Middlesex County Courthouse Redevelopment | 40 Thorndike St | East Cambridge

Bananarama

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This forum fetishizes height and skylines too much.
The building as-is is already absurdly out of scale for the neighborhood. We should be thankful it's not getting stripped down to its podium.

I'm all for height where appropriate, but this is one of those extreme cases where how pretty it could look on a skyline postcard/aerial is irrelevant.
 

bigpicture7

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This forum fetishizes height and skylines too much.
The building as-is is already absurdly out of scale for the neighborhood. We should be thankful it's not getting stripped down to its podium.

I'm all for height where appropriate, but this is one of those extreme cases where how pretty it could look on a skyline postcard/aerial is irrelevant.
I agree that height is often fetishized in out-of-place contexts on this forum. I also generally agree that it's not worth quibbling over 2 stories here or there (especially if this minor concession to the neighbors results in substantial housing getting built where its sorely needed). And if this were 20 years ago, I would agree holistically with your comment here.

However, on the whole I disagree with your conclusion (i.e., deeming this an extreme case where skyline is irrelevant), given the particulars of this case. I think we need to now accept the inevitability that the stretch a couple of blocks in from the river from Lechmere to Kendall is at risk of filling up with a monolithic plateau of ~200' biotech lab buildings (see my comment above regarding several parcels being acquired for this purpose). If this is inevitable, then I personally believe it's prudent to create a mixed used zone, with aesthetic diversity and height diversity (and width diversity). I get that this building is on the borderline between such zones, but it still contributes to the diversity that's needed. It will not look out of place, as it has for 50 years, once all the dust settles with the 1st St. corridor.
 

Equilibria

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I agree that height is often fetishized in out-of-place contexts on this forum. I also generally agree that it's not worth quibbling over 2 stories here or there (especially if this minor concession to the neighbors results in substantial housing getting built where its sorely needed). And if this were 20 years ago, I would agree holistically with your comment here.

However, on the whole I disagree with your conclusion (i.e., extreme case where skyline is irrelevant), given the particulars of this case. I think we need to now accept the inevitability that the stretch a couple of blocks in from the river from Lechmere to Kendall is at risk of filling up with a monolithic plateau of ~200' biotech lab buildings (see my comment above regarding several parcels being acquired for this purpose). If this is inevitable, then I personally believe it's prudent to create a mixed used zone, with aesthetic diversity and height diversity (and width diversity). I get that this building is on the borderline between such zones, but it still contributes to the diversity that's needed. It will not look out of place, as it has for 50 years, once all the dust settles with the 1st St. corridor.
I think this is partially right, but we do have some ground truth on this with the CambridgeSide proposals and they aren't 200'. East Cambridge isn't amenable to Kendall or Cambridge Crossing scale.
 

bigpicture7

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I think this is partially right, but we do have some ground truth on this with the CambridgeSide proposals and they aren't 200'. East Cambridge isn't amenable to Kendall or Cambridge Crossing scale.
Fair enough that there's some speculation on my part here, but we do indeed know that one of the Cambridgeside labs (including mech levels) is somewhere between 180'-200' per the latest submittal (see p. 18-21). It is true that we don't know the extent to which One Canal Park or Charles Park will be developed; though I think it's fair to say that they'll at least get mechanical levels augmented onto them (to my knowledge actual design proposals haven't been submitted yet). I sincerely do not believe new owners are going to keep them as offices.
 

guitarguynboston

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The area being between 2 major subway lines does make it a prime location for height. Especially for residential with the labs to the east and Kendall on the other side. I could only imagine the price of such units with the view from that location across the river from Boston.
 

Java King

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I didnt really have a prob with the old building, ground level needed improvement for sure, but this is definitely a vast improvement. Great project and a major win that it wasnt chopped down.

New
Looking at the latest renderings posted, it looks like the sunshades are gone? That was my favorite architectural feature of this design. Does anyone know for sure if they are gone from the design?
 

fattony

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Now we are rendering trees not just on buildings, but inside them too.
 

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