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Developer says it will replace the old Shreve, Crump & Low building on Boylston Street - and this time, it really means it

Architect's rendering of 350 Boylston Street proposal

If you were a pigeon flying over the Public Garden, this is what you would see.

The Druker Co., which won city approval more than ten years ago to replace the old Shreve, Crump & Low building at Boylston and Arlington streets with a multi-faceted glass cube, then never did, has asked the BPDA to let it go ahead with the project.

In a filing today, the downtown-based developer asked the BPDA to let it carry out the plans the then BRA approved in 2009. Druker needs BPDA re-permission because it waited so long to do something its approval ran out. It will also need to get an extension from the Zoning Board of Appeal, because that board's approval ends in December.

Druker promises that it's already locked into actually starting 30 months of construction in the fall of 2020.

Druker says its plans remain basically the same - it wants to build a 9-story office with retail and office space and a 150-space parking garage, although it says it may extend what was originally planned to be just ground-floor retail and restaurant space to the second floor.

In a nod to the changing times, though, the company says it would add storage space for 66 bicycles - and showers for workers to use after pedaling into work. It also plans to beef up the building's energy-conservation systems over what was originally proposed.

In it's filing, the company said that it was unable to start construction the first time around due to "the difficulties with the financial markets in 2008 and subsequent years," which made finding both financing and tenants difficult. Now, of course, Boston is one of the hottest real-estate markets in the country, so that's no longer an issue, and the company says it's been able to "secure tenants and financial partners" for the new building.

350 Boylston St. notice of project change (23M PDF).

The view from Arlington Street in front of the Public Garden:

View of the new builing from Arlington Street

The current building (not taken at pigeon-eye view):

Current building that will be razed
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Comments

This is a crime. The Landmarks Commission and Boston Civic Design Commissions are a joke to allow this gem of a building to be destroyed for another generic shoe box straight out of a Route 128 office park. A broke affordable housing developer in Chinatown was able to save several less notable facades along Essex Street a few years back and Druker is crying poor about enough having enough money to save Shreves. Stop allowing Boston's history to be destroyed by greedy 1% assholes. Make them cough up the buck o' five to save the city's character!

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Voting closed 145

How did they ever approve that monstrosity for anywhere in Back Bay, let alone such a historic, high visibility corner on the Public Garden? Were we really that desperate for development? Are we still?

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Voting closed 118

Even worse.

Not much anyone can do. It's not in the historic district and a landmarking effort failed. Personally, i would have liked to see something that at least preserves the decorative cornice, but not happening.

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" Not much anyone can do."

That's what people said to me when I opposed the closing of the Colonial theater. If enough people stand up and make noise, the building will not be torn down. Show up to meetings, spread the word and fight back.

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I think the statement from Stephen Sondheim probably had a larger effect.

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" Not much anyone can do."

That's what people said to me when I opposed the closing of the Colonial theater. If enough people stand up and make noise, the building will not be torn down. Show up to meetings, spread the word and fight back.

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In a word, yes

City needs to grow revenue by 3% or so just to maintain staffing. Fees, fines and state aid barely grow with inflation. That means property taxes have to increase by about 5%. The city can only increase last year's take by 2.5%. That means the base has to grow by 2.5% off a bigger and bigger base every year. Like a shark that has to keep moving or die, the city must build, especially downtown where you get the most value.

Build or die. No choice unless we add an income tax. Good luck.

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Voting closed 7

Well we could always cut spending. That is a choice and would be the sensible thing to live within our means. But that would require firing do nothing paper pushers and no-shows in various departments no one has ever heard of. So instead the city will hold cops, teachers, firefighters, and EMTs hostage while demanding MOAR MOAR MOAR!

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So you are suggesting that the solution to keeping up with inflation that the City continuously cuts its budget every year to match? I bet you are the same person who then turns around and complains about pot holes and whatnot.

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or cut the bloat at city hall and the school department by 3- 5%

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Start charging for parking permits. Even 20-50$ per permit would be a massive influx of cash.

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We could cut spending and the bloat at city hall, as the previous 2 posters suggested

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People seem to forget that Boston is geographically TINY. We don't need to "develop" in the historical downtown sections. Within a mile or two from that building are plenty of areas that could be developed with things like this without razing classic buildings -- like the wholesale warehouses near BMC, vacant lots and industrial stuff all along Melnea Cass and sidestreets where they are in the process of some development, the Newmarket/South Bay area, etc. It makes much more sense to get rid of bland industrial buildings that don't belong in a city anyway, relocate those further out (and decrease semi trucks entering the city and flattening pedestrians and cyclists), and replace those areas with city-type development, walkable streets, mixed-use buildings, transit-oriented development, and so forth.

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For what it's worth, those areas are being developed and the City/State is pushing for their redevelopment.

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...at the intersection of South Station, right in front of the entrance, on both sides of Summer st. The city is leaving millions of dollars in double-parking and "no standing" fines on the table in that one spot alone each year. If anyone was interested I could provide a dozen more locations on my commute route alone.

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If you were a pigeon flying over the Public Garden, this is what you would see.

And as a pigeon I'd be sure to have a whole lot of Taco Bell before flying over it.

#crapitechture

really...who in their right mind (besides an accountant) thinks this is an improvement?

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Wouldn’t it be easier if we asked Mr and Mrs Mallard instead of those nasty pigeons?

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It's ugly and out of place, but there's no problem at the ZBA that can't be resolved with a preacher's handshake at the BPDA.

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Uuuuuuugleeeeeeee

It's ugly and out of place, but there's no problem at the ZBA that can't be resolved with a preacher's handshake at the BPDA.

Whoo--hooo! You said it, DapperO! Way to go!!

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Can't they at least leave the corner building and do a facadectomy or something, clean it up, and add a few levels. The other smaller ones aren't as nice so demolish them and make up for the FAR there.

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Such a lovely piece of architecture. Should have retained the original facade and built the unavoidable glass box above. Frustrations galore.

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As I recall from a decade ago, at least two things get in the way of declaring the existing building a landmark:

a) Although it was the longtime home of Shreve, Crump, and Low, it's not the company's original home (nor its current home)

b) The façade is not original, because the building was truncated several decades after it was built, to allow for extension of Arlington Street (which long ago ended at Boylston Street).

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Have to be fucking kidding me. I can't believe how fucking ugly that is. It literally looks like a fucking parking garage. We simply have got to find a 360 degree plan at the local level for preventing this bland bullshit

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allows the Shreve, Crump and Low building to be torn down it seals its fate as the most ineffective administration this city has seen.

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A decade ago.

By Menino.

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The developer is set to make oodles of money off this and city can and should insist on more than hideous glass box.

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They're going to replace this current building with an ugly, all-glass building? How stupid can they get? That is ludicrous!

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will open the entrances to Arlington Station at Berkeley Street during construction.

Since there were improvements to the Berkeley side of the infrastructure for when the Arlington Street entrance was closed for renovations and a new elevator a decade or so ago, perhaps this time they will allow it to remain open permanently.

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Needs elevators on that side of the station to reopen. That would cost millions and Druker is a miser.

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Timely issue-
Despite what the media reports related to the John Lynch ZBA scandal -if variances have expired, they can't legally be brought back to life. How many developers have gotten extensions for expired approvals? Should be part of the Walsh investigation.
Druker will have to reapply.

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I don't know about the BPDA process, but the developer still has active variances from the ZBA - they run out in December. Now, those variances have already been extended at least twice (maybe three times, I'd have to re-read the notice of project change linked above), but there's nothing that says the ZBA can't just keep extending an active variance.

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who was influential in extending the variance? Anyone that's been in the news lately perchance...?

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Why the hell do they have to build more all-glass buildings that they can't even keep the panes of glass from falling out of and possibly injuring and/or killing a person who just happens to be walking through there? Not withstanding the fact that it's ugly, someone could get hurt or possibly killed by falling glass. No joke.

That happened a great deal with the new John Hancock building, and it took them a long time to stop the mirrors from constantly falling out.

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It's been quite a few years since the glass was falling from the 200 Clarendon Street [formerly the John Hancock Tower] -- the building was completed and occupied in 1976. Construction had begun in 1968 and then was halted when the windows began falling shortly after they had all been installed about 1972.

I was an undergraduate at MIT during the majority of the time the window problem and the temporary solution of plywood panels were in effect. From my dorm on the other side of the Charles, you could occasionally see a falling window -- or rather a flying window. However, despite a lot of windows falling -- no one was ever hit by a flying window. The cause of the falling windows was eventually worked out and a new replacement window design developed and tested and then installed*1 -- to date it has worked.

On the other hand several people in Boston and Cambridge have recently been hit by falling masonry -- there is no easy systemic fix for that problem.

You can certainly argue that the presence of a glass box at that location is inappropriate -- but to condemn it because of the risk of falling glass --- have you been to Seaport Blvd. in South Boston in the past decade? Outside of the now 30 years old John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse [1999] whose harbor-side is a dramatic glass curtain wall while the Seaport Blvd side is masonry on a steel frame
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4f/2017_Moakley_U...
the historic Commonwealth Pier Headhouse [1901] the historic Fish Pier buildings [1914] both of which are reinforced concrete a with masonry exterior and the 3 buildings of Seaport Center constructed by Fidelity in the 1998-2000 [masonry cladding on a steel frame] -- everything is now clad in glass curtain wall.
for some examples

  1. Vertex Pharmaceuticals [2014]
    https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/20...
    https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/52cb2c35e4b0e40096e744a3/1...
  2. PWC [2015]
    https://www.usa.skanska.com/globalassets/externalcontent2/project/101-se...
  3. Boston Consulting Group -- Pier 4 [2018-2019]
    http://www.pier4boston.com/office/office-gallery.php
  4. PTC [2019]
    https://www.ptc.com/-/media/Images/Redesign/Blogs/121-seaport-at-night.j...
  5. Mass Mutual [under construction occupancy in 2021]
    https://www.connect.media/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Bos_MassMutual.jpg
    its the wavy one in the middle
  6. Amazon's new outpost [just broke ground for projected opening in 2022]
    https://d279m997dpfwgl.cloudfront.net/wp/2018/11/Boston_SeaPort_Amazon_T...

The above represent 3 generations of glass curtainwall buildings in the Seaport from finished and occupied to just under construction. These buildings are designed by a number of well-known architectural firms and constructed by well known general contractors and owned by well-known and well healed developers or investors with very well-known and successful tenants from diverse business sectors all with substantial reputations to protect -- No Concern of falling glass

If you don't like the idea of Drucker's Box -- use something other than falling glass as your argument -- I'd suggest -- "it still looks as if it was designed around 2008 -- how about something more current -- maybe something appropriate for the 3rd decade of the 21st C?"

*1 from the wiki article

There were problems with the innovative use of blue reflective glass in a steel tower: Entire 4′ × 11′, 500-lb (1.2 × 3.4 m, 227 kg) windowpanes detached from the building and crashed to the sidewalk hundreds of feet below. Police closed off surrounding streets whenever winds reached 45 mph (72 km/h). Under the direction of Frank H. Durgin of MIT's Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel a scale model of the entire Back Bay and an aeroelastic model of the John Hancock Tower were built and tested in the wind tunnel to identify the problem. The research raised questions about the structural integrity of the entire building (due to unanticipated twisting of the structure), but did not account for the loss of the glass panels. An independent laboratory eventually confirmed that the failure of the glass was due to oscillations and repeated thermal stresses caused by the expansion and contraction of the air between the inner and outer glass panels which formed each window; the resilient bonding between the inner glass, reflective material, and outer glass was so stiff that it was transmitting the force to the outer glass (instead of absorbing it), thus causing the glass to fail.*2

In October 1973, I.M. Pei & Partners announced that all 10,344 window panes would each be replaced by single pane, heat-treated panels at a total cost between $5 million and $7 million. Approximately 5,000 of the original glass panes were removed intact, and were later reused by artists.

*2
from When Bad Things Happen to Good Buildings
by Thomas A. Schwartz, PE, is president of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. in Arlington, Massachusetts. He was a principal investigator of the glass breakage at the John Hancock Tower and is a frequent lecturer and author on issues of building envelope performance.
http://www.architectureweek.com/2001/0425/building_3-2.html

Bostonians are familiar with one of the most famous examples: the John Hancock Tower, which was clad in more than an acre of plywood after its mirror-glass windows began to fracture in 1972 and 1973.

A "gag order" imposed on the parties to the resulting legal dispute prevented the release of the facts regarding the cause of the breakage, giving rise to many theories and myths, some of which exist to this day.

Initially, many design professionals thought the reason for the breakage lay in the fact that the tower swayed excessively in the wind. Although it was indeed swaying substantially, this was not the reason for the glass breakage.

Another hypothesis was that wind forces at "hot spots," which resulted from the rhomboid shape of the tower, caused over-stressing of the glass. Substantial "hot spots" did exist, but only a small percentage of the glass was subject to anything near the load for which it had been designed.

Still another myth was that the windows broke because of the stress they endured from the settlement of the tower's foundation.

The Devil in the Detail

But in fact, extraordinary external forces and the building's structural design were not the cause of the failure. The problem actually lay in the insulating glass itself.

The insulating-glass units that made up the facade were fabricated with a thin lead-tape spacer to separate the two panes of glass. The tape was soldered to the glass after the edge of the glass was coated with a film of copper to make it more receptive to the solder.

This created a tenacious bond between the spacer and the glass, which constituted the product's greatest strength as well as the source of its demise.

The lead-tape seal insulating unit was the premier product of the time. It was expensive, but it performed very well with relatively small sheets of clear glass, the typical application in the 1940s through the early 1960s that is still performing well.

However, by the late '60s, large sheets of glass with tints and reflective coatings became popular. The large sizes and increased thermal loads associated with the tints and coatings caused substantial differential movement and increased stress along the glass-to-tape bond, and eventually, the bond began to separate.

The bond, however, was so strong in some areas that the tape ripped microscopically small pieces of glass from the glass surface. These sites concentrated stress from wind loads and ultimately proved catastrophic.

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Voting closed 5

Used to work there with Karmaloop; great building to view from the outside, but it is literally and figuratively falling apart from the inside.
Shame it couldn’t be gutted to save the Art Deco architectural integrity. Regardless, lots of great memories at ol’ 330 Boylston, and I’m almost positive there are boxes of streetwear and ghosts of parties past still living on the upper floors, haha.

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just in time for the NEXT financial crisis. By the time their monstrosity id finished there will be no one with the money to move in. This is A+ tomfoolery right here....

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...we get stuck with a hole in the grounds for years.

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And the real crime is we're not building even taller (or focused on actual quality of life issues).

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WE MUST do Something....IF Jackie O could save Grand Central we can save Shreve's....Let us get together...NOW!!! Save our Heritage!!!

http://www.nypap.org/preservation-history/jacqueline-kennedy-onassis/

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