Beantown Rising: Big Development On the Horizon In Boston

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
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100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

For Bostonians, cranes and scaffolding have become a common fixture in the city’s landscape. In recent years, there’s been a slew of new developments cropping up everywhere from Roxbury to Fenway, with the bulk of construction concentrated in South Boston’s waterfront, and more specifically in a sub-section that Mayor Thomas M. Menino has dubbed the “Innovation District.” AN has compiled a list of some of the most high profile projects happening in the city.

Vertex Pharmaceutical's New Headquarters (Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects)

Vertex Pharmaceutical’s New Headquarters (Courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects)

South Boston Waterfront

Construction of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ headquarters at Fan Pier is well on its way. Mayor Menino “topped off” the first building this summer, which will be part of a 1.1-million-square-foot development that includes offices, biomedical research laboratories, retail, restaurant spaces, residential units, a hotel, a park, and a marina. Local architecture firms Elkus Manfredi Architects and Tsoi/Kobus & Associates have designed the two towers, slated for completion in 2013 and 2014. Vertex will be leasing the towers for $1.1 billion, which according to Pharmaceutical-Technology.com, is the largest commercial lease in Boston.

The Boston Innovation Center (Courtesy of Hacin + Architects)

The Boston Innovation Center (Courtesy of Hacin + Architects)

Across the street from Fan Pier, the $5.5 million Boston Innovation Center, designed by Hacin + Associates, is now under construction. This 12,000-square-foot facility will offer a space for companies to hold meetings and host events, including a restaurant with a test kitchen. The Center is part of Mayor Menino’s vision to turn this part of the city into the Innovation District.

Aerial shot of 100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

Aerial shot of 100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

There’s been little development on Pier 4 to date, but that’s about to change with a new mega complex (aptly called Pier 4) that will kick off with the construction of a 21-story, residential tower. This 9.5-acre mixed-use project, designed by ADD Inc, will consist of a hotel, retail, residential, office, and civic uses. In a story in Boston.com, Casey Ross calls attention to the fate of Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant—the waterfront institution that will soon be replaced by parkland. The strange plot twist in the story is that Anthony Athanas, the late restaurant owner, had once advocated for a mixed-use development on Pier 4 in the 1980s, but lost the property in a dispute with his former development partner. 

Rendering of Boston Convention Center expansion (Courtesy of Massachusetts Convention Center Authority)

Rendering of Boston Convention Center expansion (Courtesy of Massachusetts Convention Center Authority)

In an effort to boost Boston’s ranking as one of the top five cities in North America for conventions, the city has approved a $2 billion master plan to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to accommodate several new hotels, retail and commercial space, and a grass-covered rooftop park. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) issued an RFP for a developer to build and finance the project. While the development is still in its infancy, the MCCA has taken steps towards the expansion with its purchase of six acres of land adjacent to the Center, which they envision will be used for two mid-priced hotels.

A spokesman for the MCCA told AN: “We need to build up the number of hotels before we expand the actual convention center.” Another 1,000-room “headquarters” hotel is also in the long-term plan. The Boston firm ADD Inc, along with Atlanta-based firm tvsdesign, have drawn up the renderings of the expansion, but no architect of record has been hired yet for the project.

Fenway Center (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway Center (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway

Just when developer John Rosenthal might have thought he was out of the woods, overcoming recent legal hurdles, and ready to move forward with his $450 million Fenway Center Development, he faces yet another roadblock. But this time, as the Boston Globe reports, the conflict is with the state over a long-term lease for the project. If a deal can’t be reached, Rosenthal might lose his investor. The plan is to build a mixed-use complex, designed by Carlos Zapata Studio/DHK Architects, over Massachusetts Turnpike, which includes 500 residences, retail and commercial space, and a commuter rail station. Our friends at Curbed reported that the five buildings are supposed to be powered by solar panels.

Millennium Tower (Courtesy of Handel Architects)

Millennium Tower (Courtesy of Handel Architects)

Downtown Crossing

When department store Filene’s Basement shut its doors, it left a void in downtown Boston. But, it didn’t take long for developers to set their sights on this former department store and the surrounding area. As AN reported on Friday, developer Millennium Partners took over the project and hired Handel Architects to renovate the 1912 building by Daniel Burnham and turn into office and retail space. The next phase of the project will be the Millennium Tower, a 625-foot mixed-use tower, which is expected to be the tallest residential building in Boston once it is complete.

More views of projects described above:

Renderings of hotels proposed on D Street (Courtesy of the Massachusettes Convention Center Authority)

Renderings of hotels proposed on D Street (Courtesy of the Massachusettes Convention Center Authority)

Rendering of parking garage proposed on D Street (Courtesy of the Massachusettes Convention Center Authority)

Rendering of parking garage proposed on D Street (Courtesy of the Massachusettes Convention Center Authority)

The Boston Innovation Center (Courtesy of Hacin + Architects)

The Boston Innovation Center (Courtesy of Hacin + Architects)

100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

100 Pier 4 (Courtesy of ADD Inc)

Fenway Center (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway Center (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway Center site plan. (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway Center site plan. (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway Center site. (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

Fenway Center site. (Courtesy of Meredith Management Corporation)

3 Responses to “Beantown Rising: Big Development On the Horizon In Boston”

  1. andy says:

    As one who attended school here some 30 years ago, I realize I am not in the young avant grade any more. But these architectural proposals are surface pretty but deeply saddening. The Boston of Beacon Hill, Cambridge, Somerville and Dorchester is real. These new concoctions, every one of which is enormous, glass faced, and glisteningly hollow, are evidence of the vapidity of new architecture, which erases any eccentric and historic connections in place of virtual biotech land where billions and trillions dominate and individuals are mere cogs.

    And building next to the waterfront as the oceans rise…is that a wise move?

  2. Andrew says:

    The Dorchester that Andy talks about has overhanging cables, bent power poles, uneven roads, overcrowded triple deckers, traffic congestion. This is so far from the fairy land that people think Boston is. And why is Boston craving to be a legitimate American convention city? Such lofty goal.

  3. Dan Petitpas says:

    Dorchester isn’t that bad. And, yes, it does show its age as an over 120 year old neighborhood. But I think the point is that Boston is allowing these New York-style throw-away skyscrapers and massive complexes to be built (probably to pump up the tax base) instead of building places like Beacon Hill and the North End that will be appreciated 100 years from now.

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