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Old 04-24-2007, 03:40 PM   #41
Beton Brut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen
If they really wanted to keep the feel, couldn't they just build new (tall) buildings that had a Chinese look to them with East Asian design elements?
Interesting thought, van -- Strangely, this proposal's form shares a strong kinship with the work of one of Asia's finest contemporary architects, Dr. Ken Yeang...Yeang is ethnically Chinese, but most of his work is in Malaysia...He's the spiritual heir to Paul Rudolph, and his primary focus is green building (many projects feature movable bris soleil, large vertical interior gardens, permeable building envelopes, passive HVAC, gray-water recycling, etc)...Brilliant guy -- for information on his concepts for bioclimatic skyscrapers, check out: http://www.ellipsis.com/yeang/text.html

For the record, I really love this design -- too bad it's not a thousand-footer for Winthrop Square (it would even work to incorporate the little Rudolph building into this design)...

For more on Ken Yeang see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Yeang

http://www.trhamzahyeang.com/

http://www.llewelyn-davies-ltd.com/
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Old 04-24-2007, 03:54 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nico
This isn't EPCOT, its a US city.
Sometimes I just don't know. Times Sq is DisneyLand.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:06 PM   #43
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I'm trying to fit in a Small World joke...but I just can't get it to work.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:19 PM   #44
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I'm not for increasing height limits in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the North End, the South End, or Bay Village. Increasing the limits would give property owners a strong incentive to tear down the existing, fully functional, human-scaled buildings that now characterize these districts.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:28 PM   #45
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I don't understand why we have to preserve any one ethnicity in a neighborhood.
I'm in total agreement.

Quote:
This isn't EPCOT, its a US city
Right, and Chinatown is currently anything but EPCOT, whereas the North End just might be. Tourists and suburbanites still go there b/c its the "Italian neighborhood" even though 80% of the housing units are occupied by yuppies. If the commercial scene in the North End was authentic rather than contrived, there would probably be at least one sushi, one Thai, and one Indian restaurant on Hanover, a bookstore, and a Gap. Instead they've gone for a Disneyfied Italian village. That's fine, and I actually prefer it that way, but I'm not sure why Chinatown remaining an authentic ethnic neighborhood is EPCOT, but what's happened in the North End isn't.

Again, that being said, I'm in favor of high rises in Chinatown and would not wish to hold back the urban winds of change. Just suggesting that Chinatown might be something to appreciate as it is today as it might be the last of a dying breed in central Boston.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:43 PM   #46
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Chinatown is a chaotic mess without any formal order. Beacon Hill, Bay Village and the North End deserve to be preserved forever because they're formally harmonious wholes with uniform scale, consistent increments of development and stylistic tone.

You can recognize a sour note in the context of Beacon Hill. I wouldn't know how to do this in Chinatown, the original fabric of which is so frayed and inconsequential that it just might be the sour note itself.

The Chinatown that could emerge there if the NIMBYs weren't such obstructionists might be Causeway Bay, Aberdeen or Kowloon --all of which have admirable character and consistency.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:46 PM   #47
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I'm also for the raising of the height limits in Chinatown but only if its reasonable. Some areas SHOULD NOT be raised especially along Milk St. and the area around there. Why? The roads and streets there are too narrow to support extra traffic that normally comes with high rises. Second the tower should include affordable housing and not just condos. Third, just like this building, it should be built on buildings that are not in use such as the Gaiety. If all they are going to do is stand there, then it is a waste of space. As for the whole thing about the city not being obligated to salvage a part of a city, I'm against it. Regardless of it being ethnicity and what not, if you guys think this is how it should work then what you are asking is pretty much a 2nd urban renewal. If you want the city to grow, fine, but changing the entire city and pretty much demolishing all its existing buildings for highrise is the exact same thing that happened to the West End. Are you sure you want that to happen again?
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:57 PM   #48
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Chinatown is a chaotic mess without any formal order
As far as a structural order, yes. But socially it might have all of the others beat.

The outsiders who "saved" the West End were unable to appreciate either its structural or its social order, and we're left neither.

In Chinatown, the locals are much more interested in the latter, I'm sure. How long will they succeed in preserving it--who knows? Does it even deserve to be saved--I'm sure those living there would say so.
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Old 04-24-2007, 04:57 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman
I'm not for increasing height limits in Beacon Hill, Back Bay, the North End, the South End, or Bay Village. Increasing the limits would give property owners a strong incentive to tear down the existing, fully functional, human-scaled buildings that now characterize these districts.
Ron, you're too smart to make such a broad assumption...What property owners are you referring to? Surely not residential property owners...Any "perceived threats" to the South End or Bay Village are on the fringes of those communities (i.e. Columbus Center), and offer significant improvements to the fabric of the neighborhood....

And height and human scale are not mutually exclusive -- consider Brookline's Longwood Towers, built in a tree-lined residential neighborhood. Would a development of this scale on a parking lot on Harrison Ave or Beacon Street ruin the neighborhood?
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Old 04-24-2007, 08:23 PM   #50
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ablarc -- for once i can't agree with you. i don't know about all three of the places you used for comparison, but I do know something about Chinese cities (i've lived in Hangzhou and Taichung, and know Shanghai and Taibei circa 1991 fairly well, as well as others to a lesser degree).

I don't think Boston's Chinatown is anything like any of the great Chinese cities I've seen structurally. however, it does have something in addition to the social fabric belmont square points to: it has the character and form of chinese commerce, mainland, taiwanese and expat.

the character of a place isn't exactly its social order or its physical structures -- though those are both components. the risks of not assessing the impact on a neighborhood's character are real, imho. it's not the building that's the risk, its how it gets built and used, and by who.

the unfortunate part about our Chinatown is that it is a great landing pad, but doesn't retain its people very well -- some stay, but generationally most seem to go. (i'm basing this on my understanding from years back when i had a lot to do with the Chinese community in Boston and elsewhere -- maybe i'm wrong, but, among other things, i've helped resettle two asian families in Chinatown and ~20 years later they are both now two or three successful generations all living in the suburbs, to Chinatown's disadvantage).

at the same time, i doubt most bostonians think of Chinatown much, except as a place to get an occasional dim sum or as a cultural icon that sits on the conceptual shelf of Boston -- i.e. Chinatown? yeah, we've got one of those. but if that's all we want we could point equally well to the Little Chinatown in Wollaston.

the combination of these twin perspectives is not great for launching / building a neighborhood that rivals San Fran's Chinatown, or the market districts of Taichung. but that's not a reason to wash our hands of the place or continue to under invest in it.

also, nico, a very large proportion of inner city residents do not avoid Chinatown. when i lived on beacon hill in the early 90s and took Chinese classes in a hole in the wall cultural center in Chinatown it was always bustling and never especially dangerous. Didn't always smell nice, but it had great flavor (kind of like chou dofu...) It definitely was not as much the edge of the red light zone that it had been in the early eighties. In fact, about the same time my wife used to walk home from an Emerson internship there after dark and we didn't worry about it too much.

i'd like to see the building built, fwiw, but it would be nice to see more neighborhood capital investing in and owning projects like these, as well as improving (or at least layering) on what is already there...
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Old 04-24-2007, 09:32 PM   #51
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The thing that strikes me is that the residents of Chinatown don't seem to have a plan for the future of their neighborhood, rather just opposing everything that gets proposed. If they got together and said to the city "We understand the city needs to grow and we have this plan that would allow such growth by improving Chinatown" I think all parties would get what they want in the end.

I don't blame them for fighting to save their neighborhood but the sooner they all realize that the city needs to grow, and the only place to grow is UP, then the sooner they can use the power of their community to improve the neighborhood rather than just fight the inevitable.
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Old 04-24-2007, 09:40 PM   #52
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Sorry to interject here, but I took this today and want to put it up today before I forget about it..

the backside (future frontside?) of the existing Dainty Dot facing onto the Greenway
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Old 04-25-2007, 12:12 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen
I don't blame them for fighting to save their neighborhood but the sooner they all realize that the city needs to grow, and the only place to grow is UP, then the sooner they can use the power of their community to improve the neighborhood rather than just fight the inevitable.
the city doesn't need to grow. it either is growing or it isn't -- it's economic, not because it wants to. (not that i don't know what you mean).

but listen to how it comes across. if you said the same about beacon hill, or Lincoln (where i am now -- lots of nimbys...) you'd get an ear full in return, right?

besides the city has been shrinking for 40-odd years or more in terms of population... the way to reverse that isn't just by slapping down even beautiful buildings.

again, my 2 cents, the problem isn't the building or the type of building. the problem is capital formation from within the community. and that requires residents who stick around, are upwardly mobile, and have the wherewithal to economically direct / impact their area. not easy given where the neighborhood is at in terms of population and location vis the financial district.

how would you, if you were Tommy, push Chinatown into the 21st century?

heres a small idea. how about putting some serious media and financial focus on good development -- an X Prize for boston architecture. targets and awards for design, function, and fabric building...
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Old 04-25-2007, 12:46 AM   #54
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I understand what you are saying, singbat. Like I said, I think there needs to be a master plan of Chinatown that can be agreed upon by (most of) the community. They can build condos but that doesn't mean they are building a community.

The Chinatown residents don't resent growth, they resent an influx of people who don't care that there is a neighborhood, YUPies, students, etc.

I think I can safely say that no one here lives in Chinatown (at least no one who posts) so none of us are personally affected. We want to see great new buildings being built and development in the city but because we are not affected personally, we can't understand. It's like being a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan. We can all talk like we know what is going on and what should be done but none of are over there so our voices don't mean jack shit 'cause we don't really know.

I go back to my original argument, there needs to be a plan. The city should have gone to the residents in the first place and worked as an intermediary between them and the developers. What we actually have is the development authority of the city (which is accountable to no one) working on the side of the developers and not giving a thought about the actually people.

New York City has recently released a series of master plans for Long Island City, Queens and Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Brooklyn which allow for growth but also require services for the community like parks and schools. They are also working on master plans for dozens of neighborhoods in the city. Where is this in Boston?

I'm sure most of these "NIMBYs" would not make a stink if they knew there was a plan being implemented that they had a say in.
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Old 04-25-2007, 11:02 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kz1000ps
Sorry to interject here, but I took this today and want to put it up today before I forget about it..

the backside (future frontside?) of the existing Dainty Dot facing onto the Greenway
Maybe we shouldn't build the tower, that building fully utilizes everything on the Greenway, seriously, just look at those billboards! Perfect compliment to what is the best park on the Greenway. Especially with that pair of huge blank brick walls.
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Old 04-25-2007, 12:38 PM   #56
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I have no particular opinion for or against this project, but wouldn't an 8-story building fit into that environment just fine?
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Old 04-25-2007, 02:14 PM   #57
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"the city doesn't need to grow. it either is growing or it isn't -- it's economic, not because it wants to. " -singbat

These guys wouldn't be trying to do this if it wasn't economical, and you can definitely take action that would enable a city to grow just as action or inaction can cause a city to shrink. Create more desirable living spaces and people with money won't leave for the suburbs. Create more affordable housing and people won't leave for cheaper cities.

You said yourself that people don't stay in Chinatown. I've worked in Chinatown for years, and I would never live in Chinatown as it is now. You are enamored by the area, but you lived on Beacon Hill.

This should be a no brainer...who does this hurt? I'm going out for a late lunch and I'm gonna take pole of people in the "neighborhood." Interested to see how many people's lives would be destroyed by erecting a beautiful building that would enhance the beauty of the area, and add affordable housing in a dilapidated building across the street from a high-rise.
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Old 04-25-2007, 03:55 PM   #58
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I'm sure most of these "NIMBYs" would not make a stink if they knew there was a plan being implemented that they had a say in.

Vanshnookenraggen, how you can say this? Take Columbus Center as an example, after hundreds of community meetings the South End is still divided from the Back Bay by an open turnpike. NIMBY's fought and fought one of the best development plans the city has ever had. No matter what concessions Winn allowed, no matter what he agreed to, the NIMBY's of the area were intractable! How many great projects were cut in half or abandoned altogether because of intractable neighbors who don't understand the meaning of compromise. My view will be ruined, my home will be in shadows for an extra 30 minutes, my, my, my!! NIMBY means just what it stands for...NOT IN MY BACKYARD, no ifs, ands, or buts without even considering any benefits that a particular project might bring to the neighborhood.
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Old 04-25-2007, 03:59 PM   #59
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Columbus Center was approved! Stop blaming the democratic process for the developer's failings.
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Old 04-25-2007, 04:06 PM   #60
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^^^^

You're got to be kidding me....how many years did it take for the process? How many millions more did the costs rise during the process. It wasn't a failure of the developer, it was the failure of the local government to put limits on the process.
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