Boston Landmarks Commission Approves New Elements at Christian Science Plaza

By Beth Treffeisen

The Christian Science Plaza restoration and repair project implementation received approval from the Boston Landmarks Commission to use materials for the multiple projects throughout the plaza, as they begin construction this fall.

The proposal that was presented Tuesday, September 27, to the Boston Landmarks Commission comprised of materials being used for the reflecting pool surround, the Massachusetts Ave., lawn and edge, the Huntington Ave. edge, the Children’s Fountain and the nexus for the Mother Church Original.

This presentation was a follow-up to a hearing that was held on July 26, 2016.  “It was a home run as far as I’m concerned,” said Robert Herlinger the chief architect and strategist after the Tuesday evening.

There are five provisos that the commissioners asked for including: at the Children’s Fountain seating the new opening, continuing ghost of original curve of seating at grade in granite that matches Belvidere entry granite, also use pre-cast and stainless ‘slices’ at edges, and not granite end pieces.

Exploring adding an accessibility-warning strip for the visually impaired at the new granite banding in Children’s Fountain.

At the Huntington Tree Bosque, the commissioners asked to look into using square nubs on the replacement tree opening system to express original squares of tree grate grids, and bring back ideas to the Commission for approval.

At the Massachusetts Avenue Lawn they asked the skirting at light bases to protect curved profile be raised or lower the outside flat ring band to protect and still read the original profile.

Lastly, the commissioners asked that the Massachusetts Avenue benches change profile of seating at Locusts from bullnose curve to a quarter inch eased edge.

This list of provisions is subject to change because Rosanne Foley the executive director of the Boston Landmarks Commission has yet to receive approval of the language of the changes by the other commissioners.

A concern that the commissioners brought up was approving a band around the Children’s Fountain with granite that if passed by the commission could lead to engraving of scripture.

“I am a little concerned that this is based on signage,” said Commissioner David Berarducci. “But they will come back to us with the signage.”

Commissioner Brad Walker questioned if they should approve the rows of brick if they are not sure if they will pass for engraving.

But Chris Bridle a senior associate and design leader at CRJA-IBI Group who is working on this project said, “No, I think we do this anyway.”

Another major change the Commissioners had an issue with was around the grating that surrounds the trees on Huntington Ave.

“The honey comb details around the trees – that to me is a significant change from the original,” said Commissioner Richard Yeager.

The proposal includes three different sizes of grates to allow for the various flares of the trees to properly fit.

According to Bridle, the grid with open holes that where created around the trees was originally made for drainage. But, he said, those are not necessary.

Instead he proposed to replace the damaged grid system with something that would make it easier for people to walk through and even allow for a place to put tables and chairs.

“We’ve spoken to the tree experts and in the next 25 years they will expand by two inches and in the worst case by 4 inches,” said Bridle. “And we can expand these openings to allow that.”

For Commissioner Walker who appreciates the thought going into making it more walk-able along with the addition of tables asked, “I wonder if there is a way to do that but include the patterning that is there?”

The design team was asked to come back with a plan to incorporate those details for approval by the commission.

Commissioner Berarducci said, “It’s a detail but the details in this whole thing is key.”

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