Shreve, Crump & Low Redevelopment | 334-364 Boylston Street | Back Bay

stellarfun

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The goal is not to forcibly retain the old for the sake of saying its old. We know there are hazardous materials, inept structures, leaky and/or impossible to insulate exterior wall constructions, etc., and also know that the present-day best use case (for a given land parcel) may be incompatible with what's on there from the past. Rather, the goal is to retain the character, not of any one specific land parcel, but of a street/block/neighborhood - with character loosely defined as "what you can't get anywhere else, and what will be forever gone if lost from Boston."

We have seen historic motifs physically moved to nearby parcels better suited for them (see: Lesley university), scanned and replicated with modern materials and artfully recreated on-site (see: 3D scanning, re-casting, and acid wash rapid patina, etc) (see: Little Building, Myles Standish Hall), or, with less effectiveness but still better than nothing, rebuilding structures in old styles (see: Mass + Main). The Mexican Embassy thing looks forced; moving those two facades to elsewhere nearby may have been a better solution that could have been even more effective at retaining neighborhood character. We live in a technological age where we can make something look a certain way almost wherever we want; true, if we under-spend on such efforts, it looks "Disney-fied" (which is worse than just demo'ing the thing); but there are enough examples of it being done right to suggest that at least some such efforts to retain historic architectural character of a neighborhood can succeed.
^^^This, and tobyjug's statement.

That said, I give you the example of what happened on the other side of the Arlington St. Church, in which there was arguably not only a "qualitative regression", but a regression that was far out of scale:. the construction of the Ritz Carlton hotel nearly a century ago.

A case in point is the group of three houses that Richard Morris Hunt [very famous architect, brother of famous painter William Morris Hunt] designed in 1859, within four years of his return from Paris. Erected at 13, 14, and 15 Arlington Street, the site now occupied by the Ritz Hotel, this group is conceived as a free-standing block consisting of a central element three windows wide, flanked by projecting pavilions of two bays' width. Four stories tall, it was constructed of brownstone and topped by the customary mansard roof. Despite the unity of the composition, it would never be taken for a Parisian residence. Its vertical organization as a series of row houses rather than as flats and its isolation as a detached building mark it as more Anglo-Saxon that (sic) Gallic. Yet the designer was surely conversant with current Parisian architectural styles and practices, for he had recently received a diploma from the Ecole des Beaux Arts and had worked in Parisian architectural offices.
Can't remember the source of this quote.

A selected list of Hunt's work indicates many did did not survive mid-Twentieth Century. Brahmin philistines did them in.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Morris_Hunt#Death_and_legacy
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A further note on the historic industrial structure that will be demolished in Washington.. A pre-eminent environmental consulting firm wrote to the new owner that if the contaminated brick façades were to remain, the building would be uninsurable, the corollaries then being unmarketable, and un-financeable. Somewhat similar to what would happen if the FAA declares a building to be a hazard to aviation, its uninsurable.
 

bdurden

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There needs to be a will, and there also needs to be a pot of money. Based on a Massachusetts bond issuance for Emerson, which included the Little Building, the re-construction cost for the Little Building was probably $175-$185 million. Emerson bought the Little Building for $5 million. But Emerson doesn't engage in the same financial calculus as a private sector developer. It has a guaranteed, predictable income stream from the Little Building for years to come, allowing for some measure of altruism.

The Embassy of Mexico in Washington. Preservation to what end?



The 19th Century building directly beyond the tree is where Lincoln died. Buildings similar to it in mass and height were demolished. No private sector altruism here.

Regarding your Mexican Embassy example, I think it enforces that buildings of architectural merit should be preserved.
The embassy building that surrounds it will likely need updating — most brutalism buildings require it and some fall too far into disrepair to not completely redo them.
 

JS38

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This is horrid, but IF we allow wholesale demo and new build, we MUST make sure the design value holds up so we don't get another Hotel Commonwealth fiasco etc. and right now with this site, Payless in Downtown Crossing, the building that was demo'd for Raffles near Copley and the WHOOP disaster in Kenmore, we are sadly not doing very well in Boston at present...
 

DZH22

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Makes sense that it's a company best known for tearing other companies down by saddling them with debt while Bain gets filthy rich at their expense. Tearing down Shreve, Crump, and Low to replace it with something worse is a perfect microcosm for the company itself.

There's something seriously wrong with the city's planning department(s) when they demonize things like height next to train stations, but allow the continuous destruction of historical buildings in high-profile locations. What's the next beauty that's going to land on the chopping block?
 

awood91

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Makes sense that it's a company best known for tearing other companies down by saddling them with debt while Bain gets filthy rich at their expense. Tearing down Shreve, Crump, and Low to replace it with something worse is a perfect microcosm for the company itself.

There's something seriously wrong with the city's planning department(s) when they demonize things like height next to train stations, but allow the continuous destruction of historical buildings in high-profile locations. What's the next beauty that's going to land on the chopping block?
You’re conflating Bain & Company (taking this building) with Bain Capital
 

navigator4

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You’re conflating Bain & Company (taking this building) with Bain Capital
There's not really any difference, see bellow:

Our History
In 1984, former Bain & Company partners founded Bain Capital as a private partnership focused on deploying management consulting strategy to private equity investing. Since our founding, Bain Capital has remained highly aligned to our limited partners and grown to become one of the world’s largest private, multi-asset investing firms. Bain Capital is a private, employee-owned company.
 

tobyjug

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^^^ In that case, an apt placement for vulture capitalists
 

Czervik.Construction

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Actually, they are completely different firms. Both are partnerships, but not the same firm. They do very different things.
Bain consultants spun out to form Bain Capital. Bain Capital is one of he world's largest private equity firms, investing billions of dollars in to companies. Bain Consulting does management consulting work. I used to work for a Bain consulting competitor and now work at a private equity backed company.
 

stellarfun

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Lots of asbestos in that building.

From filings, the contractor appears to be:
NEW ROADS ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES LLC

A subsidiary of Derenzo.
 

RandomWalk

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Someone should reenact David Macaulay’s Unbuilding on those and reassemble them somewhere else.
 

HenryAlan

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Actually, they are completely different firms. Both are partnerships, but not the same firm. They do very different things.
Bain consultants spun out to form Bain Capital. Bain Capital is one of he world's largest private equity firms, investing billions of dollars in to companies. Bain Consulting does management consulting work. I used to work for a Bain consulting competitor and now work at a private equity backed company.
Essentially, yes, but the consulting firm preceded Bain Capital.
 

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