Notes from April 12, 2012, meeting of Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force

The Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force held a meeting on Thursday, April 12, largely focused on the latest designs for the Ferdinand Building.  The goals of the meeting were to:

  1. Present the recent progress of the project’s design,
  2. Report on the historic preservation review process, and
  3. Solicit input from the community.

Nick Brooks of Sasaki Associates presented images depicting the latest design of the Ferdinand.  He showed different design options that the team had reviewed to emphasize preservation and block unification, ultimately settling on an exterior design that maintains the urban village character of the block.

The floor plans of the building are designed to include public spaces and retail on the first floor, and a flexible space to serve as the Boston School Committee room – and as publicly available assembly and meeting space – on the second floor.  There will also be flexible space available to the public on the top floor of the facility.

The administrative office space for the Boston Public Schools is designed to be open and flexible, with a minimum of private offices.  This design approach is more cost-effective for the project budget, and promotes a high level of collaboration within departments.

The 15,000 square feet of retail on the first floor is expected to help activate the block and provide life to the building beyond the 9 to 5 schedule.

The project’s proposed green roof is in accord with the City ofBoston’s approach to sustainable design for public buildings.

The project has recently applied to the Boston Landmarks Commission for a waiver of the Article 85 Demolition Delay period (a 90 day waiting period prior to selective demolition on historic structures).  Due to the project team’s diligence in preservation efforts, the delay period was waived, so the work on the Ferdinand, the Curtis Block and theJ.S.WatermanBuildingcan proceed.

Generally, Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force members and other community members were strongly supportive of the design direction, and looked forward to more progress.  They shared the following concerns and ideas:

  • Ensuring that the design maintains a focus on public space in the building for educational opportunities.  The project team encouraged community members with specific educational programming ideas to reach out to the Boston Public Schools to understand what is already being done, and what is possible.  Task Force members added that program ideas should not limit the flexible design of the public space for all users.
  • The design of the public space should allow for those not directly affiliated with the Boston Public Schools to use and enjoy it.
  • The design team was asked to review recent successfully completed projects in the area to get ideas for the final façade design.  Certain brick patterning on a Wentworth Institute building at the corner of St. Alphonsus Street and Huntington Avenue was provided as one example.
  • Consideration should be given to highlighting Dudley Square, possibly with an installation or sign at Melnea Cass Boulevard.
  • The design should focus on maximizing its connection with the Dudley Station.
  • The overall design should consider a refuge island at the prow of theFerdinandBuildingfor pedestrian and traffic safety.
  • The design should incorporate an ability to balance public access with operational security.

The next Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 26th at the Central Boston Elder Services Building, 2315 Washington Street, Dudley Square, Roxbury.

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