BBAC Approves Flag Holder, Roof Deck, and Skylight

The Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) met for its monthly meeting on Jan. 8, where proposals were discussed for a flag holder on Newbury Street, enlarging a previously approved roof deck on Arlington Street, and install retractable skylight at the Algonquin Club on Commonwealth Avenue.

117 Newbury St.

First up was a proposal to add a Union Jack flag to the Fatface popup at 117 Newbury St. The architect proposed a flag holder that would be mounted into the ground right at the front of the store. She said that Fatface, a brand from the UK, has about 10 stores in New England and would like to have the flag at this location to “represent their roots in the UK.”

Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, said that the only thing under review is the holder itself, since national flags are exempt from approval by the Commission. If the flag had any branding on it, then the Commission would be required to review it.

The architect said that it “wasn’t practical” to affix the flag to the side of the building, due to its rough and bumpy surface, and it would also be too much work for a store that is just a popup.

“It bothers me that it’s a precedent,” Commissioner John Christiansen said of the flag being mounted on the ground. He said he doesn’t mind the flag itself, “but the location bothers me.” 

“I think it looks nice,” Commissioner Robert Weintraub said.

The Commission voted to approve the application with the proviso that the holder is removed at the end of Fatface’s tenancy.

10-11 Arlington St.

Mark Van Brocklin of Embarc architecture firm came back with a different proposal for 10-11 Arlington St., as a previous one was denied at last November’s hearing. Van Brocklin said that in the rear of the building in the alley, they are proposing to remove the fire escapes from the top floor, as well as enlarge a previously approved roof deck and construct a copper-clad headhouse.

He said the headhouse would be for access to the roof deck and the mechanical equipment, and would not be visible from the public alley, Arlington Street, or the western side of the Public Garden. “You only see it when you get to the pond,” he said.

Tom High of backbayhouses.org said that these are “very important buildings” on Arlington Street. He said they are part of a group of four symmetrical buildings that were once part of a whole set of symmetrical buildings. “It’s important that modern things not be visible,” he added. “We want to really commend the architect and Joe [Cornish] on getting the height of this down. I think it’s acceptable.”

The Commission approved the application with the proviso that the approval does not constitute a precedence of any kind.

217 Commonwealth Ave.

Architect Guy Grassi was back before the Commission with another small proposal for the Algonquin Club building. This building has been before the Commission several times over the past year, as it is undergoing a complete renovation.

This time, Grassi proposed a retractable skylight at the eastern courtyard of the building, as “my client would like to provide a four-season enclosure,” he said. He said that at six stories, the Algonquin Club is taller than the adjacent building, so there wouldn’t be any issues with other buildings being able to look into the club through the skylight.

“The whole structure will be below the line of the party wall,” Grassi said, “not visible from any place.” He added that there are also no decks in the surrounding area, so the only way anyone could see the skylight is up above the roof lines.

Tom High called this an “excellent proposal,” and the Commission voted to approve it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.