Residents of large waterfront towers oppose plans for large waterfront towers reports the trustees of Harbor Towers have come out swinging against Donald Chiofaro's proposed towers next door, saying they're just too damn big:

Since modern urban planning began here in Boston in the early 1960s, it has been customary and an article of faith that we do not build huge skyscrapers and excessive density on our waterfront; the recent, professionally conducted Greenway District Guidelines, supported by broad public participation, reinforced that principle.



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modern urban planning began here in Boston in the early 1960s

If modern is more than half a century ago, you're on crack.


No. "Modernism" largely

No. "Modernism" largely refers to 20th Century architecture & urban planning until about 1980 when PoMo happened. Urban renewal got its roots in the late 50s early 60s and is thus included in modernism.

Modernism -> Post Modernism -> Contemporary



But that would be "Modern" and not "modern", no?


Does "contemporary" refer to

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Does "contemporary" refer to a specific time period, or is it always "now"?

If it's the latter, what will the name be for the period just after postmodern?

in terms of architecture and

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in terms of architecture and planning, modernism arrived in Boston with Walter Gropius in the 30s.

He may still be on crack, however, but Modern is far from modern

They loved the undecorated boxes Gropius baldly fashioned here.

I found a funny little Gropius neighborhood of single family homes in Lexington and most crappy faux brick masshole suburb apartments from the 50s and 60s are an avid nod to Walter.

My mother lived in one in Stoneham... Stoneham Bauhaus.

I wonder if they came equipped with Gebrauchsmusik piped in through ceiling speakers?

No, it was a comic aside.

Many of the apartments cheaply tossed up in the late 50s to mid 60s owe a bit to Gropius who shared a kind of cult of functionality with Hindemith.

So if you live in one of the period Gropius dumps around here, you might want the Hindemith piped in to savor the full experience.

You could spice it up with large prints of sardine heads on a plate by Lazlo Moholy Nagy if you wanted to be adventurous.

My mother lived in one briefly in 63 or so and it was in Stoneham. She was more of a Kingston Trio and Nat King Cole fan though.

They must love...

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...hulky, concrete behemoths. Sounds like they'd be happy to keep the eyesore of a garage where it is, cutting off the waterfront from everyone.

By the way, early 1960's era modern urban planning in Boston left us with this


If they're so into 1960s

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If they're so into 1960s urban planning, we should bulldoze their entire neighborhood a la the West End.


Are we talking about the

Are we talking about the zipper buildings? Or, what I've heard called, "How Boring Towers?"

More to the point, I thought the FAA had been limiting the height of waterfront buildings because of Logan flightpaths.

FAA does not limit building heights

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At least because they do not want to be sued for a regulatory taking under the 5th Amendment. So far as they're concerned, you can build as high as you like. FAA will merely make a determination that your building is a hazard to air navigation (if such designation is warranted under their regulations).

Great, right? Well, not quite. The designation wouldn't matter to you, but for the fact that the designation makes your building uninsurable. Investors typically don't want to invest in buildings that can't be insured. Result: the building is built to a height that is not a hazard to air navigation. It works beautifully, really.

On a related note, some very talented people at Massport (with consultant assistance) have put together something called a "composite surfaces map" (or some such) for Logan. It compiles all the respective approach and departure surfaces that FAA and the airlines care about for each runway at Logan. It's purpose was to give developers a very good idea of how high they can go at a given location before someone is likely to raise and issue. It is really a fine piece of work, and any developer in or around this city who does not have it committed to memory is a fool (as it can save developers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by obviating the need for them to undertake a full study right out of the gate).


No Restriction

I'm not a pilot or engineer but it would seem as if the buildings being proposed wouldn't create a problem according to that map. Already planes don't approach from the city side.

Not just approaches at issue

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The issue downtown is departures from Runway 27. The Chiafaro site is probably sufficiently far to the right of centerline extended that it won't be an issue.

The bigger problems are down in the area of the Fed. Reserve Bank. That's why the 1000 ft. tower once proposed for Winthrop Sq. was going to be a tough one.

That's specifically the tower

That's specifically the tower I was thinking about, that, and I believe that (at one point) the on-again-off-again tower planned over South Station was deemed a hazard.

Thanks for the link to the map.

That's a hell of an article of faith (and a bad legal basis).

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Don't the Harbor Towers post-date the early 1960s? If so, how the hell does their own complex comply with their "article of faith"?

On the other hand, if Harbor Towers pre-dates that time, I would argue that their "article of faith" became such because of their buildings (Pei design or no Pei design - they are monstrosities that take far more away from the waterfront, not least because of their closer proximity, than the Chiofaro buildings would).

I know better than to trust artist's renderings, but in the one provided with this post, I find don't find the Chiofaro buildings offensive, but I do find the Harbor Towers so. But hell, I don't think that International Place is offensive, either (I like the different shape of the windows and the white outlines around them).


I don't like the windows in

I don't like the windows in International Place, but the overall form and massing of the building are pretty good to me.

I thought HT was contemporary with the plan for City Hall Plaza and the (I'm going to get the name wrong here, but I think you will know what I'm talking about,) Walk to the Harbor (or whatever it was called.)

Windows on International Place

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The ones on the lower section.. they look like the cheap 1980s picture windows from Somerville Lumber. You know, just about every home had built in the 1980s. It just looks cheaply done or someone got windows at a fire sale.

Harbor Towers is where the weird giant laptops are..

That's also the insanely dangerous part of Harborwalk when iced over. You'll end up in the water especially at night when drunk.

Looks like Ugly Neofunctional or lipstick on an indifferent bauhaus pig as if the developer figured, "I'm selling views... fuck the building."

I walked right by all that stuff but didn't bother to know what it was, just another sky dong.

I'm more drawn to charming tiny things.

Let's think about this carefully

"it has been customary and an article of faith that we do not build huge skyscrapers and excessive density on our waterfront"

-The people who live in what are apparently only moderately sized skyscrapers on our waterfront.

Have any of these people been to the seaport lately? ABG used to have one of the better views of the city from its back patio as far as casual food and drink establishments go, until a giant building was put up right next to it. And didn't we lose Anthony's Pier 4 to a soon to be built 20-something story tower?

Translation of original quote:

We were here first and paid an exorbitant amount of money for the right to think we're exclusive, and those of us not on the side with the ocean view don't want to lose our view of the city.


Harbor Towers

Boston City Hall's taller sisters don't own air rights. Sorry but its time for Don to build his building(s).


These people need to move to

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These people need to move to the suburbs. They have their walled off (on the atlantic side) buildings that are pretty close to as tall as the proposed towers and all they do is complain. When I worked at the aquarium, back when they had the sea lion show on the ship discovery, the harbor tower people hated the ship and the animals and used to throw rotten fruit at it.



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it has been customary and an article of faith that we do not build huge skyscrapers and excessive density on our waterfront


Customary: usual, traditional, established, conventional, routine...

Article of faith: an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence

In other words, it's how we've always done things, whether it made sense or not. Boston, let's never change!

Missing the point

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I think the real issue is that Mumbles is gone and Donnie wants his own twin towers on that parking garage space come Hell or high water. And with Mahtee chopping at the BRA, he just might get it.

Dandy Don and the Sixties

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I used to own a condo in Harbor Towers and as someone says above, it is a terrific place to live because you don't have to look at your own building.

The problem with Chiafaro's proposal is that the whole idea of a wall of buildings along the waterfront is a very Sixties idea. Harbor Towers was a redevelopment project to get middle class people to live in what was then a pretty scary part of town. It worked.

Rowe's Wharf brought a new model for development and made walls of towers obsolete, at least partly by recognizing that everyone in the city had a stake in buildings that were attractive and welcomed the public to the Waterfront. Rowe's Wharf made Harbor Towers and everything like it, built or to-be-built, seem not only old-fashioned but somehow socially irresponsible.

If Dandy Don planned a building on the scale of Rowe's Wharf that created the same kind of public gateway to its section of the waterfront, I would strongly favor it.

But development is a business in which many of da boys are playing "mine is bigger than yours ya ya ya" just like they were back in the 8th grade.

Height doesn't matter at the waterfront

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I can't see through Rowe's Wharf. Except for the part that's carved out of the middle. Just like what Chiafaro is proposing for his buildings.

Shave off 2 floors of Rowe's Wharf, or add 30. Same thing. Still can't see through them.

I can't see the harbor through the awful garage Chiafaro is trying to tear down, either.

The pedestrian experience is what counts.