TownPool Pop-Up Shop in Back Bay Opens for the Holidays:South End Landmark District Commission Approves New Building on Former Piano Factory Site

By Beth Treffeisen

The South End Landmark District Commission (SELC) at their December meeting approved the new design behind the 66,700 square foot building that will be completely replacing the site of a former piano factory building that was built in the late 19th century.

Located at 46 Wareham Street in the South End, the project will consist of four floors of commercial and office space including street level retail and restaurant use. It will also include two floors of residential use with 15 units, along with two affordable artists living and workspace units.

A three-story addition will be constructed along with an underground parking garage. As proposed, the building will be six stories and about 70 feet in height.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) have approved this project.

“I think it’s excellent,” said Chair John Amodeo. “We don’t normally say this, but I think it’s a worthy replacement.”

One thing missing that Commissioner Peter Sandborn noticed were the steel lintels from the front façade. The Commissioners suggested they figure out a way to incorporate it within the canopy.

Amodeo also pointed out that the canopy doesn’t jump through and feels like it is just resting against the building.

Commissioner John Freeman suggested that they look more closely into the detail because what is going to make this building work he said, is the street view.

“I think it’s a beautiful building,” said Commissioner Sandborn. “But, it’s too elegant and refined for the Western Block.”

David Hacin, the architect on this project from Hacin and Associates, agreed.

“It’s not the Back Bay,” said Hacin. “It needs to have some toughness to it.”

He suggested putting steel studs into the lower street level of the design, which the Commissioners all seemed to agree with.

Three provisions where attached to the approval including: looking into the canopy detail, adding more brick detail to the granite, figuring out the signage, and use of the lintels. The proponent was asked to come back to the full commission with fenestration changes.

The construction of a 150-foot tall office building addition on top of an existing parking garage structure at 321 Harrison Avenue was also approved with provisions at the hearing. It has also gained approval from the BPDA.

The project site includes an approximately two acre property that contains an existing 11-story, 234,900 square foot office building with a one-story lobby (known as 1000 Washington Street) located on the southern portion of the site.

On the northern portion of the site is an existing three-story 300 space-parking garage connected by the one-story lobby to 1000 Washington Street.

The new design includes construction of a new, eight-story office building of approximately 230,000 square feet to be built above the existing parking garage.

Other refinements include reducing the parking garage by 60 spaces, pulling back the loading dock area to create a public open space at 1000 Washington Street, and adding pedestrian improvements.

Although the Commission has limited purview on this site, the one thing the Commissioners disliked was the design element that will be used as a roof deck near the corner of Mullins Way and Harrison Avenue.

“Architecturally it doesn’t look integrated,” said Chair Amodeo. “Everything else you describe works really well – than you mentioned that.”

Amodeo said it is not typical to have a roof deck in an urban element.

“It has nothing to do with the use,” said Commissioner John Freeman. “It just looks like it was an after thought.”

Commissioner Catherine Hunt also pointed to Mullins Way that is often treated as back street, although it gets a lot of foot traffic from people visiting the nearby Whole Foods.

Provisions included that the proponent looks more into making that way more pedestrian friendly and re-working the design element of the roof deck.

SELC denied without prejudice the installation of a temporary awning vestibule with door at 569 Columbus Avenue because it has to be within the property line, otherwise they can’t approve it.

At 1511 Washington Street, SELC approved the installation of six new panel antennas on top of the building but made it clear that this will be the last time. The Commission agreed that the top of that building is getting way too crowded with antennas and suggested the cell phone carriers start sharing equipment.

After denying without prejudice the proponents at 612 – 626 Tremont Street to refurbish and augment railings with frog motifs at the hearing on September 9, the SELC approved the design after a presentation of many other unique railings in the South End, setting precedent.

On Thursday, December 8, TownPool celebrated the holidays at its new pop-up store in Back Bay. Hailing from the original store on Nantucket, the TownPool Boston pop-up shop is open now for the holidays and carries men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, accessories, furniture, luggage, kids’ toys, giftables and more. The TownPool team of Luke Gutelius, Sean Dew, Spencer Bass and Alec Griswald have cultivated a collection of product that is rare to the area, mostly U.S.-made, and memorable. Each brand at TownPool is thoughtfully selected and showcased separately throughout the store in what feels like mini pop-up shops. Shoppers can expect the unexpected, with interactive games (like find the rubber ducky facing the wrong way on the rubber ducky wall and get a prize) and a mini-golf course in the back. Its vibe is to be out of the box, a little wacky, but approachable and chic, and, bottom line, a great place to find an unanticipated gift. The Boston pop-up is open through early January and is located at 899 Boylston Street in Back Bay, Boston. Brands include Driscoll, EZPZ, FH Wadsworth, General Knot, Happy Socks, Harding Lane, Holebrook, Lemon and Line, Moore & Giles, Res Ipsa, Sail to Sable, Shinesty, Splash Bottle, Southern

Tide, STIK, The Beach People and Tuck Life. Visit www.townpool.com for more.

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