Which building should be redeveloped

CantabAmager

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RE: that Mass Ave building that looks like the spaceship from Independence day

I think the stretch of Huntington between Copley and the Mass Ave intersection is one of the best examples for trying to understand and assess urban renewal and/or redevelopment in general. The West End, Scollay Square, South Cove, NY Streets, etc... constitute the more extreme examples, but Huntington represents to me a more complicated (and probably more appropriate for current discussion) picture of the time.

Huntington used to have a more clear, contiguous connection with Copley. As can be seen here:

Looking southwest from Copley


Looking east over railyards (Huntington to lower right):


Looking toward Hunt. x Mass Ave (from north to south, then south to north)



Street level, looking southwest from Harcourt St


A lot of the razed buildings towards the intersection with Mass Ave (including the spaceship building I think) were part of the Mother Church campus renewal program; the Church owned most of the peripheral properties which they sold off to developers to the defray the costs or turned over to the BRA. I don't personally like a lot of what has been put up since, but as has been mentioned, a lot of the newer buildings are functional replacements, they're larger, greater FAR in many cases, have shops on the street, generate more tax money for the city than what they replaced. I think an unbroken street-wall of 4 and 5-story, 1890-1920-era apartments is a great environment and better in that it tied Huntington more closely to the Back Bay; I think Symphony Towers, those other gray ones by W. Newton, the motel, etc are miserable replacements from an aesthetic perspective. I think the reflecting pool at the CSC is nice, but it's size is superfluous and that old block of abutting apts could've meshed perfectly well and I think that Copley Square looked better with the SS Pierce Building (see bottom)

But many of these buildings certainly have their benefits and opposition based mostly in aesthetic preference is dangerous (except in the case of the motel - fuck that place). Unlike a lot of the other areas whacked upside the head by urban renewal mania with objectively detrimental results, Huntington's experience is lot more complicated, more challenging for anyone else like me that likes the older stock but has no interest in being a martyr for it; it's probably one that deserves more attention as its a good place to look when trying to put a lot of the more recent developments in perspective: what's important? Function or aesthetics or size or open space? What's the balance?

SS. Pierce Building (center and left) - Copley Place didn't displace this building fwiw, it was torn down well before.
 
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Digital_Islandboy

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That building is rather ugly, but I don't think it's all that bad from a functional point of view. The "sidewalk" here is gigantic, the ground level is entirely retail, the overhang provides shelter from inclement weather, and despite its impermeable appearance, there are several pedestrian cut throughs that keep it from actually being so.
I was told by someone who was looking for apartments in the area that the inside looks very nice despite what outside looks like.
 

West

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Doubtful it's going away. Assessor's site shows Boston Edison as owner, and it looks absolutely like a substation sort of building. Unless NStar has some alternative location for whatever equipment is in there - and they so rarely do have such alternatives in dense urban areas - this will be a fixture for some time to come. There's even some equipment in the parking area, which suggests that they've already outgrown the building itself.
 

Scalziand

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Problem: the blank wall of 45 Province that everyone hates.

Solution: a needle tower on the site of the Bosworth street annex of the Omni Parker Hotel, just large enough to block the blank wall.
 

bigpicture7

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Problem: the blank wall of 45 Province that everyone hates.

Solution: a needle tower on the site of the Bosworth street annex of the Omni Parker Hotel, just large enough to block the blank wall.
Yes. That would be awesome.

Also, a question for the panel that I'm sure has been discussed somewhere but I can't seem to find it - can someone enlighten me as to why that blank wall on 45 Province is there in the first place? I poked around the 45 Province thread and couldn't seem to find an explanation (other than people complaining about it). I was a semi-frequent viewer of this forum back then (before I joined) but can't seem to recall learning about this.
 

citylover94

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I believe it is part of the elevator/utilities core and as such had to be a solid wall.
 

bobthebuilder

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Yes. That would be awesome.

Also, a question for the panel that I'm sure has been discussed somewhere but I can't seem to find it - can someone enlighten me as to why that blank wall on 45 Province is there in the first place? I poked around the 45 Province thread and couldn't seem to find an explanation (other than people complaining about it). I was a semi-frequent viewer of this forum back then (before I joined) but can't seem to recall learning about this.
If you look at the parcel for 45 Province, it is a very narrow lot between province & chapman st. There isn't enough room to put the core in the middle of the building. If you did that, you would likely lose 1-2 units on each floor. Now they could have put the core on the opposite side of the building, but ten you would have wound up with a blank wall on the street vs what is for all intents and purposes an alleyway.

You could have put the core at one or both ends of the building, but my guess is that would not have been as attractive an option financially.
 

bigpicture7

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Thanks citylover and Bob...but the question still becomes by they went with chintzy blank cladding like that. Plenty of buildings employ glass curtainwalls over "bank" areas of the building...some have entire mechanical floors wrapped in curtainwall with opaque material behind it. They could have finished off this side with a curtain wall and even considered a cool lighting display behind the glass.
 

JeffDowntown

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Doubtful it's going away. Assessor's site shows Boston Edison as owner, and it looks absolutely like a substation sort of building. Unless NStar has some alternative location for whatever equipment is in there - and they so rarely do have such alternatives in dense urban areas - this will be a fixture for some time to come. There's even some equipment in the parking area, which suggests that they've already outgrown the building itself.
That electric substation services most of Chinatown and the near South End. It is not going anywhere.
 

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