The Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) on August 12 approved with provisos the refurbishment of the entrance at 224 Clarendon St.
Architect Tom Trykowski presented the proposal for the project, which is part of a new design that had been previously approved. He proposed to clad the entrance way with a granite that is similar to what exists already on the facade.
He said they have found matching granite and proposed to install a “neutral porcelain panel” on the inside of the doorway where the Guildford Hall plaque is, which sparked conversation between Commissioners, as many had questions about the historical significance of the plaque.
Trykowski also proposed pin mounted numbers for the building above the doorway, because he said it is currently difficult to find the number from the street.
Commissioner Zsuzsanna Gaspar said she would prefer if the granite wrapped around the edge instead of switching to the porcelain panel, but she said that this new design is “so much better than the original.” Commissioner Jerome CooperKing agreed.
Paula Baker, a neighbor, said that the plaque should remain but also likes the granite wrapping around.
“I don’t think the plaque is appropriate,” said Commissioner Robert Weintraub, but he added that it is “grandfathered in.” He still said he would “prefer to see the plaque removed.”
There was a suggestion to relocate the plaque to the lobby, but many Commissioners were curious about the historical significance of the building and the Guildford Hall plaque.
“With respect to the front entry, the back marble that is there now is not original,” said Tom High of backbayhouses.org, adding that there should be “no problem removing that.” He also said that “this design is much, much better,” and said that “it would be nice to keep the plaque simply because it has some historic attraction,” as he said that Guildford Hall was the original name of the apartment hotel that was in the building.
However, he said that from an architectural standpoint, the plaque should not be kept where it currently is.
Sue Prindle of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) said that this design is “much better” and “will fit very nicely on the street.” The Commission voted five to four to approve the proposal with the proposal that the granite “go over the top as well as the side; at least as far back as the new doors that are glass,” and how far back it goes will be determined by staff. The porcelain tiles will be removed from the design.