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      Blog :: 03-2012

      Green Building in Boston (Part 1)

      Green Building in Boston (Part 1)

      Taking into consideration that Boston is one of the few cities in the nation with rich history, one would guess that, proper preservation and specialized use of building materials would be of major importance.  Since some materials can effect the health of building  inhabitants and its surrounding environments, materials used in construction is a main focal point.  The use of sustainable green products in remodeling, preservation, and building construction is good for the environment and  helps to prevent residents from health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases.

      Going green has been considered more of a luxury and not so much of a cost effective choice in the past but things are changing. Since the 1980's Boston has been slowly been remodeled, firstly by removing the usage of asbestos in new building projects and secondly by redoing the ones previously build. Moving forward, a local organization focused on sustainable community development initiated the renovation of 82 different units of family housing and in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. The project was put into motion by a company called Urban Edge, a community development corporation which specializes in sustainable and green living. Urban Edge and a few of other green building companies are responsible for the remodeling of  a number of affordable apartments just within the city of Boston. Up to date, such companies  have completed a green renovation of over one hundred rental apartments in the Dorchester and Jamaica Plain areas, setting an example for all green building projects. Further, their most recent project is another step along the path of the Urban Edge "integrated green" development initiative that provides low cost, environmentally sound housing which has gained lots of traction since their first project launched in 2006, which incorporated renewable energy into Egleston Crossing, a mixed-use building. These are just a few of the projects led by green building enthusiasts and innovators slowly but maturely transforming Boston and its surroundings to a new wave of more sustainable and healthy way of living.

       

       

      Boston and its Surrounding Modern Architecture (Part 3)

       

      Boston and its Surrounding Modern Architecture (Part 3)

      The city of Boston's architecture has the reputation of  an old classic English brick styled, traditional structures, thus making the task for new modernistic architect enthusiast even harder to blend in modern features with the historic classics. The city's architecture is diverse, but much of it is based on standard 19th and early 20th century techniques and designs. Older structures like churches, libraries, and commercial properties date back even further, some even way back to the 1700?s.

       

      The New Old South Church, located in Copley Square, is a prime example of Boston's older Venetian influenced architecture. It was built by architects Cummings & Sears in 1874. On the other hand, Boston is as much an historic city as it is an modern one. Over the years, contemporary architecture has flourished, slowly penetrating  the shadows of its grand traditional ancestors. In the not far 1970?s, Boston and nearby Cambridge experienced a minor modernistic wave, with architects constructing numerous projects of which skyscrapers and buildings designed with  nontraditional angles, subdued colors, and unique designs.

       

       

      A perfect example of the modern wave constructed in 1973, is the Harvard's Science Center. Its unusual, contemporary architecture has set the beginning stage of Boston's desire to share its historic past with a combination of equally rich and futuristic present.

      Further, in Cambridge, MIT hired architect Frank Gehry to construct a modern academic complex. The project, which included funding from Bill Gates among others, made a considerable futuristic and colored splash in Boston's architectural world.

       

       

      The MIT's Stata Center, was finally completed in 2004. The unique style of the building resembles an always unfinished looked appearing as if it will collapse any second. The supporting columns tilt at scary angles giving an even more bizarre sight of the structure. The walls swerve, and collide in random curves and angles which appear confusing and not proportional to the naked eye. The materials change wherever you look from brick to mirror-surface steel to brushed aluminum, and brightly colored paint. The building as a whole looks improvised, as if sketched and designed at the last moment representing freedom and creativity of research and development and stands as a proud statement of contemporary architecture. In other words, Boston has become a safe haven for enterprising new daring architects as the city's landscape is evolving, and builders are taking note.

      Below are more samples of recently completed structures following the slowly penetrating new style of construction within the old city.

       

       

      The Institute of Contemporary Art is another modern marvel, even though mostly criticized by many for its unconventional shape, still standing proudly in the city of Boston.

       

       

       

      Another famous new piece of modern architecture is the so called Fishbowl office building minutes outside of Boston.

       

      Boston and its Surrounding Modern Architecture (Part 2)

      Boston and its Surrounding Modern Architecture (Part 2)

      Another unique, modern home created by the architect Marcel Breuer, assigned to create an exclusive contemporary home in Andover, a town 15 miles north of the city has become a must see example of a new line of construction within New England.  The town of Andover was an ideal location for such a home because it offered an abundance of land. Constructed in the late fall, the landscape was often distorted by wind and the spread of leaves, by rolling roads and long, lavish hills that stretched into the aged New England sky. But Breuer's architecture spun life within a clean and energetic design. It holds nothing of the harsh conditions of the winter, but instead brings to life a unique, modern home, scattered with white and stone exterior, glass walls, and an open floor plan.

      Chaewon Kim and Beat Schenk are ascending architects. The couple lives and works in Cambridge, MA, where their renovated home which made them famous. After purchasing the small cottage, the architects took down the walls, the plumbing system, and mostly everything leaving a  plain canvas to make their creation and begin their revolution. The most important factor was that they wanted to renovate and design the house using affordable, do-it-yourself products available on the common market. The result was a natural and unnatural hybrid construction, inserted within a plot of land, a home representing New England's distant past while putting a spin on a modernistic approach used in the 21st century architecture.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Boston and Its Surrounding Modern Architecture (part 1)

      Boston and Its Surrounding Modern Architecture (part 1)

      Boston is known to be a home to education, sports, history, unpredictable weather and families that have lived in the surrounding area for years. Apart from the old brick English inspired architecture, Boston also has a variety of modern and abstract features intermingled in between. Some of its residents choose to live in small apartments, with minimal accouterments, other in mansion-like houses on the outskirts by the ocean, and finally the enthusiasts which prefer a splash of contemporary way of living. An example of this modern lifestyle chosen by some is a home in the outskirts of Boston, MA, where all the amenities that the best of today's architecture and design can afford are depicted.

       

      This home, while surrounded by cottages dating from the 1900's, is facing the waterfront, faintly being distinguished with its abstract to old cottage -like persona, disguising the gem that lies within.

      On the other hand, imagine owning a home to which reaching its front gate would require a climbing a steep hill, yes, a steep hill, even though sounding abhorrent the climb is rewarded when you reach the top. This home is located in the Boston surroundings, in Chestnut Hill. The home is uniquely modern, structurally designed to embrace the outline of a long hill, and it's environmentally sound from the materials used to its shape and structure, camouflaged in the terrain. This home was designed by Jonathan Levi Architects, true evidence to a transition of contemporary Boston homes.

       

      The appearance of the main building draws out transversely in plan and section, compliant to the inclined land and allowing for each room to fall into a unique relationship to the south facing views. The garage and court are carefully placed, detached for extra privacy and intimacy adding to the outdoor grandeur of the living space.

       

      Living in a Brownstone Building

      Living in a Brownstone Building

      If you travel around the Northeast of the United States, you can easily find buildings that are called as "brownstone" in many major cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago. "Brownstone" is a building made of brown sandstone, which was a popular building material in the 19th Century. Over the time people started to apply the term "brownstone" to any building that has a similar style and façade of typical 19th century brownstone clad buildings.

      Brownstones are usually three to five floor buildings, with a narrow width and a longer lengthwise. Originally, these were built for single-families. However, owners saw an investment opportunity by dividing the house into apartments and rent units out. Three floor brownstone buildings may have six to twelve units.

      Many brownstone buildings are very sophisticated since most of them have a history of over 100 years. People find these building interesting because of their unique structure and vintage details. Even if most brownstone buildings have been renovated over the years, they do not offer the most convenience like modern high-rise buildings.

      Currently, large numbers of brownstone homes have been renovated as apartment buildings in areas such as Harlem, Park Slope, and Brooklyn. You can easily find brownstone homes in Greater Boston Area and New York City. In Boston, there are several neighborhoods that are known for classy brownstone apartment buildings. Bostonians living in famous brownstone neighborhoods like Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and South End, are also known for pursuing a chic and fashionable lifestyle. Also, in some famous street like Newbury St or Charles St, you will find restaurants and shops in the ground floors, living the upper floors for apartments.
      If you are looking for a small and cozy apartment, you will probably like to consider a brownstone a building.  Even if you are used to live in modern and contemporary buildings, living a brownstone building can be a very nice and unique experience