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

kingofsheeba

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Can the political discussion be moved to the appropriate section of aB?
Sometimes politics and development go hand in hand. Especially considering this is a board on urban planning.

I think that the people who don’t want tall should go live out in the knowledge corridor and take up refuge there. Leave it to the talls.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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Is this really where this board is going? Is every thread going to immediately devolve into suburban height fetishists completely mischaracterizing the mayor and analyzing the city exclusively by zomg super tall!1!1!
Bruh, that's where this board has been for a very long time.
 

DZH22

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Bruh, that's where this board has been for a very long time.
If there's any singular parcel that should be THE hill to die on, it's the Hynes. The difference between Boston's next iconic skyscraper, and a series of walls visually blocking off the existing iconic skyscrapers, is palpable. If we have to fight for 4 more years until we get a new mayor, we'll fight for 4 years. We can't blow this with something like "Tremont on the Common at the Hynes." The parcel will make or break the next iteration of the Back Bay (and in extension, Boston) skyline.
 

BronsonShore

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If there's any singular parcel that should be THE hill to die on, it's the Hynes. The difference between Boston's next iconic skyscraper, and a series of walls visually blocking off the existing iconic skyscrapers, is palpable. If we have to fight for 4 more years until we get a new mayor, we'll fight for 4 years. We can't blow this with something like "Tremont on the Common at the Hynes." The parcel will make or break the next iteration of the Back Bay (and in extension, Boston) skyline.
YOU DON'T LIVE IN BOSTON. Do you understand how insulting it is to the people who actually live here for you to wage a crusade against an elected official based solely on a metric as stupid as building height? "Fuck efforts at creating an equitable transit system and a more climate resilient city! Boston need supertall!"

There are real issues in this city that deeply affect the people who actually live here. You don't get to "fight" the mayor of a city you don't live in because you want a cooler view (I mean, you can, because it's a free country, but if you do, you're an asshole).
 

DZH22

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YOU DON'T LIVE IN BOSTON. Do you understand how insulting it is to the people who actually live here for you to wage a crusade against an elected official based solely on a metric as stupid as building height? "Fuck efforts at creating an equitable transit system and a more climate resilient city! Boston need supertall!"

There are real issues in this city that deeply affect the people who actually live here. You don't get to "fight" the mayor of a city you don't live in because you want a cooler view (I mean, you can, because it's a free country, but if you do, you're an asshole).
The crusade is against getting a poorer proposal built than should be. The point is that we can wait out this mayor rather than blowing the parcel on something lousy. I'm not "fighting the mayor" and it has nothing to do with any of her other policies, although I disagree with many. I'm fighting to get the building Boston deserves right here on this parcel.

So since I don't live in Boston proper, I'm not allowed to have an opinion about the city I identify with? Go ahead and call me an asshole, but honestly you're a real scumbag for making that comment and for insinuating that I'm not allowed to share my point of view. This is America so if you want to silence me then maybe a more totalitarian country without freedom is speech is more your style.
 

Brattle Loop

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[Pops head out from the transit forum.]

The crusade is against getting a poorer proposal built than should be. The point is that we can wait out this mayor rather than blowing the parcel on something lousy. I'm not "fighting the mayor" and it has nothing to do with any of her other policies, although I disagree with many. I'm fighting to get the building Boston deserves right here on this parcel.
That's a fair position to take, and I'd just say that that was how I read your initial post.

That said, while I understand some of the reasons (this being an architecture and development forum), in my experience (and one of the reasons I tend to stick to the transit forums) there's frequently a tendency to categorize most if not all development as 'good' (especially if it's tall) and to dismiss opposition to projects (sometimes in a very condescending manner) as though the collective wisdom of (the majority? of) one development forum naturally and inherently overrides the (potentially-contrasting) viewpoints of an entire city and/or its elected government.

I want to make clear, that's not meant as a criticism of any individual member, to me it both explains the level of vitriol in some of these threads and raises a question of whether the purpose here is to actually debate anything, or not, and to what degree. You appear to me to implicitly consider a tall (supertall?) building "the building Boston deserves" on the Hynes parcel (please correct me if that's an inaccurate reading of your post). My personal view is that that's a perfectly valid position to take, but that oppositional positions are also valid. My question, then, is whether the point of this thread (and forum) is to be able to have that discussion, or if we're to assume that the pro-height, pro-development position is the only (presumptively) valid position? In my lurkings in this side of the forum a lot of the arguments seem to come from collisions between people who (understandably) take a pro-tower position and seem to for some reason object to others objecting from alternate positions. I think it'd be helpful to know the contours of what is and isn't "permissible" debate, because the unstated assumptions that seem to run through some of these threads can make navigating this forum difficult, and cause some seriously off-putting arguments. (Though in this particular case, I'd be very happy to see the Hynes get replaced by something nice and tall and shiny, so I agree with you on the desirability of quality use of the parcel.)

With that, I'll head back to the transit forum, in hopes of coming back to this end of the forum with some clarity over the terms of debate and discussion.
 

DZH22

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You appear to me to implicitly consider a tall (supertall?) building "the building Boston deserves" on the Hynes parcel (please correct me if that's an inaccurate reading of your post).
First of all, it needs to be a good building. Not like the junk recently built in Edmonton or being built in Austin. The design and execution need to be spectacular. It shouldn't be glass dominant either, as we already have 2 major towers like that now and it's kind of the Hancock's "thing." Also, a supertall is technically at least 300m, or 984', which likely isn't feasible anywhere in Boston. However, I would like to see something certainly over 800', if not 900', right on this particular parcel. Here and the Kings parking garage seem to be the only real places that could do it. North Station area could maybe hit right around 800' on one of those parcels, and Kendall could certainly do it but they haven't really figured that out yet. But for 900'+ in Boston it's this area of Back Bay or bust, and the FAA map has a very limited amount of parcels where it could work.

Not only do I want to see the height that is deserved, I just as much dread to see something shorter with the kind of view-killing width that will permanently wreck the (still) graceful look of the Back Bay skyline. I'm terrified of that fat undulating garbage building at the Back Bay Garage site blocking off a few too many views of the Hancock, and would hate to see that spread toward the other 2 Back Bay giants. It's an aesthetic thing, and not just from "the suburbs" or far off views. These giant walls and uninspired stumps often block off many better views within the city itself. They detract from the feel. For example, 888 Huntington took away the absolute top view of the Pru and 111 Huntington from across Boylston, and actually makes the city there feel smaller by its presence. Young adults today will never know the experience of stumbling out of a bar to the awe inspiring view of those 2 buildings towering over you.

So really, this parcel feels like it's it. It's the main shot for me to see a new tallest building before I die. Sure it doesn't solve all the city's other problems, or cure cancer, or promote world peace, but so what? When the Red Sox won in 2004, it didn't do any of those things either, but people cared. I care about this, and while it may not be the 2004 Red Sox groundswell, a lot of other people care about it too. (just, ya know, less than the archboston poster with the proverbial bullhorn)
 
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Charlie_mta

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Boston's "high spine", as it's been called since the 1960s by the BRA and others, extends from the Prudential Center area. curves around south of the Public Gardens and the Common, and ends at North Station, with some significant gaps along the way, especially in the middle area. I would like to see it extended and the gaps filled in, and a true high spine reach from Kenmore Square all the way to Sullivan Square eventually, with a branch that would include Kendall Square and the 1st Street corridor in Cambridge. There has to be a balance in Boston and Cambridge between preserving historic neighborhoods, but also courageously building up to be a world class city full of excitement, hope, and opportunity. In my opinion, that type of city would include a willingness to take some risks, and not fall back into a safe, provincial, type of paralysis.
 

Brattle Loop

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First of all, it needs to be a good building. Not like the junk recently built in Edmonton or being built in Austin. The design and execution need to be spectacular. It shouldn't be glass dominant either, as we already have 2 major towers like that now and it's kind of the Hancock's "thing." Also, a supertall is technically at least 300m, or 984', which likely isn't feasible anywhere in Boston. However, I would like to see something certainly over 800', if not 900', right on this particular parcel. Here and the Kings parking garage seem to be the only real places that could do it. North Station area could maybe hit right around 800' on one of those parcels, and Kendall could certainly do it but they haven't really figured that out yet. But for 900'+ in Boston it's this area of Back Bay or bust, and the FAA map has a very limited amount of parcels where it could work.

Not only do I want to see the height that is deserved, I just as much dread to see something shorter with the kind of view-killing width that will permanently wreck the (still) graceful look of the Back Bay skyline. I'm terrified of that fat undulating garbage building at the Back Bay Garage site blocking off a few too many views of the Hancock, and would hate to see that spread toward the other 2 Back Bay giants. It's an aesthetic thing, and not just from "the suburbs" or far off views. These giant walls and uninspired stumps often block off many better views within the city itself. They detract from the feel. For example, 888 Huntington took away the absolute top view of the Pru and 111 Huntington from across Boylston, and actually makes the city there feel smaller by its presence. Young adults today will never know the experience of stumbling out of a bar to the awe inspiring view of those 2 buildings towering over you.

So really, this parcel feels like it's it. It's the main shot for me to see a new tallest building before I die. Sure it doesn't solve all the cities other problems, or cure cancer, or promote world peace, but so what? When the Red Sox won in 2004, it didn't do any of those things either, but people cared. I care about this, and while it may not be the 2004 Red Sox groundswell, a lot of other people care about it too. (just, ya know, less than the archboston poster with the proverbial bullhorn)
Thanks for the informative reply. I agree with you on this one, especially as someone who went to high school in the Back Bay and was suitably impressed by the "showpiece" buildings (and despises the ungainly, obstructive thing they built on top of what used to be the Pru's food court). I kinda feel like something like a taller, marginally skinnier version of One Lincoln Street would go well there; a bit of glass to mirror the prevalent aesthetic while not becoming a mini-Hancock or 111 Huntington clone. (Hmm, now I'm picturing One Lincoln with that dark, greenish glass that One Dalton uses...) I definitely appreciate why people (reflexively or otherwise) oppose things, though in this particular case I do think it tends more towards reflexive NIMBYism (I mean, there's a dozen skyscrapers all around there. If they were talking about putting an 800-footer on Marlborough Street I'd be more sympathetic to the opposition.)

Boston's "high spine", as it's been called since the 1960s by the BRA and others, extends from the Prudential Center area. curves around south of the Public Gardens and the Common, and ends at North Station, with some significant gaps along the way, especially in the middle area. I would like to see the gaps filled in and a true high spine reach from Kenmore Square all the way to Sullivan Square eventually, with a branch that would include Kendall Square and the 1st Street corridor in Cambridge. There has to be a balance in Boston and Cambridge between preserving historic neighborhoods, but also courageously building up to be a world class city full of excitement, hope, and opportunity. In my opinion, that type of city would include a willingness to take some risks, and not fall back into a safe, provincial, type of paralysis.
Agreed. There is, I think, a considerable degree of reflexive opposition that is rooted mainly in that sense of provincial, safe, paralyzing fear (for lack of better phrasing) of change. That deserves to be challenged, and I think it rightly is by many members here. At the same time, there's plenty of opposition for valid (or at least debatable) reasons (both to general trends and particularly to specific projects) that is sometimes dismissed by lumping all opponents together in one big NIMBY basket, which I think both triggers some of the flame wars and increases the risk of walling ourselves off into a bubble that, paradoxically, can't actually help to operationalize the real and laudable desire and vision of a better city because it results in fixation on opposition as an implacable enemy. That balance is essential, and, at least in my view, having some of that debate here in a thread like this is helpful compared to simply ignoring or shouting down any heterodox views (though by all means I don't think we need to have those specific fights in every single project thread like happens from time to time).
 

kingofsheeba

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YOU DON'T LIVE IN BOSTON. Do you understand how insulting it is to the people who actually live here for you to wage a crusade against an elected official based solely on a metric as stupid as building height? "Fuck efforts at creating an equitable transit system and a more climate resilient city! Boston need supertall!"

There are real issues in this city that deeply affect the people who actually live here. You don't get to "fight" the mayor of a city you don't live in because you want a cooler view (I mean, you can, because it's a free country, but if you do, you're an asshole).
So because he doesn’t live in Boston he can’t have an opinion? I don’t live in Syria but do I like what Israel is doing to my cousins?

You’re the reason why Boston is stuck in the Menino 90’s.
 

kingofsheeba

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This is why you got kicked off Facebook
So it’s clear that you just want freedom of speech that suits you. That’s how you feel about others who don’t agree with your viewpoint. You possibly can’t be in your sixties and feel this way.

I’m sorry that your pseudo sensibilities are constantly offended. Wait a minute? No, I’m not.
 
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kingofsheeba

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I don't want it
Understand, that you can’t report your way out of an uncomfortable discussion. You’re either going to have to grow up and make peace, or let me live in your head rent feee. Because I think that I’ll settle right here.
 

Scott

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I didn't "report" anyone. Ask the moderator
 

gac108

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It’s on nobody’s agenda, because the city doesn’t need a 950 ft tower, and it sure as shit doesn’t need to annex Shrewsbury.

Is this really where this board is going? Is every thread going to immediately devolve into suburban height fetishists completely mischaracterizing the mayor and analyzing the city exclusively by zomg super tall!1!1!
No city needs a 950' tall tower. Even NYC and Shanghai have enough available space and (re)developable buildings/plots to make up for the shorter heights. They are symbols of success and wealth, something that Boston has in spades nowadays. So why not? Everyone who drives a Mercedes, BMW, or Audi could just as easily drive a comparable Toyota or Ford but they choose the luxury brands because of what they stand for and how they appear. Is it shallow and/or unnecessary? Of course it is but symbols mean something to people all around the world and have for thousands of years.
 

KentXie

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Bruh, we all know what's the source of all the problems is. It's Logan Airport. I say this partially in jest but the location never made sense since it literally funnels all travelers outside of Boston (North, West, South) through the city, causing immense traffic.

Move it, height limits' are removed, ????, profit
 

Brattle Loop

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Bruh, we all know what's the source of all the problems is. It's Logan Airport. I say this partially in jest but the location never made sense since it literally funnels all travelers outside of Boston (North, West, South) through the city, causing immense traffic.

Move it, height limits' are removed, ????, profit
Much as it'd be nice to have an airport with a less atrocious runway configuration, I'm just imagining the NIMBY nightmare of trying to build an airport somewhere else. (On the other hand, all the outrage being directed wherever that was might leave a vacuum to sneak some taller buildings through :cool: )
 

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