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News & Updates

BPDA releases Boston Civic Design Commission 2019 Annual Report

Feb 13, 2020

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) released the Boston Civic Design 
Commission (BCDC) 2019 Annual Report, highlighting the Commission’s work over the past year. The BCDC, managed by the BPDA’s Urban Design Department, is charged with reviewing large development projects in order to protect and enhance Boston’s public realm through the design process. 

Following the appointment of three new Commissioners, the Commission adopted new principles and priorities intended to guide the Commission’s review processes. These include:
  • Accessible Open Space- The BCDC encourages each project to provide thoughtful, public open space that addresses human and ecological resilience, prioritizes street-level improvements and response to the site and neighborhood context.
  • Height, Scale and Massing- The Commissioners will look to city-wide initiatives such as Imagine Boston 2030 and BPDA planning and precinct studies, and reference their experiences as practitioners, in an effort to offer the best guidance possible on height, scale and massing. 
  • Parking and Mobility-The Commission believes the provision of abundant and inexpensive public parking in the City should be questioned in light of a larger nationwide movement to recover space from cars, provide a better pedestrian experience and demonstrate environmental best practices. Public transit and new mobility scenarios should be considered in all development projects.
  • Design Creativity- With a mind to quality, sustainability and contemporary 21st century expression, the Commission asks proponents and designers to propose thoughtful projects that advance Boston’s identity as an internationally recognized hub of design creativity while respecting its unique character. 

Last year, the BCDC reviewed over 50 projects and approved 28 projects in 15 different neighborhoods, including:
  • 282-306 Bremen Street, East Boston- Details, like an expanded public realm and facade patterning, were finessed through the BCDC process. The Commission upholds this project as a model for mid-scale residential projects for its creative, yet economical design. 
  • Alexandra Hotel, South End/Roxbury- The BCDC and South End Landmarks District Commission met jointly with the development team to study options that best showcase and restore the historic facade. 
  • Boston University Center for Computing and Data Sciences, Fenway- The project will be a campus landmark, visible from Boston and Cambridge, and the BCDC worked closely with the development team to shape the volume and facade patterning.
  • Commonwealth Pier, South Boston Waterfront- The BCDC worked with the development team to program the main public plaza and activate the edges of the site to draw pedestrians to the waterfront.
  • Kenmore Hotel (One Kenmore Square), Fenway- The focus of the Commission’s comments were the building scale and public realm improvements. The project will add 32,000 square feet of public realm improvements, including protected bike lanes and a pedestrian plaza. 
  • Parcel 12 MassDOT Turnpike Air Rights, Back Bay- Through the Commission and public processes, the project’s ground floor was opened to create a half-acre of public space, which will serve as a public destination at the nexus of Boylston and Newbury Streets.

The BCDC holds public meetings on the first Tuesday of every month, and the public is encouraged to attend. To sign-up for BCDC notifications, click here
Read the 2019 BCDC Annual Report here

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