Proposed Tower at 1000 Boylston is Expected to Cast Long Shadows, Worrying Residents

A proposed single tower rising from a base podium to be built at 1000 Boylston Street is expected to cast new shadows throughout the nearby neighborhoods, from the Fenway Victory Gardens, to the Esplanade, down Commonwealth Avenue Mall to even the Boston Public Garden and Boston Common.

The shadow study, which was released in late January after over a year of discussions on the newly designed building, leaves many residents concerned over the impact the new shadow will have.

The proposed project consists of a single condominium tower rising from podium base containing retail, restaurant space and a two-story above-grade parking garage.

The project is part air rights, which will cover the Massachusetts Turnpike and railroads beneath it, and part on land located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and the Christian Science Center Plaza.

“While we support the goals of eliminating a hole in the urban fabric caused by the turnpike, linking neighborhoods, and activating Boylston Street, we have a number of concerns about the shadows from 1000 Boylston,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of Friends of the Public Garden.

“Shadows cast by the proposed project will impact Commonwealth Avenue Mall, public parkland which is enjoyed by many throughout the year. We hope that the project can provide value for the community while being well integrated into its surroundings and causing no adverse impact to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.”

The shadow study shows the animation of new shadow cast along with existing shadow for each month of the year.

The shadows fall within the limits of the current shadow laws governing the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, according to the developers. There are not similar laws governing the Fenway Victory Garden, a Boston Historic Landmark.

The shadow studies shows moving shadows running the entire length of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in November and December and some in October and January. End of the day shadows can be seen reaching as far as the Public Garden and Boston Common.

These new shadows are not in the growing season and will not affect the horticultural health of the Mall.

“So the negative impact of the shadows falls on the users of the Mall who appreciate the warmth of the sun in the colder months,” said Martyn Roetter, Chair of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB). “We know that the Mall is frequented fairly intensely all year long, and people can be observed on the benches during the winter months catching the sun’s rays.”

Mitigation from this project to compensate for the adverse impact of shadows and support the ongoing efforts of organizations and volunteers to maintain and improve the parks, Roetter noted, will be an issue NABB will raise to the developers.

On the other side of the building, the Fenway Victory Gardens seems like it is going to be bombarded by a number of new developments coming to the area.


The 1000 Boylston Street shadow study shows new shadow will stretch across the Fenway Victory Gardens from April to the end of August, with the worst being in the early morning hours of 5:30 a.m. to 7:30a.m. in May, June and July.

Kristen Mobilia a long-time member of the Fenway Garden Society said these new shadows will possibly affect the growing season and gardeners may have to change what they are growing in their plots to accommodate the new shadows.

“It is significant for the people who go to their plots early in the day,” said Mobilia. “It changes their experience.”

Other projects such as One Dalton, which is currently under construction, did not provide a shadow study but will no doubt cast new shadow on the park and the proposed 1241 Boylston Street hotel is expected to cast shadow on the garden as well because of its close proximity.

In addition, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) passed the Huntington Theatre towers that will cast new shadow onto the Christian Science Plaza.

“It is important to note it’s happening,” said Mobilia who said there a number of projects coming through that will cast new shadow in the morning. “The sunlight is important to the health of not just the soil and plants but to the public and community. There is a trade that is made but especially during the colder parts of the year – it can be significant.”

Tim Horn the president of the Fenway Civic Association agreed saying, there is a lot of new development and it is happening fast.

Mobilia said, “We have to be looking at it in a aggregative way to see the entire picture because it is happening so quickly.”

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