Middlesex County Courthouse Redevelopment | 40 Thorndike St | East Cambridge

Charlie_mta

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It serves as a big reminder of the futility of NIMBYism. The fantasyland effort to get the building torn down went on for far too long, and now it's payback time! The uglier this building becomes during it's rehab, the more I like it! Turn it into Cambridge's version of the Hurley building! ;)
In this case the NIMBYs were right. Yes, it would have cost Middlesex County some bucks to demolish this eyesore, but that's the cost of correcting a huge mistake. A low/medium rise complex of retail, residential and office could have been built instead of perpetuating a monstrosity.
But, as has been said, it's a done deal.
 

Bananarama

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Just a reminder, it's getting a new façade and will look nothing like what's there now.
AR-141129028.jpg

Keep the height and density and there's more precedent for the neighboring garage to convert to something of similar size (if and when that happens).
 
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bigpicture7

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Just a reminder, it's getting a facadectomy and will look nothing like what's there now.
View attachment 10505
Keep the height and density and there's more precedent for the neighboring garage to convert to something of similar size (if and when that happens).
Banana, I'm with you on the benefits/density (and thanks for the post to pull us back on track with the scope of this development/its aesthetic).

Just a nitpick that "facadectomy" usually refers to the opposite of how you used it: it's when the outer skin is preserved while the entire internal structure/floors/columns/everything are demolished, and a new structural building is built on the inside, enveloped by the old skin. Here, as you know, its the bones being preserved and the outer skin getting demolished. Extraction and re-use of old facade is what, thankfully, isn't happening here.
 

Charlie_mta

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...who was going to bear the massive cost of demolition and abatement?
The original elevated Central Artery could have been much more cheaply replaced with a new, wider elevated highway, rather than the cut-and-cover tunnel that was implemented. Whether or not to commit government funding to correct a past mistake is a policy and political decision. In the case of the Central Artery, the decision was made in favor of spending funds to correct a past mistake; in this case of the Middlesex Jail, it was not. in my opinion it would have been justifiable to do so, just as it was in the case of the Central Artery project.
 

bigpicture7

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The original elevated Central Artery could have been much more cheaply replaced with a new, wider elevated highway, rather than the cut-and-cover tunnel that was implemented. Whether or not to commit government funding to correct a past mistake is a policy and political decision. In the case of the Central Artery, the decision was made in favor of spending funds to correct a past mistake; in this case of the Middlesex Jail, it was not. in my opinion it would have been justifiable to do so, just as it was in the case of the Central Artery project.
Oh it was absolutely a political decision here, I am not disagreeing. But key politically-relevant differences exist between your example and this. For one, here there is the trade-off of expending public money while losing the opportunity to gain new public money, vs. not spending public money while capitalizing on the opportunity to gain new money; no such trade-off existed for the big dig: no one was offering cash to buy rusted Central Artery infrastructure. And second, the Feds chipped in substantially for the Big Dig; no outside angels swooping in to help here. My response above was meant to be a pragmatic acknowledgement of the political reality, not advocacy; that's why I said "improved, not optimized" in relation to the solution. Perhaps I shouldn't have said "sound and rational" - but again, I meant this from a how-can-we-get-improvement-done-in-this-political-context? standpoint.

Your point is made, though, and certainly has been precedent of being applied (but not without difficulty): look no further than the Longfellow Bridge, beautifully preserved forgoing much cheaper alternatives. The right thing was done; yet not without substantial controversy about whether it was worth it. I for one am extraordinarily thankful for the outcome every single time I pass it.
 
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Bananarama

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Banana, I'm with you on the benefits/density (and thanks for the post to pull us back on track with the scope of this development/its aesthetic).

Just a nitpick that "facadectomy" usually refers to the opposite of how you used it: it's when the outer skin is preserved while the entire internal structure/floors/columns/everything are demolished, and a new structural building is built on the inside, enveloped by the old skin. Here, as you know, its the bones being preserved and the outer skin getting demolished. Extraction and re-use of old facade is what, thankfully, isn't happening here.
Oops, you're right. Good catch.
 

stick n move

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Yeap, the proper term for whats happening to the facade here is reclad, for future reference to those interested.
 

whighlander

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Yeap, the proper term for whats happening to the facade here is reclad, for future reference to those interested.
Stick -- in keeping with medical-architectural terminology fusion:
thankfully it wasn't a Facade-ectomy and even more thankful it wasn't a Facade-graft -- where they took the worst [the prison level] and grew enough of it in a petri dish to cover the whole rest of the tower
 

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