first floor living + bedrooms half of second floor
Unit 2 = second floor entry (kitchen - dining - sitting) + bedrooms on third floor. Seems to have been a thing 1890 to 1915.
I think you have a hard time selling people on front doors/living spaces/kitchens above the first floor, given the need to carry in groceries, furniture, etc.

Triple-deckers are way less efficient to live in than thin townhouses.
 

cden4

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Those Brookline examples are such a shame because of the insane minimum parking requirements. Basically anything new in Brookline has a huge garage door or driveway on the ground floor rather than a nice front porch or garden.
 

bakgwailo

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I think you have a hard time selling people on front doors/living spaces/kitchens above the first floor, given the need to carry in groceries, furniture, etc.

Triple-deckers are way less efficient to live in than thin townhouses.
I would rather doubt that. The front door on a standard colonial two-decker is on the first level, and I have seen enough condo-ized two families where the top floor goes well north of $700k (here in Dorchester) to think people don't have a problem with it.
 
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Equilibria

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I would rather doubt that. The front door on a standard colonial two-decker is on the first level, and I have seen enough condo-ized two familyies where the top floor goes well north of $700k (here in Dorchester) to think people don't have a problem with it.
Just because you can sell it when it's old doesn't mean you want to build it that way new.
 

Arlington

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Equilibria sees my point.
1) Basically nobody is building new 2-decker duplexes, they're building side-by-side
2) Sure, some 2-deckers (particularly those with larger floorplans*) will get redone as 2-decker even if gut-rehabbed
3) But the more gutted (down to studs-and-planks) and the smaller floorplan 2-deckers (the 2-bedroom/900sq ft ones with a skinny central hall) seem to be more likely** to be reformatted as side-by-side.

*The 2-deckers I see "staying 2-deck" seem to be the one where you have great "single level living" on the main floor, which usually requires something like a 1300+ (a whole, workable apartment, often 3 small bedrooms off a wide central hall) and then a "bonus half floor" (if attic, it becomes a master bedroom, if basement it becomes a game room and spare bedroom)

** Only more likely, or even "increasingly likely" but I'm not claiming "guaranteed/100%" going to be side-by-side.
 

bakgwailo

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Equilibria sees my point.
1) Basically nobody is building new 2-decker duplexes, they're building side-by-side
2) Sure, some 2-deckers (particularly those with larger floorplans*) will get redone as 2-decker even if gut-rehabbed
3) But the more gutted (down to studs-and-planks) and the smaller floorplan 2-deckers (the 2-bedroom/900sq ft ones with a skinny central hall) seem to be more likely** to be reformatted as side-by-side.

*The 2-deckers I see "staying 2-deck" seem to be the one where you have great "single level living" on the main floor, which usually requires something like a 1300+ (a whole, workable apartment, often 3 small bedrooms off a wide central hall) and then a "bonus half floor" (if attic, it becomes a master bedroom, if basement it becomes a game room and spare bedroom)

** Only more likely, or even "increasingly likely" but I'm not claiming "guaranteed/100%" going to be side-by-side.
Yeah, I don't know. The floor layout on a two is pretty standard: one side is: (back to front) pantry/kitchen, dining room living room. Other side on the bottom is (back to front) bedroom, bathroom, bedroom, foyer. The upstairs is the same, except instead of the foyer it is a bonus office/third bedroom, small hallway connecting into the middle bedroom and living room. There is generally a hall way connecting the two main bedrooms and bathroom with a door out to the dining room (or kitchen). Porch access back/front. Given what a simple gut job and condoization can fetch (500k+ bottom, 650k+ top, more with finished attic), I don't see conversion to side by side as making economic sense. I would also say that building them on top of each other isn't so much a factor of people not wanting to live in them (as the old stock certainly shows that people do want them), but, like three deckers, modern building code makes them more difficult to build. Down the street from me is a new 4 unit build that has two units on the first, and two units on the second floor. Also not sure how something like the ADA would factor into it, as it wouldn't make much sense to make the second floor unit accessible (vs larger buildings that already need elevators/etc).

I just don't see why I would buy a two family for 700-900k (Dorchester/Rozzie/other neighborhoods, Newton/etc obviously more), to then go before the potential insanity that is zoning/needing a variance to reconfigure things, along with the costs of basically tearing down the units and building fresh vs just a straight forward gut and contract grade finishes, plus breaking it into condos where you are still going to make a pretty decent profit for much less work., even with smaller square footage. I honestly have seen a ton of the normal flips, but, really none (outside of this thread) being converted to side-by-side, and two families have definetely shot up in desirability the last 5 years to flip after three deckers have gotten so insanely priced. Maybe the economics in say Newton make it more profitable to do the tear down and expansion of square foot per apartment, but, to me that is the same thing as basically tearing down an existing single family to break the lot into a two family.
 

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