Bay Village HLDC Approves Verizon Wireless Light Pole; BU Data Sciences Center also Approved

The Bay Village Historic Landmark District Commission (BVHLDC) had a very light agenda on June 11, consisting of a proposal to replace an existing city-owned light pole between Arlington St. and Fayette St. with a six-sided metal pole painted to match the concrete color of the existing pole. The pole will have a metal base with a small antenna system at the top. The project was unanimously approved by the Commission.

Michael Giaimo of Robinson + Cole law firm represented Verizon Wireless, who was seeking the new antenna system, at the hearing. He said this proposal was part of a program in Boston to replace city-owned light poles with ones that could support these antennae, as it is becoming more and more imperative to keep up with the demand for cell service in the city.

Though this location is on the outskirts of the landmarks district, it was still technically within it and had to be heard by the Commission. Giaimo said that they typically “try to avoid historic districts, but it’s not always possible.” He said they looked into putting it outside the district but there wasn’t another place to put it where it would serve the same purpose.

The light pole will be a replica of what is already there with an extension on the top to house the antennas. The light fixture has to remain the same when it is replaced, said Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission. He said it could not be replaced with something else, such as an acorn light.

The BVHLDC had little discussion on the topic, and voted to approve the proposal as presented, because the location of the pole is “at the edge of the district” and will not drastically alter anything visually or historically.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY DATA SCIENCES CENTER

Applicants from Boston University came before the Bay State Road/Back Bay West Area Architectural Conservation District Commission with their application for the Boston University Data Science Center, which is a proposed 19-story building at 665 Commonwealth Ave. that “partially extends across the southern boundary of the Bay State Road/Back Bay West Area Architectural Conservation District,” according to the filing with the Commission. The project includes improvements to the adjacent private alley, granny Street, and open space at the corner of Granby Street and Bay State Road. The Commission had very few questions for the proponents, and voted to approve the project.

The area where the building will be constructed is a service parking lot today, but 10 years ago it was a Burger King.

The building has several overhangs, some of which are in the purview of this Commission, so the materials for the building were discussed with the Commission, and consist of aluminum and triple pane insulated glazing units. There will also be a courtyard with benches for people to sit, and groundwater will be recharged as required by the district.

About a dozen trees will be planted, and the applicants said that they would like to use some flowering trees. They are looking at geothermal energy, as well as solar and wind, to support this building and are hoping to reach LEED Platinum status. “It’s exciting, it really is,” said Commissioner Pam Beale of the green energy effort.

The alley will be turned into a pedestrian-focused street, which will consist of new trees and plantings. A sloped walkway will lead to the ground floor entrances to the building.

Changes to Granby Street include a change from a two-lane, one way road to a two way road with bike lanes on both sides, as the applicants said that bike use is currently very popular on the street. The open space area owned by Boston University at the corner of Granby St. and Bay State Road will include new plantings, paving, and site amenities. The applicants said that the Boston Transportation Department is “on board” with the two bike lanes.

These changes within the district were supported unanimously by the Commission, and were excited for this addition to the Boston University Campus.

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