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George Thrush articulates public’s interest in high rise plans for Back Bay

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George Thrush, Professor and Director of the School of Architecture, has been acting as co-chairman of the Impact Advisory Group related to the development at Belvedere, Dalton and Clearway Streets in the Back Bay. Thrush recently participated in a public forum related to the development of what will be the city’s third tallest buildings. The site of this new high rise is a small green space owned by the Christian Science Center and is located across from the Sheraton Hotel. This building will house a hotel and condominiums and will be 49 stories.

Cambridge-based Carpenter & Co. has been selected to develop the site.  New York-based architect Harry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, and Cambridge Seven Associates, will serve as the architectural team for both buildings.

A key concern for many is what the effect of such a tall building will have on the area and the pedestrian experience in the neighborhood. Many Bostonians can attest to the unpleasantness of the experience of being street-level around the Hancock Tower. These concerns were raised by Sybil Cooper King, who is representing the Back Bay Neighborhood Association on the Impact Advisory Group.

“We are very concerned about how the height effects the experience on the street,” she said. “You don’t want to be blown off your feet when you’re walking by the building. Is it going to be a comfortable space to walk around?”

Thrush addresses these concerns while advocating for increasing density in the downtown area, which will aid in the ability of the city to remain competitive and vibrant. He notes that the current design will need modification to insure that the surrounding sidewalks are not turned into a wind tunnel.

“Boston is one of the most vital economies among American cities and in order to remain competitive, we must build more housing, and height creates more density that gives us better use of transportation resources,” he said. “If done well, tall buildings become part of a city’s identity. When you see the Hancock and the Pru towers, you know where you are.”

But he also notes:

“There must to be a break at the 50- to 70-foot height so when the wind comes down the tall building, it slams into the top of a podium rather than the pedestrians walking by on the street,” he said. “The Hancock building is the most egregious offender and that’s why it’s so windy over there. The wind comes right down the face of the building and blows you away.”

Read the full article here: Thomas Grillo, Boston Business Journal, Lofty plans take shape to build Boston’s third-tallest tower

Related articles: Paul McMorrow, Boston Globe, Adjusting Boston’s High Spine

NU Grad Studio addresses issue of Tall Buildings in Historic Areas