How Tall Are Boston's Buildings and Should They Be Taller?

kmp1284

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Then go ahead and tell every sports fan that they are stupid. Most people seem to be a fan of at least 1 sports team, that they have no control over. What's the difference?
Deep down, I think they know.

The difference though is that your vision for Boston is not the vision shared by most Bostonians. You’re basically here trying to convince us we should all be Yankees fans.
 

DZH22

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Deep down, I think they know.
What do YOU like or care about? 2016 messages later and it seems like your main enjoyment is trolling random people over the internet. I get it, that you don't like me, and I don't like you. But notice that I don't intentionally reach out to write a contrarian response to everything you have to say here?

If you actually said "I like XYZ" which would probably be your first positive post on this forum, I wouldn't jump down your throat telling you that "XYZ" is stupid or ridiculous, even though knowing you it probably is. It's not my business. Yet your business seems to be raining on other people's parades, contradicting their opinions, etc. It's never about what you like, and instead it's always about you tearing down what other people like. I don't know how you are in real life, but on the internet you're a very nasty person and I'm still waiting for an actual worthwhile contribution from you, after over 2000 posts.
 

shmessy

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Personally, I prefer a dynamic, dense and large area urbanity - - with no wasted parking lots and barren fields. This is why, although no supertalls are there, I do love the buildouts of the Seaport, NorthPoint, Brighton/Allston, etc. The city and urban DENSITY and dynamism is spreading. And if we are talking sports - - Be the "deep depth" New England Patriots, not the superstar top-heavy Cleveland Browns.

Tulsa with it's condensed area of superdupertalls does nothing for me. JMO.

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DZH22

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Tulsa with it's condensed area of superdupertalls does nothing for me. JMO.
The problem that I always have with these arguments, is that it basically implies that adding a few taller buildings into the mix would make Boston more like Tulsa. Isn't Boston already Boston? Aren't we just trying to tweak and improve an already great city? It's the kind of non sequitur argument that never makes sense in reality. If you can tell me how, say, making the Hurley addition 750' instead of 400' would make the city worse off (ie more like Tulsa), I'd be all ears.

Having a nice visual capper to each neighborhood (such as State Street tying together the North Station area plateau) does nothing to diminish the rest of the neighborhood. On the other hand, building wide wall-like buildings that block off the city behind them can diminish those neighborhoods and essentially cut areas off from each other. The Partners (or whatever it's called now) building in Assembly is my go-to example in that regard. Yuck. It literally blocks off the entire neighborhood from some angles!
 

Brattle Loop

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The problem that I always have with these arguments, is that it basically implies that adding a few taller buildings into the mix would make Boston more like Tulsa. Isn't Boston already Boston? Aren't we just trying to tweak and improve an already great city? It's the kind of non sequitur argument that never makes sense in reality. If you can tell me how, say, making the Hurley addition 750' instead of 400' would make the city worse off (ie more like Tulsa), I'd be all ears.
Something of a guess on my part, but I think the argument was more that Tulsa has some supertalls, surrounded by sprawl (and a bunch of surface parking lots) and that built-out-but-not-necessarily-supertall is better than supertalls-and-sprawl. I'd personally agree with that argument.
 

Blackbird

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I think there shouldn’t be any city-imposed height limits. If the economics don’t translate to any new tallest or any 200ft buildings in Codman Square, then so be it. But if they can, what’s the harm of having taller buildings even in residential neighborhoods?

And, while we’re at it, make the change state-wide. Let’s get a 200ft apartment building in Winchester Center.
 

shmessy

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The problem that I always have with these arguments, is that it basically implies that adding a few taller buildings into the mix would make Boston more like Tulsa. Isn't Boston already Boston? Aren't we just trying to tweak and improve an already great city? It's the kind of non sequitur argument that never makes sense in reality. If you can tell me how, say, making the Hurley addition 750' instead of 400' would make the city worse off (ie more like Tulsa), I'd be all ears.

Having a nice visual capper to each neighborhood (such as State Street tying together the North Station area plateau) does nothing to diminish the rest of the neighborhood. On the other hand, building wide wall-like buildings that block off the city behind them can diminish those neighborhoods and essentially cut areas off from each other. The Partners (or whatever it's called now) building in Assembly is my go-to example in that regard. Yuck. It literally blocks off the entire neighborhood from some angles!
Once again, I am 100% for supertalls. However, it is a far lower priority (to me) than filling in more land with active, dynamic, people-filled activity. Why has Boston always been called a "walking city"??? Because it has historically been urban and dynamic only for a tiny radius. It has always been the "small plate" restaurant. I LOVE that the dynamic radius is now spreading and becominig more world-class big league.

I see too many cities in the US that are deserts with tall buildings. The narrow tunnel vision some (especially Southern) cities have with this is depressing. Surface parking lots and weedy fields amongst supertalls is all too common in the US.

The best situation would be to have lots of supertalls and great dynamic, filled-in depth for miles. However, until 5 or 6 million more folks migrate to Boston, that ain't gonna happen any time soon. In the REAL WORLD, if given a choice, I'd rather have the coloring book nicely filled in, not a Rembrandt in the upper left hand corner of one page with the rest all blank (or worse, scribble).

Vive la difference! People have different outlooks and it's a good thing we all don't think alike. I happen to absolutely love your in-town photography from the streets of Boston that incorporate the human breathing city life element. Others enjoy your long distance telephoto work. People have different tastes, and that's good. In the meantime, I agree with your take on the Partners Building - - it ain't a lab, so there's no real good reason for the wide squatness.
 
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DZH22

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The best situation would be to have lots of supertalls and great dynamic, filled-in depth for miles. However, until 5 or 6 million more folks migrate to Boston, that ain't gonna happen any time soon. In the REAL WORLD, if given a choice, I'd rather have the coloring book nicely filled in, not a Rembrandt in the upper left hand corner of one page with the rest all blank (or worse, scribble).
The whole point is that, without the local government needlessly stepping in and chopping projects left and right, we WOULD be getting a smattering of those huge buildings along with continuing to fill in the rest of the city. We'd be getting the best of both worlds. The demand is already there. We don't need another 6 million people. We just need the government to have a more sensible building policy, especially in downtown and next to transit! If developers thought they could build something taller than the Hancock without a decade-long protracted battle and likely chop-down, it would be proposed. It's not the demand that is stuffing our taller towers in their tracks, it's the politicians!
 

393b40

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Most of my frustration with tall building stuff on aB is because it seems to creep into every thread at some point. Not the casual "this building should have been taller" but the long rambling manifesto's and missives that (mostly Odurandina) used to post but still seem to echo occasionally from a few other members who shall not be named. It's all so very tired. We get it, the Boston political establishment sucks, the zoning sucks, everything about the process sucks, but it so often just turns into pages of whinging about things that should be relegated to a single place (which is this thread).

I'm not opposed to height, but I don't need constant reminders in already U/C or proposed projects telling me the city should have allowed it to go higher or the developer should have added another 300ft. This is not to say nobody should ever talk about height, I recently brought up the height of Raffles - architecturally its a fine building, and I think its going to unfortunately not look nearly as good as if it had extended upwards some more. But I am not sitting in that thread typing up paragraphs about it and then getting into a virtual flame war with other members because of it.

Which now that I think about it the distinction about when talking about height is appropriate is between when the poster is really angling for a policy discussion (go here) vs. aesthetics of height in relation to the architecture itself (belongs in the project thread).
 

Brattle Loop

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The whole point is that, without the local government needlessly stepping in and chopping projects left and right, we WOULD be getting a smattering of those huge buildings along with continuing to fill in the rest of the city. We'd be getting the best of both worlds. The demand is already there. We don't need another 6 million people. We just need the government to have a more sensible building policy, especially in downtown and next to transit! If developers thought they could build something taller than the Hancock without a decade-long protracted battle and likely chop-down, it would be proposed. It's not the demand that is stuffing our taller towers in their tracks, it's the politicians!
The implication appears to be that there's a disparity between what the public wants (less-fettered development? supertalls?) and what the politicians want (stymying development for...reasons?), leading to a lack of height among other outcomes. Is that actually true, though, that there's a disparity? If so, it at the very least implies that the political-electoral system is not working properly. I rather think that the actual issue is that there's developers on one hand, vocal anti-development groups (probably mostly a loud minority), and a metric ton of voters who don't care one bit about the height of buildings. If you've got a bunch of apathetic constituents and the circumstances to get painted as overly-friendly with big-money interests (like some developers) by loud activists, it starts to make a lot of political sense why politicians might want to be a roadblock to some of these things. (Not to mention that there are instances where there's actually widespread community opposition to projects, like in the quasi-tongue-in-cheek idea of a 200-foot tower in Winchester would certainly draw. Politicians there opposing someone proposing something like that would in all probability be acting in accordance with the desires of the majority of the population in that case.)
 

shmessy

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The implication appears to be that there's a disparity between what the public wants (less-fettered development? supertalls?) and what the politicians want (stymying development for...reasons?), leading to a lack of height among other outcomes. Is that actually true, though, that there's a disparity? If so, it at the very least implies that the political-electoral system is not working properly. I rather think that the actual issue is that there's developers on one hand, vocal anti-development groups (probably mostly a loud minority), and a metric ton of voters who don't care one bit about the height of buildings. If you've got a bunch of apathetic constituents and the circumstances to get painted as overly-friendly with big-money interests (like some developers) by loud activists, it starts to make a lot of political sense why politicians might want to be a roadblock to some of these things. (Not to mention that there are instances where there's actually widespread community opposition to projects, like in the quasi-tongue-in-cheek idea of a 200-foot tower in Winchester would certainly draw. Politicians there opposing someone proposing something like that would in all probability be acting in accordance with the desires of the majority of the population in that case.)
Bingo - - let's face it: On one side are the developers and us ArchBoston nerds (myself included) - - on the other side is the vast majority of local voting citizens.

Unless there is a lot of under the table cash, the majority of voters are going to hold sway. Honestly, the only place where there is anger against the freaking docents of the Harbor Towers is here and the offices of Chiofaro. That's it, folks. We need to understand, we are the minority in this picture.

I think the fallacy is the thought that the average Boston citizen is as jazzed as we are about the prospect of more super talls. Sadly, I don't see that groundswell anywhere amongst Boston voters.
 

CBeckFJ

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Personally, I prefer a dynamic, dense and large area urbanity - - with no wasted parking lots and barren fields. This is why, although no supertalls are there, I do love the buildouts of the Seaport, NorthPoint, Brighton/Allston, etc. The city and urban DENSITY and dynamism is spreading. And if we are talking sports - - Be the "deep depth" New England Patriots, not the superstar top-heavy Cleveland Browns.

Tulsa with it's condensed area of superdupertalls does nothing for me. JMO.

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I absolutely agree with this point. A supertall would look out of place in Boston. Scatter a few 800-1000ft towers throughout and density the rest with 400-600 footers and below to add some much needed density to our skyline
 

Arlington

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Having just got back from Columbus OH, I experienced that cities are “unmade” by
1) Surface parking
2) lack of walkable retail
3) lack of the first 3 stories of height/ housing

…and that it would probably be better for cities to fist ensure a DC or Paris like “first 3 to 8 stories” or Arlington VA’s “18 atop transit” than anything taller

That said, in truly rare locations (DTX, SS, NS, BBY, Longwood, Kendall) 200 to 1000 should be allowed in exchange for transit funding, similar to what NYC is doing around Grand Central
 
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bdurden

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Having just got back from Columbus OH, I experienced that cities are “unmade” by
1) Surface parking
2) lack of walkable retail
3( lack of the first 3 stories of height/ housing

…and that it would probably be better for cities to fist ensure a DC or Paris like “first 3 to 8 stories”Or Arlington VA’s “18 atop transit” than anything taller

That said, in truly rare locations (DTX, SS, NS, BBY, Longwood, Kendall) 200 to 1000 should be allowed in exchange for transit funding, similar to what NYC is doing around Grand Central
DC has some of the best infill in the country these days. I’d take what DC is doing in the Navy Yard, the Wharf, Union Market, etc over what most cities are doing with a few tall buildings. DC is the rare US example however of a city without tall buildings by design where the density sprawls significantly outward from the core.
 

SuffolkHeights11

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Suffolk 83

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The whole point is that, without the local government needlessly stepping in and chopping projects left and right, we WOULD be getting a smattering of those huge buildings along with continuing to fill in the rest of the city. We'd be getting the best of both worlds. The demand is already there. We don't need another 6 million people. We just need the government to have a more sensible building policy, especially in downtown and next to transit! If developers thought they could build something taller than the Hancock without a decade-long protracted battle and likely chop-down, it would be proposed. It's not the demand that is stuffing our taller towers in their tracks, it's the politicians!
It's not "the government" blocking taller buildings the majority of the time. It's public sentiment, specially from older people who are very outspoken and generally the minority. We all know this. It's a cop out to blame government for everything like it's the big bad wolf. It's selfish nimbys and it's not going to change. That's why myself and several members here have gotten tired of the broken record diatribes. Give it up! Please! For my sanity and your own. If you're so passionate about it- go to the neighborhood meetings and make your voice heard! It does no good to rehash the same tired sentiment over and over on a message board- we all get it, alot of us generally agree but we also see what's reality. Time to face it and not live in fantasy land atop a hill 10 miles outside the city
 

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