Finally, Boston architecture gets its act together

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Boston Skyline
Boston Skyline
Boston Skyline
Boston Skyline

Boston may finally be getting a dose of good architecture. It’s coming from an unlikely source: a luxury residential developer. And it’s being designed by an unlikely architecture team: one of Boston’s best boutique firms, known among design aficionados everywhere but here.

If this team succeeds in building a distinctive 19-story apartment building on a little infill parcel between Bay Village and Park Square — and in convincing that good design is worth paying for — there’s hope for the city yet.

For years, “Boston architecture” was almost an oxymoron. Broadly speaking, Boston’s developing skyline has been an unsettling display of profound mediocrity. And nowhere was the city’s architecture more mediocre than in the Seaport. The area that should have showcased what a modern urban waterfront neighborhood could be, instead looks like Anywhere, USA — oblivious to its harborside surroundings, unremarkable in every possible way. Those responsible for the design and planning of that neighborhood and its collection of nondescript squat buildings — with rare exceptions such as the Moakley Courthouse and the ICA — should be publicly flogged in the Common.

Because the city has lacked any interest in good architecture, Boston’s finest designers have had to go elsewhere to get work. Tamara Roy, a principal at Stantec and former president of Boston Society of Architects (BSA), acknowledged that Boston developers typically excluded the region’s design-focused firms, saying that they got “traction working outside of Boston before they could get decent commissions here.” […]

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