BBAC Stands Firm on Guidelines in Most-recent Design Review Items

Four projects came before the Back Bay Architectural Commission on Feb. 13, moving relatively quickly through the presentation and approval process.

At 344 Beacon St., the applicant proposed to repair and re-paint existing iron railings, replace the garden-level door in kind, replace three windows with a singular window on the penthouse, and rear balcony window modifications, among a few other things. The three windows would be replaced with a steel window as one larger opening, and the applicant said that there is no evidence that it is visible from the street.

The applicant stressed that he really wanted to use steel for the windows, but the Commission, especially Commissioner Iphigenia Demetriades, was adamant that steel was not an appropriate material.

“The guidelines are wood,” said Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission.

The applicant said that steel has a lower profile and he would “love to continue this throughout” because it picks up on other elements of the design. He said that a wood window gives much less of a profile and will provide less of a view than steel.

Commissioner Jane Moss asked if there might be something the applicant can do to the wood that would achieve the look they’re after and please the client. The Commisison told the applicant that if he were able to achieve the same profiles in wood, then that would be accepted. They also reminded him that the doors must be wood as well.

“I fully sipport the commission,” said Sue Prindle of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay. The Commission approved the project with the proviso that wood windows and doors be used with the exception of the courtyard door which can remain as metal.

At 260 Beacon. St., applicant Anthony Griseto proposed to replace two fourth-story-two-over-two-non-historic vinyl windows with wood one-over one windows on the front facade.

Griseto said that on the existing vinyl windows, there are two-over-two grilles between the glass, and vinyl was painted to match the exterior. The grilles are still white, he said. He wants to install double hung one-over-one wood windows that would be painted to match. He said they do not make two-over-two windows that tilt in, which is what the clients wanted.

“I don’t want to set a precedent,” said Commissioner Jerome CooperKing. “There’s got to be a way to approve this without setting a precedent.”

The front of this building has already ben altered at least 75 percent, so the Commission approved this project based on the fact that it has been heavily altered. They said that 75 percent of the facade “does not meet any guideline that we would support today,” so they are allowing the windows.

At 398 Beacon St., applicant Ron Payne proposed, among other things, to replace windows at the front facade and rear elevation, install a new wood deck and iron railing, and install copper cladding, mahogany doors, brick paving, and new landscaping in the courtyard.

Payne said that the roof deck is set back 18 inches off the sides and 4 feet from the front, and will sit atop the garage. In the courtyard, he is looking to change the doors to a more French-style door. In the other courtyard, he said it will have traditional copper with French doors, and they will not be keeping the bedroom suite. Payne said this courtyard cannot be seen anywhere except from the sky.

Sue Prindle said  that she heard from an abutter about a drainage issue in the alley, and the project team responded by saying they are aware of it and it will be dealt with. The Commission approved the project with the understanding that the drainage issue is gone over with the staff.

Lastly, at 320 Beacon St., applicant Dianne Hodgetts proposed to remove a cherry tree in the rear yard. She said that the tree is currently on top of the sewer line.

It’s a “pretty tight space back there,” she said, with a number of plantings along the righthand side. She said any replacement tree would “have to be something very small,” as there is a sewer line on the other side of the wall as well. She said her plan is to consult someone to fins something that could fit in that area. The Commission approved the tree removal with the proviso that Hodgetts work with the Garden Club of the Back Bay and details be sent to staff regarding the choice of the new planting.

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