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1/31/13 Somerville Design Review Committee Meeting

by in All Ages, Assembly Square, Beat Reporter, Development and Zoning, Events, Mystic River, Orange Line, Transportation Projects
Posted on January 30, 2013 at 9:52 pm
Last Modified on January 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Agenda includes two buildings on block 2 of Assembly Square. One is a food-service building and the other is a mixed-use building with retail and office uses. More…

[Note: This is a syndicated post. Read the original at Somerville Development Forum.]

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One Response to “1/31/13 Somerville Design Review Committee Meeting”

  1. Beat Report: 1/31/13 Somerville Design Review Committee Meeting

    Bottom Line on Top

    Federal Realty presented design for the Block 2 buildings. One Was V-shaped, top of V facing the water. Ground floor individual retailers, offices above. DRC felt water side not as successful as other sides. Other was a pavilion with possible retail or restaurant. Federal Realty then presented retail design standards, including signage, doors, and window treatments. City approves standards, Federal includes them in tenant agreements. [Planning Board to approve standards 2/11/13.]

    Rough Notes

    [I arrived 10 minutes late.]

    Block 2 buildings. One looks like lofts. Ground floor has individual retailers. Store front, canopy, etc. Body is creamy white brick, contrast with other properties. Charcoal gray mullions. Traditional color selections. Clear glass, not tinted.

    Massing changed. Tenant fit-out plans have changed facade to push it out to be flush. Outdoor space is gone. No railing on 2nd floor. Dedicated office entry for tenants.

    On water side, may have very high visibility along water. Glowing opportunity. Side looks different: more delicate. Classic V-shaped building. Becomes more curtain wall on the inside. Corrugated metal penthouse screen.

    Kirylo: No residential? All business tenants?

    A: Yes.

    Proakis: Bring in design

    Q: Retail on first floor on water side?

    A: Yes. Lobby open to public.

    Q: Left side symmetrical to right side?

    A: Except for office entry. One side faces plaza, special moment for office entry.

    Q: How much office?

    A: Just under 100 K s.f.

    A. More details: decorative metal panels. Curtain wall infill with details. Around corners, are opportunities for external space.

    A: Want LEED certification. Will be spandrel glass with metal. Only part of window is see-thru.

    Q: Looks like adaptive reuse of concrete building.

    A: That’s where we started when discussing design. Creamy brick industrial buildings, like Brickbottom. Frieze line on top is also brick. Studying different brick patterns at sills and heads.

    Q: Looks like it will anchor that corner. Get more confused on turn toward river. Rendering is confusing. Want more solid. Isn’t working as well on water side. Too much glazing. Maybe more nuance like other side. Make it a two-fronted building.

    A: Wanted to make gesture toward water view. If you compare, it’s a bit difference.

    Q: Doesn’t need to look so much like an office building.

    Q: Who uses the deck?

    A: Tenant driven. Could have deck used by restaurant.

    Q: This is a building with no back. Think corner is successful. I like articulation on the side with embossing. Don’t have entrance on this side. Elegance to facade that goes around. Building wants to be symmetrical, same on both sides. Can make it more symmetrical because no big setback. Make it more like a V.

    A: On corner, it dodges back. Architects say here’s a great transition. Nibbled corner back. Can turn inside outside on river side. Want to offer enormous panoramic view. Users are ones with big open floor plans. Would pay off big on upper floors.

    Water side and urban sides are different.

    Q: Maybe didn’t take it far enough at place where sides meet. Too planar. They meet, don’t resolve against each other. Pedestrian in park will want a transition zone at corners.

    A: At corners, had hierarchy in mullions.

    Q: Usually we are more interested in modernesque designs. Like that this is refined historicism.

    Q: Victim of drawing that doesn’t do it justice. You see it as flat.

    A: Want a rendering of the upper side. Could dial back on intersections. Needs more hierarchy on water side, make it less jarring.

    A: Architecture bookends glass. We can show this to you. Drawing doesn’t show it.

    Q: Good selling point on architecture. If you can resolve this and show the solution, would help.

    Q: Molding colors?

    A: Charcoal gray. Gray against cream. Not trying to be retro, but evocative.

    Q: Residential buildings have a lot of activity. This more subtle.

    A: Everything around it is more colorful.

    A: We scratched our heads at white brick. Be a good balance against other buildings.

    A: Good to have early modernism (early Bauhaus).

    A: Other archway may be adjusted once we have a retail tenant to advise us.

    Lori: Northern point still active?

    A: At side are lower pavilion structures with metal to anchor corners. Trying to get pedestrian scale.

    Q: From urban design standpoint, does it want to be visible from a distance? Something a little higher?

    A: Maybe a little tower to break horizontal plane?

    A: How do we pin the end at the park? There are 3 gateway elements on end of park.

    Q: Mockup available to look at?

    A: Yes.

    [End of presentation.]

    —————

    [David Webster showing other building.]

    Talking about the pavilion (at “The Point”).

    Arch: Charged to create a pavilion in the park, part of it leasable.

    Arcade on west side, outdoor seating. North side has room with view toward river. Thinking of salvaging steel from Central Steel. Went to steel framed building. Was a pretty big building, broke it up with large end on south side, low arcade on west, large end on north side (tall space, sloped roof). There is no back as such. On east side, service on private street. Glass that wraps on 3 sides. Back side to have stone, maybe pickup stone. Rough stone against elegant steel.

    Arcade set back. Tenants want higher place for utilities. Terrace on west side, screened, to put condensers. Have an art object along top of building. Have a barn door that can move across back. Thought of making it red, decided not to.

    Because of glass, have to deal with energy code. Found a window product that uses aerogel between panes at upper level. Like a Barcelona pavilion.

    Kirylo: East elevation stone?

    A: Not decided yet. Looking at stacked stone. Looking at cultured stone, rusticated Renaissance stone. Put up like masonry. To look rough, like park.

    Q: Don’t paint barn door red if you want it elegant.

    A: No.

    Q: Like rustic stone. On penthouse, try to be subtle. You’ll lose elegance of other components. Could make penthouse disappear, would emphasize it and lose the delicacy of glass.

    A: Made it a silvery material, which tends to disappear.

    Q: Will read transparent. If there are materials inside that are also outside, would ground the materials.

    Feel that it is a little too much broken up. When I look at it in 3D, it reads like 3 different things (4th on top too). Would hold together better if more overlap.

    A: Low box has overhang and sticks out 2 feet in plan. Got a little long when linear. Wanted to use glass to tie it together.

    Q: Back of house stone breaks up massing.

    Q: To counter, could you use masonry up and over. Or bring metal down on back side. Could have 2 feet of snow along glass. Maybe have a short masonry base.

    Q: Why are columns so inbored? Needed for structural reasons?

    A: Yes. Column is freestanding. Corner is storefront. Wanted roof to shoot out past column.

    Q: Why not make corner thicker? It’s structurally functional there, but interferes with sweep.

    A: Column could be in the corner. I liked it there. Wasn’t a structural decision. Cost less in corner.

    A: Discussion of exposed structural pieces. Corner will be chunkier.

    Kirylo: Like your idea. Without it the roof looks like the brim of a baseball cap.

    Q: I like it separated too Detail the glass where it turns the corner. Now it looks like they compete.

    Q: Maybe if it was glass at corner and not like two columns, would look better.

    Q: Art installation by graphic designer? Maybe engage someone from the Somerville artistic community instead?

    A: Graphic designer has been a curator of art. Often engages local artists. Designs may be done by local artists, executed by her.

    Q: Where is it again?

    A: Along rim above arcade. Make it an art element that partially covers condensers. If you could find a local artist to push you toward the river, would be good.

    Q: Next steps? Will you bring a mockup? Stone materials.

    A: Depends on what you want.

    Q: Material samples, stone, metal color. Don’t need a mockup.

    A: OK. We’ll look at the corners, make art thing more representative.

    Q: Make it a Somerville Pavilion.

    A: Maybe won’t make architecture books….

    ————

    [FRIT architect passes out Assembly Row Design Standards.]

    Quick overview.

    Thoughts about store fronts and signage. On page 3, individual tenant expression for signage.

    On p. 7, document shows different areas discussed. Storefronts executed in particular way. Proportion of windows and doors. Pop out zones and recesses. Lighting standards, cafe areas

    P. 8, windows and glazing. Tenants have specific requirements, their own layouts. Issue with infill panels for anchor and corner tenants. Original document had 60% infill allowed. Internal negotiations come close to 60%, 75% is what tenants are asking for. I can build my own display and glazing. Will need to modify your document.

    Canopies & Awnings: No continuous storefront lines like strip malls. Specific sign types. Flat signs outside, sometimes awning signs, window signs, flags and banners for anchors, wall signs (menu boards, plaques).

    Entry embeds (mosaics in front of entry). Window area display signs. Want controls on where signs can be in windows. Design control zone. I don’t have rights to dictate layout, but we can control skin at sidewalk. Sign types, letter sizes, lighting. Prohibited sign types.

    Outdoor cafe areas. Protecting pedestrian environment.

    Federals basic standard.

    Q: Good to have controlled chaos, mimicking urban environment. Want to avoid real chaos. This is a development of prior work.

    A: Retail has changed a lot in last few years. Lots here that is cutting edge. This document is created so that there most people won’t have to come to city and change this. I can mediate this to create variations.

    Q: Signage approvals?

    A: Document goes to city, city approves it. If signage matches document, will be OK. Staff has to be comfortable with this document. Wish our own signage code is like this. Talks about sign types and categories. Specifies how to do this. We’re looking at numbers and shapes. Want to have two public meetings for feedback. FRIT does this for tenants anyway. We want public sector input.

    Q: Flags and banners allowed some places. Landlord has review of placement? Could have negative impact.

    A: We review everything. Tenant has little as-of-right control. May put into lease, but then we negotiated it.

    Q: City minimum expectation is in ordinance. FRIT may require tenants to be more rigorous, but not less.

    Q: what about color adjacencies? Lime green with purple?

    A: I track individual proposals. Not much of an issue. If a tenant has a particular color as their brand, could be an issue.

    Q: Like this approach. Looks like it is not planned, although it is. Would look organic.

    [Left at 8:00 PM at beginning of next case.]

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