Hall of Shame Nominees

George_Apley

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Members are encouraged to nominate an existing building, park or other piece of infrastructure in the Boston area that they believe diminishes the urban or built environment. Nominate features that have attributes that, in your opinion, should not be replicated and should serve as a model for what not to do in future projects.

There will be three new inductees in 2020.

Previous Inductees

2019

Post Office Distribution Center
862 Beacon St
MBTA Silver Line

2012
Winthrop Square Garage [DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD]
McCarthy Overpass
Former HoJo's in Kenmore Square

2011
Symphony Towers
Storrow Drive
South Bay Center

2010
Bowker Overpass (Charlesgate)
South Bay Interchange
Harbor Garage

2009
Boston City Hall Plaza
Midtown Motel
Tremont on the Common

2008
Tip O'Neill Building
Congress Street Garage
Methunion Manor
 
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found5dollar

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throwing my two perennial nominations into the ring:


Mass Eye and Ear - for its dead streetscape and appearance of eating a much more sucessfull building




Harbor Towers - For not just the fenced off pool creating a barrier to the harbor walk but largely for the obstructionary tactics from the people that live there every. single. year.

 

Arenacale

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Some personal choices here...

Carson Tower
Jamaica Plain VA
Neponset Circle
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Vox On Two. It already won the Worstie for New Dev. Now the fact that it hasn't been struck by a meteor in Year 2 waives the 5-year Hall-of-Shame waiting period. Because it's just that fucking awful.
 

DBM

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Vox On Two. It already won the Worstie for New Dev. Now the fact that it hasn't been struck by a meteor in Year 2 waives the 5-year Hall-of-Shame waiting period. Because it's just that fucking awful.
Ooooh, fabulous nomination! Let us count the ways this one is truly wretched:

1.) It demolished the immortal Lanes & Games bowling alley. If you demolish a beloved institution such as that, the replacement better be stunning and better also include some kind of public amenity--a playground to the side or something--to help compensate for the loss. This ain't. And, to the best of my knowledge, it doesn't.

2.) It's more of the same in terms of the SimCity architecture that has been plopped down south of Rte 2, west of Alewife, north of Concord Ave. over the past decade. So more demerits for contributing to the feel of a soulless metastasizing blob 'o' sterility. (Even if the housing stock is desperately needed.)

3.) Still no bike path flyover spanning from Fresh Pond over said SimCity/Fitchburg Line/Route 2 to the start of the Minuteman Bike Path here, right, even with the hundreds of millions of private money sunken in here of late? A collective fail which adds more of a pox to this particular development.

4.) What a preposterously Unsafe At Any Speed driveway there for pulling in off of Route 2 eastbound. Everybody is doing 55 mph+ there on the downhill straightway--then, bang! The driveway. Heinously hazardous looking.

Man, I cranked those 4 out without even breaking a sweat, but perhaps there's more?
 

bigpicture7

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  • I'll pile on to agree with Mass Eye & Ear
  • The Mass General office Blding next to north station (former Spaulding Rehab) and adjacent surface parking lot:
    map1.png
    • Underutilized space next to a transit hub (particularly the surface lot)
    • Disruption of what could be a nice riverwalk/esplanade extension (I know the South Bank ped bridge is planned for near here, but it hasn't happened yet) / no public realm despite being right on the river
  • Center Plaza
    map2.png
    • I actually don't totally hate this building (if one ignored context), but I can't forgive it for totally blocking the beautiful courthouse
    • It's a giant monolithic wall in the heart of the city
 

F-Line to Dudley

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  • I'll pile on to agree with Mass Eye & Ear
  • The Mass General office Blding next to north station (former Spaulding Rehab) and adjacent surface parking lot:
    View attachment 9779
    • Underutilized space next to a transit hub (particularly the surface lot)
    • Disruption of what could be a nice riverwalk/esplanade extension (I know the South Bank ped bridge is planned for near here, but it hasn't happened yet) / no public realm despite being right on the river
To be perfectly fair, MGH has a short and easy-to-dump lease on that building on the very assumption that the slab is going to be terraformed by something grander after the Garden side of the block is 100% infilled, so there's (1) no strategic blockers whatsoever here, and (2) as exploitable fortunes go Nashua St. takes a decided backseat to 100% finishing off the Garden Towers that have been such a long time coming. I think the offices that are there (which can't be anything all that grand given how underutilized the parking is nowadays) are mainly location-agnostic recordkeeping & billing they can stuff literally anywhere inside 128 when the time comes to vacate for the wrecking ball. So I wouldn't say Spaulding is any sort of outsized cancer on the city like some others; it simply had a common-sense pecking order it needed fo follow.

Now...if by decade's end there's been no action here and it starts to look like whoever controls or de facto controls (Jacobs???) the slab is simply land-parking it like you could've accused the Garden Towers hole in the ground of being a cynical park-job from 2000-2015...then it's time to highlight the inefficiency. But probably premature right now.
 

bigpicture7

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To be perfectly fair, MGH has a short and easy-to-dump lease on that building on the very assumption that the slab is going to be terraformed by something grander after the Garden side of the block is 100% infilled, so there's (1) no strategic blockers whatsoever here, and (2) as exploitable fortunes go Nashua St. takes a decided backseat to 100% finishing off the Garden Towers that have been such a long time coming. I think the offices that are there (which can't be anything all that grand given how underutilized the parking is nowadays) are mainly location-agnostic recordkeeping & billing they can stuff literally anywhere inside 128 when the time comes to vacate for the wrecking ball. So I wouldn't say Spaulding is any sort of outsized cancer on the city like some others; it simply had a common-sense pecking order it needed fo follow.

Now...if by decade's end there's been no action here and it starts to look like whoever controls or de facto controls (Jacobs???) the slab is simply land-parking it like you could've accused the Garden Towers hole in the ground of being a cynical park-job from 2000-2015...then it's time to highlight the inefficiency. But probably premature right now.
All fair points if we just look at this as it stands right now (and certainly not blaming MGH for short-term leasing to fill a need). However, that's not the perspective I was taking. Perhaps someone knows the history better than me (in which case please chime in), but I assume there was some serious politics surrounding how this got plunked on this most inopportune spot in the first place years ago - it specifically looks like it was designed/intended to scale back north station / force reduced rail operations there / pave over previous trackbed for surface parking (perhaps to buffer the west end redevelopment from north station ops?). Even if the attempt wasn't so malicious, was it instead just founded on a poor assumption that rail infrastructure demand would continue to diminish as the auto-era took over? (I mean, does this view not show how this building intersects existing additional track routing to the station?)

Either way, I was responding to George Apley's prompt: nominate an existing building,...that they believe diminishes the urban or built environment. Nominate features that have attributes that, in your opinion, should not be replicated and should serve as a model for what not to do in future projects.
In sum, I was taking a Gosh-that-should-never-have-happened versus an it-can't-be-saved perspective.

Maybe there's some legit well-founded history here that I'm not aware of. Nonetheless, thank you for the optimistic perspective of what may become of this in the near future.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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All fair points if we just look at this as it stands right now (and certainly not blaming MGH for short-term leasing to fill a need). However, that's not the perspective I was taking. Perhaps someone knows the history better than me (in which case please chime in), but I assume there was some serious politics surrounding how this got plunked on this most inopportune spot in the first place years ago - it specifically looks like it was designed/intended to scale back north station / force reduced rail operations there / pave over previous trackbed for surface parking (perhaps to buffer the west end redevelopment from north station ops?). Even if the attempt wasn't so malicious, was it instead just founded on a poor assumption that rail infrastructure demand would continue to diminish as the auto-era took over?

Either way, I was responding to George Apley's prompt: nominate an existing building,...that they believe diminishes the urban or built environment. Nominate features that have attributes that, in your opinion, should not be replicated and should serve as a model for what not to do in future projects.

Maybe there's some legit well-founded history here that I'm not aware of. Nonetheless, thank you for the optimistic perspective of what may become of this in the near future.
There was no such back-history. The building dates to 1970 when free-falling Boston & Maine RR still owned all that land and there was no such thing as MBTA Commuter Rail. That was only 12 years after Draws 3 & 4 got torn out, when re-increase in train traffic was a prospect beyond reliable prediction. The blueprints were drawn even before the Highway Moratorium killed the Innerbelt and I-95 North. You can't draw a straight line to "maliciousness" from such divergently different era conditions. Besides, the state would've had no say in the matter to begin with even if it did see something future-worthy that no one else did.

At any rate, the building is wholly expendable with that fact being up-front understood by everyone who's transacted off of it for the last 10 years. And because the parcel touches on the NS parking lot and underpassing 93/Storrow connector tunnel the state will have full say in baking in any transit ROW provisions on the backside, because the adjoining Big Dig infrastructure already makes them a mandatory party to how it gets carved up. Brokering it for redev would only involve a few-foot linear strip on the backside for Draw 3 reinstatement (basically, no more than moving a would-be service driveway a few feet in), as 3 mirror-image NS drawbridges would have more total capacity today than the 4 NS draws of pre-1958 which were built for the steam era and unidirectional ops that burned a matching in/out yard trip & turnaround for every matching revenue trip. Being able to reverse on-platform gives the NS surface complex more total capacity with fewer platforms than it ever had 1928-58 at its greatest former physical extent. Future expansion platform berths are pre-reserved from the back of the TD Garden, and only serve to drag that rear-easement provision linearly under the Leverett ramps. A 150,000+ sq. ft. rectangular parcel framed by that rear easement, Nashua St., Nashua St. Park, and the ramps is total jump-ball for redev...or, rather, 2 equal-size parcels divided by a plaza at the midpoint where the 93/Storrow ramp is underpassing. It's highly unlikely anything would ever reach behind the Leverett ramps to air-rights cover the train station on the very inaccessible rear parcel which does not have any plausible street-grid access points and is complicated on the cover-over by the 93/Storrow underpass bisecting at an unfavorable angle. But only the most maniacial SimCity completists would ever be disappointed by that fact.


Again...this was not the most valuable real estate parcel in the neighborhood, nor the most valuable one under Jacobs' indirect control until the Garden Towers and all associated coattails redev along Causeway were 100% completed and leased first. Nashua St. is still "in the back" any which way, so it did not make sense to rush anything on the Spaulding site until the prime-most real estate in front of the Garden was all filled. You'll have a gripe that it's a cynical land-parking if nothing gets proposed before decade's end because now the spotlight is going to turn to Nashua as the next great slab in the neighborhood. But not until now, because it was always a long game re: which slabs got tapped first for max value and the Garden Towers went through their own frustrating 15-year-long land-park period before eventually getting built so Spaulding's timetable doesn't become "late" simply because the Garden Towers were late. Its current configuration is interim all the same until there's some evidence to point to that someone (like repeat-offender Jacobs) is artificially trying to slow down the real estate market for tactical advantage.
 

bigpicture7

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There was no such back-history. The building dates to 1970 when free-falling Boston & Maine RR still owned all that land and there was no such thing as MBTA Commuter Rail. That was only 12 years after Draws 3 & 4 got torn out, when re-increase in train traffic was a prospect beyond reliable prediction. The blueprints were drawn even before the Highway Moratorium killed the Innerbelt and I-95 North. You can't draw a straight line to "maliciousness" from such divergently different era conditions. Besides, the state would've had no say in the matter to begin with even if it did see something future-worthy that no one else did.

At any rate, the building is wholly expendable with that fact being up-front understood by everyone who's transacted off of it for the last 10 years. And because the parcel touches on the NS parking lot and underpassing 93/Storrow connector tunnel the state will have full say in baking in any transit ROW provisions on the backside, because the adjoining Big Dig infrastructure already makes them a mandatory party to how it gets carved up. Brokering it for redev would only involve a few-foot linear strip on the backside for Draw 3 reinstatement (basically, no more than moving a would-be service driveway a few feet in), as 3 mirror-image NS drawbridges would have more total capacity today than the 4 NS draws of pre-1958 which were built for the steam era and unidirectional ops that burned a matching in/out yard trip & turnaround for every matching revenue trip. Being able to reverse on-platform gives the NS surface complex more total capacity with fewer platforms than it ever had 1928-58 at its greatest former physical extent. Future expansion platform berths are pre-reserved from the back of the TD Garden, and only serve to drag that rear-easement provision linearly under the Leverett ramps. A 150,000+ sq. ft. rectangular parcel framed by that rear easement, Nashua St., Nashua St. Park, and the ramps is total jump-ball for redev...or, rather, 2 equal-size parcels divided by a plaza at the midpoint where the 93/Storrow ramp is underpassing. It's highly unlikely anything would ever reach behind the Leverett ramps to air-rights cover the train station on the very inaccessible rear parcel which does not have any plausible street-grid access points and is complicated on the cover-over by the 93/Storrow underpass bisecting at an unfavorable angle. But only the most maniacial SimCity completists would ever be disappointed by that fact.


Again...this was not the most valuable real estate parcel in the neighborhood, nor the most valuable one under Jacobs' indirect control until the Garden Towers and all associated coattails redev along Causeway were 100% completed and leased first. Nashua St. is still "in the back" any which way, so it did not make sense to rush anything on the Spaulding site until the prime-most real estate in front of the Garden was all filled. You'll have a gripe that it's a cynical land-parking if nothing gets proposed before decade's end because now the spotlight is going to turn to Nashua as the next great slab in the neighborhood. But not until now, because it was always a long game re: which slabs got tapped first for max value and the Garden Towers went through their own frustrating 15-year-long land-park period before eventually getting built so Spaulding's timetable doesn't become "late" simply because the Garden Towers were late. Its current configuration is interim all the same until there's some evidence to point to that someone (like repeat-offender Jacobs) is artificially trying to slow down the real estate market for tactical advantage.
F-line, thank you for this enlightening history lesson. You have convinced me that both a) there was a general lack of maliciousness, and b) the present state is changeable. This reduces the hall-of-shamefulness to some extent.

At the same time, a ugly building is blocking a potential improved riverwalk/public realm and there's been a big surface lot adjacent to one of our most major transit stations for the past 50 yrs. Our peers can decide on this.
 

CSTH

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Think big. New front door for North Station, facing the river, and a north-of-boston intercity bus terminal, with extensive development of rail air rights and redev of the jail across the street.
 

Scott

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Which segues us to the Nashua Street Jail. In hindsight, the worst use of space ever. The fact that a jail even exists on waterfront property tells us how polluted the water across the street once was.
 

Massachoicetts

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There are so many, can I nominate like five? Lol

1. Everything behind North Station until the River. Didnt even know how much land was back there until I strolled there back in September. Such a waste...
2. Hynes. It ruins Dalton, Boylston streets. Something so much better could be there.
3. Hurley Building. Enough said.
4. Government Center and One Center Plaza. Very underutilized, underwhelming and bland. Kills the vibrancy of neighbors.
5. Harbor Towers. Its like an enclave of weirdness and suburbaness.

6. Darth Vador Towers. What is with Boston and 300-400ft buildings and gates that surround its lot??
 

Equilibria

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The Harbor Towers, Central Plaza, and State Services Center (all of it, together) are the right answers. For its ongoing saga of sadness, though, the Harvard Square Theater:

1611592309986.png
 

found5dollar

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^
ugh. I spent some of the best nights of my life in that building going to see Rocky Horror all through college.
 

DZH22

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Maybe this is for this year but this one
For now this is more of a "Worst Development Proposal." Once the historic structure is demoed and then replaced with something inferior, that inferior completed projected will likely make it in here the second it becomes eligible!
 

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