The Bay Village Historic District Commission (BVHDC) met virtually on October 12 to hear an advisory review for an addition on top of the existing two story building at 95-97 Broadway.
Meichi Peng of Meichi Peg Design Studio and her colleague Henrietta Mei were on hand to present the proposal as well as address comments from Commissioners.
The proposal is to add two condo units to the top of the building, and Peng said that the front of the building is “set back about five feet” from street level. She said on the back of the building, the setback is 12 feet in some areas, and 15 in others. All existing trees will be kept.
The existing building is a brick building, but Peng said that the proposed addition would feature dark gray metal panels and aluminum clad windows. The proposed roof deck would be constructed of composite material that would look like wood. Several skylights are also proposed for the roof.
Peng said that the metal paneling material was chose because it is durable and “feels lighter” than brick. She said that it will feel as though there is an addition on the building but does “try to respect the existing” one that it will be on top of.
Peng said that abutters on Melrose St. are in support of the proposal, which had been presented to neighbors and the Bay Village Neighborhood Association over the summer, according to Peng.
The project requires several zoning variances, including Groundwater Conservation Overlay District (GCOD), setback, and height, and has yet to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeal.
Peng said that the design team’s “goal” is to make sure the front facade of the addition is pulled back “so the building doesn’t look so massive,” especially from the street.
Commissioners had a few questions relating to the windows and the perspectives of the addition that were shown.
Commissioner Tom Hotaling asked about the “teller spacing for the muntins” that seems to be the case for the newly proposed upper windows. The existing windows will be kept.
Mei spoke of working in “modules” and the team’s attempt to “keep some of the modules through the horizontal lines” of the existing building.
She also said that they “tried to do some vertical alignment in terms of upstairs and downstairs but is not literal.” Mei said that there is a “certain randomness” to the windows on the existing building, and “our hope is to one day get back to the original 1940s rhythm.”
Other commissioners expressed concern with the view of the addition as a pedestrian. Commissioner Stephen Dunwell said that when looking at the proposal from above, which most of the renderings showed, “the pedestrian would see something different.” He said he would like to see a pedestrian view of the building as well as one with the current condition.
Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, said that he showed this proposal to other staff members, and “we thought it looked great,” but he had a question about the addition’s “relationship to 10-12 Winchester St. and how much taller is it going to be there to the ridge? It looks like you have a setback where it abuts 99 Broadway, but you don’t have one where it abuts 10-12 Winchester,” he said.
Peng said that 10-12 Winchester was not modeled into the rendering, and the Commission agreed that this is something they would want to see.
“When you do come back with an application, I think we’re going to need to see a full elevation with the Winchester Street buildings next door so we understand how they’re connected and how much taller this might be than that building,” Cornish said. He suggested that the team explore
stepping it a little bit so it’s not so abruptly taller where it abuts.”
Hotaling added that he would like to see 10-12 Winchester in there as well, specifically from a viewpoint that shows the pitched roof of that building next to the proposed square roof of 95-97 Broadway.
Cornish also said that the Commission would like to see more options for windows, specifically ones that would line up better with the existing ones.
Peng showed the Commission an original proposal that did not have setbacks, and then showed the current proposal with the setbacks, which Cornish agreed was an “improvement,” but the Commission is still looking for more information.
“We can’t review your application formally until you have your zoning variance,” Cornish said. “It seems like it would be helpful if you come back next month with some of the additional information we’ve asked for for another advisory review.”
The Commission stated that their purview is focused on what can be viewed from public streets, so that’s what they’d like to see the team focus on when they come back, instead of so many views from above.