Showing posts from January, 2019

Building a better triple decker

The "triple decker" is Boston's most iconic architectural artifact, and  a testimony to the economic boom a century ago. The modest homes provided the base for hard-working families--generally, immigrants--to pursue their version of the American dream. 

Laid out as three or six, stacked flat units, the buildings tended to be long and narrow. Generally unconnected to their neighbors, the freestanding building afforded light and air to enter the building in all directions, and characteristically provided front and/or rear decks for occupants to grab some fresh air. Like perforated blocks, the flat-roofed, the buildings created a predictable street rhythm and neighborly dialogue between pedestrian and inhabitant. It was the perfect Victorian model of workforce housing and the backdrop for Boston's boom.

En masse, the triple decker ruled Dorchester,  Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Roslindale, with thousands of blocks being created until the early 1900's. Built like tank…

Understanding the Benefits of Adaptive Reuse Projects

Many architects dream of designing gleaming new structures on a large scale. The chance to etch one's name on the skyline of a great city like New York or Chicago is deeply alluring, and likely always will be. But architects in cities that have already experienced decades or even centuries of development know that working within the built environment to breathe new life into existing structures can be just as rewarding. Adaptive reuse projects have grown in prominence thanks to factors like an emphasis on sustainability and the re-urbanization of many major American cities.

Architectural Heritage 
A generation ago, one of the defining trends of social geography was the growth of suburbs as people left downtown for the space and safety of the suburbs. In cities like Atlanta, Detroit, and Boston, this hollowed out the urban cores, which often succumbed to poverty and blight. Today, people (especially young people) are moving back into the city center, drawn by affordable housing, …