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Old 04-28-2015, 08:44 PM   #1
statler
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Why is Boston So Ugly?

Ok, which one of you fuckers is Rachel Slade?

Quote:
Why Is Boston So Ugly?
How we built the most mediocre architecture in history, and how we’re going to fix it.

By Rachel Slade | Boston Home | May 2015

Thirty Dalton Street, a slim residential tower being built at the corner of Dalton and Belvidere in the Back Bay, is destined to rise 26 stories on a sliver of land just behind the Christian Science Plaza. It announced itself one day last fall, when a tiny piece of the future tower was erected on the site, made of that bluish reflective glass you see on literally every façade in Boston—the kind that unfortunate birds mistake for sky—and standard-issue metal panels, probably labeled “pewter” on the office sample. Formless, indistinct, ugly: another Boston skyscraper inspired by a Holiday Inn in Topeka.
Continued...
http://www.bostonmagazine.com/proper...-architecture/
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:05 AM   #2
Matthew
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

The last time Boston got "exciting architecture" we ended up with the brutalist horror that is City Hall. No thanks.

By the way, Rachel Slade's examples of so-called "good" buildings include two Asian towers-in-the-park created by obviously egotistical architects. That's the very last thing we need. Seems to me that people like Slade are the problem with architecture, and the reason why the rest of us are sick of it.
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Old 04-29-2015, 01:16 AM   #3
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

Someone finally put it into words. Thank you, Ms. Slade. I believe you have it exactly right. Robert Campbell offered much of the same, if more restrained, not long ago. Hopefully, people will listen.

This is not an argument for star-architecture. Not every building has be photo-ready. But the city deserves real design. What we get is barely more than rentable space. Our buildings seem more like the shipping crates the real buildings were meant to arrive in.

Mr. Shen is polite and well-meaning. It's not enough. He needs to go.

For the good of the city.
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Old 04-29-2015, 03:41 AM   #4
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

tldr. Get over yourself.
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Old 04-29-2015, 06:14 AM   #5
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

Really Van?

She just reiterates the same arguments that quite a few people here have been making since day one. I'll admit that she not quite as eloquent as Campbell but I think she is still on point.

And Matthew are you really happy with the architecture the city has been putting up over the last few decades? Not everything has to starchitect stuff but don't you think the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction?
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Old 04-29-2015, 06:29 AM   #6
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

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She just reiterates the same arguments that quite a few people here have been making since day one.
It's no less cringe-worthy when it's on here. But hey, if you want to slam an entire city for a handful of towers that you don't personally like, have at it Rachel Slade.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:04 AM   #7
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

I don't think of Boston's architecture as ugly at all... we've had a few bad buildings (Waterside..., Suffolk's new monstrosity) but overall I think the construction has been positive.

On the other hand i'm still in the "I don't give a shit how the building looks as long as the street-level is human scaled and active" crowd.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:26 AM   #8
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

Most of the highrises built lately tend more towards uninspired and/or boring not necessarily ugly i.e. Avalonbay, Archstone, Radian, Avalon Exeter, fan pier buildings, 101 seaport, most of the 300 foot towers fall in this category.

The issue I think is that Boston is lacking somewhat in unusual and very high quality towers that are more contemporary and I am hoping that the Gov't Center Garage, North Station, Four Seasons, Millennium Tower, and other new developments help counter that.

The problem with boring and overly similar designs which Boston does get a lot of designs that are riffs on other boring but not ugly buildings is it causes a numbing/dulling effect. I think it is similar to the difference between these row houses
and these row houses

Technically the same type of building but one version looks boring and the other looks interesting and well designed.

I do however agree that ground floor activation is the most important thing; however, many of these buildings fail at both activation and good design.
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:30 AM   #9
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

I didn't realize there were so many fans of the mediocre. Huh.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:04 AM   #10
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

I agree with a lot of what she says. I think most everyone here would say that Shen needs to go. I think most everyone here would agree Boston needs more iconic contemporary buildings.

However,

Quote:
Real planners don’t put their office parks on the waterfront. That’s where people want to live—above the marinas, so they can sip their lattes while gazing out across the harbor at the sailboats and yachts. The best cities herd their workaday office buildings into the hinterlands, with good access via public transportation. Paris has its own office park, La Défense. Yes, it’s miserable, but it’s not blocking anyone’s views of Notre Dame.
This is a terrible suggestion. Sure, I'd prefer the buildings directly on the water to be residential, but offices should be nearby. Mixed use is a lesson well learned. Let's not go back to overly planned business and residential districts.

Also, as Matthew stated, a number of her "good" buildings are awful. Further, using Philadelphia as an example is puzzling. Yes, there are a few decent towers going up, but the majority of the new construction in Philly is far worse than anything going up in Boston.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:07 AM   #11
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

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Shen himself may be part of the problem. He’s the one guy who’s been monitoring architecture from the start, and the results speak for themselves. When I asked him what he thought about the deeply depressing design of 30 Dalton Street, he asked me if I was aware that the façade curved.
I mean.... c'mon.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:27 AM   #12
jdrinboston
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

"When I asked him what he thought about the deeply depressing design of 30 Dalton Street..."

If the question was indeed posted that way, isn't that sort of the architectural equivalent of asking someone "So when did you stop beating your wife?"
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:35 AM   #13
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

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Originally Posted by jdrinboston View Post
"When I asked him what he thought about the deeply depressing design of 30 Dalton Street..."

If the question was indeed posted that way, isn't that sort of the architectural equivalent of asking someone "So when did you stop beating your wife?"
It is possible that she simply asked him about "the design" of 30 Dalton and she is interjecting her own opinions into her account of what happened. Regardless, it's bad journalism.

It's like asking someone "what happened?" and then he tells you a terrifying story. You might then go say to your friends "he told me his terrifying account" when you really only asked "what happened."
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:46 AM   #14
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

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Originally Posted by datadyne007 View Post
It is possible that she simply asked him about "the design" of 30 Dalton and she is interjecting her own opinions into her account of what happened. Regardless, it's bad journalism.

It's like asking someone "what happened?" and then he tells you a terrifying story. You might then go say to your friends "he told me his terrifying account" when you really only asked "what happened."
I suspect you're right. The question probably went something like "Can you tell me about some of the features on 30 Dalton that you like." To which he probably rattled off a few of things, including the facade.

If she asked the question as depicted in the article, it's obnoxious and arrogant. If she asked it in a manner similar to how I depicted it, it's just plain deceptive. Calls her methods and conclusions into question.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:50 AM   #15
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

I took it as "I find the design of 30 Dalton bland, can you defend it?" and he put up a really, really weak defense.

This article is a polemic. It was clearly intended to be written as a polemic. I'm not sure why people are attacking it as such.
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:08 PM   #16
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

Cost; NIMBYism; tradition; fear; using local architects instead of well-known, national or worldly; ambivalence.

There, I saved 600 words.
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:11 PM   #17
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

But she does mention local architects have done good work just not in Boston.
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:14 PM   #18
statler
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

Why is cost higher here than other regions?
Why is NIMBYism so powerful here?
Why is tradition so revered here?
What are we afraid of?
Why don't people care about the built environment here?
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:16 PM   #19
Matthew
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel Slade
Real planners don’t put their office parks on the waterfront. That’s where people want to live—above the marinas, so they can sip their lattes while gazing out across the harbor at the sailboats and yachts. The best cities herd their workaday office buildings into the hinterlands, with good access via public transportation. Paris has its own office park, La Défense. Yes, it’s miserable, but it’s not blocking anyone’s views of Notre Dame.
Whoa, missed this line. That's a doozy. I can't resist, must break it down:

La Défense only exists because of Paris' height restrictions. Its existence is one of the strongest arguments against height restrictions. Just because the French run an awesome rapid regional rail system that makes La Défense tolerable doesn't excuse it; just mitigates it.

Furthermore: "That’s where people want to live—above the marinas, so they can sip their lattes while gazing out across the harbor at the sailboats and yachts." Wow! Anything for the people rich enough to afford "sipping lattes while gazing out across the harbor" from their homes, right? Fifty years ago, "where [rich] people wanted to live" was out in the hinterlands. And that's why office buildings moved out to the suburbs, to be close to the CEO's home and golf course. Which was a terrible burden on regular working folks in the city, when all the public transit was focused on getting them downtown.

Funny how things change.
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Old 04-29-2015, 12:18 PM   #20
Matthew
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Re: Why is Boston So Ugly?

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Originally Posted by statler View Post
Why is cost higher here than other regions?
Why is NIMBYism so powerful here?
Why is tradition so revered here?
What are we afraid of?
Why don't people care about the built environment here?
I find that many NIMBYs that I know are the ones complaining the loudest about the poor quality of the architecture. While raising the costs so much that everything gets value engineered.

But I do suspect that what these NIMBYs think of as "good architecture" many of you probably hate.
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