Administration Building YMCA Branch To Remain Intact

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1 Project Site BOSTON LANDMARKS COMMISSION The YMCA of Greater Boston, Inc. and Huntington Affordable Housing Limited Partnership (together, Building was originally comprised of three (3) separate buildings that are now integrated and function as a single building. The portion of the Building located at 316 Huntington Avenue is known as the The third section of the original building, the YMCA Gymnasium, fronts on St. Botolph Street. The Project Proponent, PPC Land Ventures, Inc. ( Phoenix ) has entered into an agreement with the YMCA to acquire a portion of the YMCA Land, containing approximately 21,980 square feet, which includes the YMCA Gymnasium and a small part of a story addition at the center of the site. The YMCA will retain ownership of a portion of the YMCA Land, containing approximately 45,192 square feet, which includes the main Administration Building and the Hastings Wing, which are not part of this project. Administration Building YMCA Branch To Remain Intact 1

2 Education Wing Hastings Wing To Remain Intact Gymnasium To be Demolished 2

3 The Boston YMCA The Boston YMCA, completed in 1912, is significant as a well-preserved commission of the Boston firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, it is one of a cluster of turn of the 20th-century institutional buildings near the intersection of Massachusetts and Huntington Avenues. It is significant for its continued association with the YMCA since it opened at this location. The building at Huntington Avenue is the fifth facility occupied by the Boston YMCA since it was established in Boston in The continued relocation of the YMCA during its first six decades half of the 19 th century. The broad mission of the YMCA included the spiritual, educational, physical and social well-being of boys and young men, as well as offering a job placement service. During the two World Wars, the YMCA offered social and training programs for civilians and the armed forces to aid in the war effort. The educational mission of the Boston YMCA was formalized with the establishment in 3

4 1896 of the Evening Institute, which offered 30 courses in various fields. Within its first 15 years, the YMCA had formed a college preparatory school, business school, a school of commerce and finance, school of electricity, an automotive school and a polytechnic school. These schools were the precursor to Northeastern University. Classical Revival in form with Tapestry Brick detailing, the Boston YMCA consists of three blocks built in 1912 (see figure below). The three original blocks are the Administration Building (now referred to as the YMCA Branch), the Education Building (now referred to as the Hastings Wing) and the Gymnasium. The Administration Building (seven stories on a high basement) runs parallel to Huntington Avenue. The Hastings Wing (six stories, but the same height as the Administration Building) forms an ell extending south from Huntington Avenue to St. Botolph Street. The Gymnasium, along the south boundary parallel to St. Botolph Street, is connected by bridges to the Hastings Wing and the Administration Building. The three blocks occupy almost the entire site, except for a narrow 8-foot setback along Huntington Avenue and a narrow side yard setback. The façade is set on a tan terra cotta base, with buff brick walls and a bold terra cotta cornice and a parapet above. The brick patterns and lavish use of molded terra cotta beltcourses enrich the entire façade especially at the three Huntington Avenue entrances. Except for the entrances, the architectural form and ornament continue on the Huntington Avenue façade and the west elevation of the Hastings Wing. Turning the corner to the south elevation of the Hastings Wing, the brick transitions to common red brick and all terra cotta ornament terminates making the south and east elevations of the Hastings Wing tertiary elevations. Strictly utilitarian in design built of red brick, cast stone sills and lintels, the south and east elevations have no other detail, no cornice, polychromy, patterning or beltcourses. These elevations are not part of the significant historic fabric. Similarly, the Gymnasium is designed in a utilitarian form. The south elevation along St. Botolph Street and the east elevation are built of red brick, with cast stone sills. The first-story windows are set in groups of three and the second-story windows are two stories tall with a round arch. The window openings are punched, and the brick appears as a skin with no other architectural expression on these elevations. The top of the walls were not trimmed with any detail and the brick has begun to spall. 4

5 The Proposed Project The YMCA of Greater Boston, Inc., Phoenix and Northeastern University have entered into a letter of intent, which provides for the development and construction by Phoenix of a Project that will create approximately 720 beds to serve as Northeastern University student housing pursuant to a lease agreement, including beds for Residential Life and other faculty and supervisory Proposed The proposed new residence hall will be situated on St. Botolph Street, behind the existing YMCA in the area currently housing the YMCA Gymnasium. The existing Hastings Wing will be retained in its entirety. The new building to be constructed facing St. Botolph Street will be seventeen (17) stories. As defined by the Boston Zoning Code, the proposed height will be approximately 198 feet, as measured to the top of highest occupied floor. The height of the proposed building will be in keeping with some of the taller buildings in the area, from the Back Bay down Huntington Avenue to the southwest. The Proposed 5

6 Project requires demolition of the entire Gymnasium block on St. Botolph Street, two bridges from the Gymnasium to the Hastings Wing and to the main Administration Building, a storage area and corridor that are not visible from a public street. Demolition of 450 square feet of the Huntington Room may also be required, but if demolished, it will be rebuilt in its current location. The connector and the Huntington Room were constructed ca and are located at the interior of the lot. One story brick with no significant features, they are not architecturally significant elements. Project Data/Approximate Dimensions Project Data Lot Area : Ground Floor Building Footprint Area: Total (Zoning) Gross Floor Area 1 : Proposed Project 21,980 sq.ft. 14,130 sq.ft. 200,500 sq.ft. Number of Student/Faculty Beds: Approximately 720 beds Floor Area Ratio: Approximately 9.2 Maximum Height 1 : Maximum Number of Stories (not including penthouse): 198 feet 17-stories Parking Spaces: 0 (1) Gross Floor Area and Height as defined by the Boston Zoning Code. Project Alternatives The building massing and height have been substantially reduced from the prior GrandMarc at St. Botolph Street project considered 3-1/2 years ago. The proposed Project entails construction of a 17-story building (reduced from 24 stories). also been lowered from 13.1 to 9.2. The proposed Project design is sympathetic to its immediate context. Equally important is that the Hastings Wing, which was expected to be partially demolished at the south end near St. Botolph Street, will now be retained as part of the YMCA complex. 6

7 The new construction portion of the Project will complement the historic Hastings Wing and the YMCA Administration Building and each building will respect the other for its place in history, yet be distinct architecturally in its own right. New Construction The proposed design reflects significant changes reductions in building height, massing, and the bed count and the full length of the Hastings Wing will be retained. As such, the proposed Project responds to earlier comments made by the Boston Landmarks Commission. Design Alternatives Preferred Alternative The design of the proposed Project will respect the geometry of the existing site and the historic YMCA building that is not part of the proposed development. Contemporary in design, the proposed building will be seen in the background of the YMCA and the New England Conservatory buildings, which sit at or near the sidewalk on Huntington Avenue. The Proponent and Project architect, DiMella Shaffer, have taken into consideration the potential impact to the significant historic fabric of the original Shepley Rutan & Coolidge design for the YMCA building. The Huntington Street façade, which will be retained along the entire length of the building, is the primary architectural statement for the YMCA Building, which reads as a single massive block relieved by regular window bays, terra cotta ornament, cast iron balconies and the balanced symmetrical entries with terra cotta surrounds. The expression of the change in floor levels between the Administration Building and the Hastings Wing is subtle, continuing the regular progression of bays while expressing the taller floor heights at floors 3 and 4 on the Hastings Wing. The south and east elevations of the Hastings Wing are tertiary elevations, utilitarian in design using red brick, cast stone sills and lintels. There is no other detail, no cornice, polychromy, patterning or beltcourses. These elevations are not part of the significant historic fabric. Views looking north from St. Botolph Street show elevations that were not designed to be major public façades. Other Alternative Considered Incorporation of Gymnasium Façade into New Construction If the Gymnasium façade were retained on St. Botolph Street, the height of the new building would have to increase from that proposed in order to satisfy the same program. The floor heights of the first three floors (behind the Gymnasium facade) would be taller, which would increase the height of the building beyond 198 feet. In addition, the existing arched windows on the Gymnasium façade are spaced so that every residential room would not have a window, which is required by code. 7

8 This restricts the utility of that entire floor and results in an inefficient use of space. The structural bays of By contrast, the new construction in the Proposed Project can be more flexible than it would be if the floor levels had to align with existing windows and bays. In order to be retained, the Gymnasium façade would have to be supported during project demolition and construction, which will present logistical and timing interference for construction activities. Support of the façade would have to be built on the exterior of the wall. Given the narrow width of St. Botolph Street, structural support on the street side of the façade would interfere with the placement of project staging, construction equipment and with deliveries and other traffic. The proposed design of the new building opens up at the entrance level on St. Botolph Street making a connection to the street. The visibility from the sidewalk and street into the building will create a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. The opportunity for this connection between the interior and exterior of the building would be lost if the existing Gymnasium façade were retained. Conclusion The Proposed Project requires demolition of the entire Gymnasium block on St. Botolph Street, two bridges from the Gymnasium to the Hastings Wing and to the main Administration Building and a storage area and corridor that are not visible from a public street. A portion of a one story room known as the Huntington Room may also be demolished as part of the proposed Project, but if demolished, it will be rebuilt in its current location. The primary architectural statement of the YMCA Branch will be retained as the Huntington Street façade and the west elevation of the Hastings Wing are the most prominent and architecturally significant elements of the block. The Construction Management Plan will incorporate several measures to address potential impacts to historic resources from the Project. Geotechnical instrumentation programs for the YMCA building and for buildings in proximity to the construction site will be implemented to monitor and limit the potential for construction period impacts from vibration, limited dewatering, and settlement. Similarly, potential effects of the design have been evaluated. 8

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