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New downtown skyscraper would add swoops to Boston skyline

Swoopy skyscraper as seen from Boston's Public Garden

What the building might look like from the Arlington Street side of the Public Garden.

Proposed downtown tower

The New York developer that has been figuring out how to put a skyscraper at the intersection of Washington and Bromfield streets last week released a series of renderings of a building that would rise higher than the Millennium Tower and have a series of rooftop gardens and possibly solar panels.

Midwood Investment and Development is proposing a 59-story, 683-foot-tall building with 300 apartments - 54 affordable - topped by 119 condos. The residential units would sit on a five-story base that would include ground-floor retail and a garage for 235 cars and 420 bicycles.

The roof of the building's base would be covered in landscaping, both to look nice and to help collect rainwater - which would be stored to water the plants.

The roof of the tower would be angled towards the south to allow for possible future solar panels.

Softness distinguishes the tower from more rectilinear geometry in the skyline, yet connects with the city through use of warm material and scaled articulations.

Also, the building's shape and location among other downtown towers:

Reinforces and holds the pivot point or "elbow" defined by Boston Common and Granary Burying Ground.

Midwood first proposed a smaller building for the site, back in 2008: A 28-story building with 200 apartments.

Before and after at Washington and Bromfield:

Washington and Bromfield proposal

Before and after along Bromfield:

Washington and Bromfield proposal

Design renderings (7.9M PDF).

Neighborhoods: 
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Comments

I'm not one of these "no parking nowhere ever" people, but in this case, why is there any parking at all? The building faces a pedestrian mall. It's on top of Downtown Crossing. If people want parking, there are dozens of garages within a stone's throw. Will they really be unable to sell any of these units without a personalized Mitt-Romney-esque car elevator or something?

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Pretty standard to have in-building parking in high-rises in cities... especially in cold climates. Really there's no reason not to have parking for a building that large.

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The parking garage entrance is on Bromfield Street, which is pedestrian only, so it is impossible for anyone to park at this garage unless the city is planning on taking back pedestrian-only space.

This building really should not have been designed with parking in mind, and probably wouldn't if the city would ever get around to ditching parking minimums.

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Bromfield has traffic between Tremont & Province--I used to work on Bromfield. Car/garage access for this building (and all buildings on this block) is via Province St or the alleyways off Province St, and is how we got deliveries. Cars would either exit left on Province to Bromfield (one-way to Tremont) or exit right to School (one-way to Washington, where the legal traffic on Washington starts back up).

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Broomfield has traffic from Washington to Tremont. And that building is going to tower over mine on the Tremont end. At least it's unlikely anyone will try to put a skyscraper over the boneyard across the street!

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Maybe I'll buy a place and become the DoCro Yuppie.

...nah, my neighbors would miss me too much.

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Downtown crossing high rises are for a different breed than you.

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Romney-esque car elevator? Romney was the governor who got driven around in a Crown Vic. It was the other guy who got a Cadillac.

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Huh? A car elevator has nothing to do with what he drives; it's something he had or was having put in his modest little oceanfront house in La Jolla

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Someone who has the means built something to make his/her life easier. What an asshole.

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New York developers are quickly taking over Downtown Crossing with all these old historic buildings such as the Filenes building being saved and adding 60 stories above it, old euro nightclub turning into luxury condos, this area is becoming the next high end hip area of Boston.

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Hahaha multi millionaires not owning cars! Thats a good one man! Lol the hoa fees will be more than most mortgage payments

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We're getting a helipad! And while we're building it because we wuv GE so, so much, it's going to be a public helipad, open to any Master of the Universe.

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I used to work in an office on that corner above Payless many years ago. The block’s one of those odd patchworks of smaller buildings glued together. I walked by the other day and a couple of the storefronts on the Washington side were vacant (and have been for awhile). Not sure if it’s part of this property, but the middle of Bromfield is the recently-vacated City Sports, although next to this is the long-time Bromfield Pen Shop--still there for now.

Most of Washington St is now filling-back-in—the main holdout is the old Barnes & Noble location that’s been empty for like a decade. Being right across from the Millennium Tower, I’m surprised it hasn’t been snapped-up yet, unless that's being saved for something bigger too.

Edit: Just looked at the PDF--I guess the property goes all the way back to Province St, consuming even Sam LaGrassa's.

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I don't have the patience to plow through the BRA PDF, but in Adam's before and after it appears that the building is still there.

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This is for a future construction that hasn’t been approved yet. I was talking about its getting closed-down in the future for the construction.

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I looked at the documents. The LaGrassa building survives this round, but I don't know if they close the business because of the construction, as someone else here says.

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Was there some ordinance passed that requires that all towers look like some sort of personal grooming equipment?

I'm wondering what the toothbrush heads for this will look like.

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there is no requirement that any new building looks like grooming equipment, only that it must be void of any charm and must contain at least 95% glass.

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But I think it looks more like a vacuum cleaner attachment.

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Great minds think alike.

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because the Gherkin Building looks like a piece of personal pleasuring equipment.

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So it's going to knock out a lot of useful retail and replace it with a spaceship that mainly features a driveway.

Back to the drawing board. Unless the BRA is really attached to the notion of turning DTX into a typical, sterile American downtown that most people flee at 5 pm.

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How does building housing (including 54 affordable units) contribute to a downtown that people flee at 5PM. Doesn't building housing in this location do the exact opposite?

This is a typical Masshole comment. Don't ever do anytthing or allow anyone else to do anything. Then grumble that nothing ever changes.

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Buildings in this location have to have multiple uses that fully take advantage of the amazing location, practically at the center of the MBTA universe, with loads of foot traffic. Housing does not provide enough value by itself, and the proposed frontage does not look inspiring.

Bromfield is a nice street. One of the few old school-style Boston streets left that survived the horrors of urban renewal and/or 20th century street-widening foolishness. It doesn't deserve to be treated like the back end of a building, and there's already plenty of shops there. If anything, the DTX pedestrian zone should be extended up Bromfield.

I'm all for building housing here, but it's got to feature other, intensive uses at the lower floors. Not a yawning, cavernous driveway that will just be an dead space to people walking on Bromfield, spitting out the occasional car to make things worse.

I'm also concerned about opportunities for small retail shops. These massive new buildings are only going to be affordable to commercial tenants with big pockets, like national franchises. There's a place for that, certainly, but we need some old buildings that are still within reach of the little guy.

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Plenty of spaces for small retail shops already on Bromfield, Province and Washington Streets, but they're still vacant.

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The street level design for this building on Bromfield is terrible. I also worry that it is going to increase car traffic on what are pedestrian zones on Washington and the first block of Bromfield. I got honked at just last week for walking in the pedestrian zone on Washington. We can't have 3 damn blocks for pedestrians in this city.

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and you lived to tell about it? It's a DTX miracle.

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"It doesn't deserve to be treated like the back end of a building"

Unfortunately, the Tremont side of Bromfield is already treated like the back end of a building. The blank side of that huge Suffolk building. It was supposed to revitalize Tremont (which it didn't really do), but it does nothing for Bromfield but lessen the former quaint charm of the street. If this plan goes into effect, both ends of Bromfield will now be blank walls.

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If you don't like this state, transplant, that has more hIstory and a better educated populace than most other parts of the country, you are free to move to many other locations that don't value interesting buildings, history, and architecture. The region is distinctive and desirable because the locals don't want it to look like so many other boring parts of the country, that many people are now leaving to find jobs, education, and real character and culture here.

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Anti-democratic, much?

Why do you hate America?

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People are free to try move to areas that they like more, if they don't like all the things this region offers.

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And if you don't like people moving to Boston and wanting to participate in the community processes of shaping their environment, then move yourself.

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The Bromfield side went from 'interesting' to being nothing more than a glorified car port.

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you haven't been to that corner in a while, have you? its a payless shoes and a bunch of empty store fronts. the children's place clothing store and at&t super store have been closed for over a year, and city sports for almost half a year. all the smaller storefronts have been closed for a long time. the buildings are in disrepair and need to be redeveloped.

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I'm sold

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It looks very early 2000's Dubai, which makes sense given Boston architecture seems to lag behind the rest of the world by a few decades. Regardless, it's still better than empty storefronts and Payless

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Never mind all the interesting historic architecture we have here that you can't easily find elsewhere. We should preserve as much of that as possible.

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I like Bromfield the way it is now.

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Bromfield sucks now and has the most empty store space anywhere in DTX. While we're at the owners of the other building where Barracuda is plan on doing something there too so get ready for lots of construction.

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Lots of comments on this thread about empty store fronts. I believe that is probably the result of a conscious decision of the land owner who would rather not invest in fixing up a space for a tenant (and dealing with leases and maintenance - downside = no income) with the idea that the space will be easier to demolish and put in a "personal grooming equipment/parking garage entrance" when the time comes to cash out in a big way.

Side benefit is you get to talk about how nothing is happening on that space anyways, so let me put in my towering personal grooming equipment/parking garage entrance because it's the ONLY thing that would be "financially feasible." Or better yet, you get people on the Internet to do that for you for free.

Or maybe there really is NO business that thinks they could make any money downtown, at a moment that is an economic high water mark for the city.

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All those storefronts have "Retail Space Available" signs in the windows.

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are they all owned by the same landlord? In that case the original argument might hold (some) water.

The alternative is that the ONLY way a business will survive down there is if there are 60 - 80 stories of condos (and parking and some commercial) above them. I just find that hard to believe. Yeah, if you spend tens of millions of speculative dollars on the property, then just plopping a tie shop and a Panera's in the existing schlub of a building probably won't cut it for you. But for current owners, are they really incapable of finding ANYONE to fill those spaces or are they waiting for someone to speculate on the property and buy it under conditions that predicate a 60 - 80 story glass dildo of luxury condos for... dildos?

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people like to maximize their investments. renting a small shop to some 'unique' store that will be blown out of the water by macys/amazon/zappos/ebay is not the best use to get maximum revenue in the long term.

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We should probably tear down everything 3 stories or under, put up a sea of soaring glass dildos and fill the first floors with parking garages and mall stores and luxury condos for the remaining 75 stories. #hyperboleRocks!

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The South side is almost all owned by Ron Druker. and is almost all empty and for lease. Hmmm. I wonder why nothing ever lasts there. Coincidentally, he also owns the Corner Mall. The only half empty food court in the country.

Probably because people don't eat.

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Eating is really now out of fashion. Downright jejune. I understand that all the cool people are starving themselves to death. I'm hoping it's a fad that will really catch on with the current crop of "foodies."

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It won't be out of place and it isn't hideous. The parking is not entirely unreasonable seeing as some people have to drive and the spaces will likely be used by non-residents anyway.

All I'd ask of the city is they figure out a way of preventing another hole should construction start and the economy tank in a year.

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Looks like the HQ of Stark Industries, or the Fantastic 4.

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Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone!

Joking aside, the design reminds me of a saguaro cactus - it's like the Hilltop Steakhouse sign went on a steroid binge, took a trip down Rt. 1 (with accompanying 'roid/road rage and massholiness), and landed in downtown Boston.

On the parking issue, I will only say that there is no way that a building like this gets built with no parking. (Much) less than one space per unit, perhaps, but there is no way there will be no parking. Also, hasn't there been a lot of talk from respectable urban planner types that the "pedestrian mall" idea at DTX has actually contributed to its recent downturn? I seem to remember some discussion somewhere about making cars and pedestrians actually mingle in the footprint of the public way (i.e., no curbs) as a way to bring more "life" back to the area (and provide for better driving with fewer sign congestion). Don't have time to look now, but I definitely remember this from somewhere (perhaps either UHub or City Lab).

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...but I use a fountain pen & will miss the pen shop if it can't find a new home. I am a board-certified lefthanded klutz & have dropped pens more than I care to admit. They have always been able to repair the damage there, accounting for my "sinister" writing habits in the process. And if you get a new pen, they can loosen the point shortening the breaking-in period. Also, if I'm looking sat the artist's renderings correctly, it looks like the Boston Casualty Company building will remain. If I remember correctly, that building was once Washingtonian Hall and has historical significance, not least for being the site of one of Lincoln's speeches when he visited Boston campaigning for Zachary Taylor. Plus, it just looks interesting.

As for the new building, I like the way the street level floors will anchor and brighten up that corner. The high rise itself looks interesting too even if it is somewhat gherkinesque. Being set back as it is it won't be intrusive on the scale of the other buildings in the area or sightlines. My big concern would be its effect on wind both on its own & in tandem with the new building on the Filene's site across the way.

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Writing left handed with a fountain pen is usually a terrible time due to the smudging problem as the pen hand moves over the still freshly written letters.

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parallel to the lines on the paper instead of perpendicular :-)

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When sea levels rise sinking the city. Does it have boat access?

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I would like to see them keeping the current facades, like a bunch of other downtown towers. Makes a much more interesting street.

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The tower is fine and welcome but the podium is awful. The building that currently holds the Payless store needs to be preserved even if it is just a facadectomy. I would prefer to save the other three facades as well, even though they are currently in a state of disrepair. They should be extended 4-5 floors to match the Payless building.

All the said, the carport on Bromfield HAS TO BE KILLED. Opening a gaping hole in what is currently a complete streetwall for exclusive use of automobiles is 50's urban planning at it worst.

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The design of the tower itself is fine by me, but the street level design is horrible. It is more of a barrier between the street and the interior space than an addition to the existing street-scape, and what is marked as "residential entrance" on the design drawing actually appears to be the parking garage entrance. It reminds me of the Hyatt in downtown crossing, which is one of the least street-friendly buildings in the city. It also looks as though the parking garage could be on the above-ground floors? That seems like a horrible idea. It looks like the buildings on Providence Place, including the one in which Sam's is located, will be all that remain of that entire block. Hopefully, the BRA will require a re-design of this lower part of the building before allowing a variance for the tower.

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They really should try to keep the current facades to make the street level look more interesting rather than some city without real history from another part of the country.

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Pretty!

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