Saturday, August 31, 2013

Targeting New Urban Fabric Restoration, Installment No. 1: Cambridge Street at Blossom Street

View 1: Looking across mid-block, from N. Anderson Street to Blossom Street.
View 2: Looking up Cambridge Street toward Blossom Street.
View 3: Looking back across the corner of Cambridge and Blossom
with the main Mass. General complex in the background.

The Location: 239 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA. 

The Series: We've tended to come along after the fact and write about good moves after they've happened. While we here at RTUF will continue doing so, we also thought it might be interesting to point the camera at places that need restoration and give them some attention before that happens (and maybe even encourage something to happen sooner rather than later). So, herewith, Installment 1 of Targeting New Urban Fabric Restoration...

The Story: The Gulf gas station that used to stand at this site is gone, torn down pretty much immediately after the Mass. General bought the site a couple years ago. It looks like the hospital also pulled out the underground tanks at the same time, tossed on some gravel and leveled it off, so the site is ready for action. Unfortunately, there is no action, at least not yet. Let's hope it's not too long before something does happen here. Moving the gas station off was a good thing for Cambridge Street, especially given its suburban/pumps-out-front configuration, but this is an important corner that is now totally blank (MGH isn't even parking vehicles on the site itself, though they are doing it on the adjacent parcels). And it's not like MGH doesn't know how to take an underperforming street front and make it much better, as this weblog has previously reported in MGH creates an enhanced front door on Cambridge Street and as you can almost see behind the trees at the left in View 3, where a more-than-adequate liner building was constructed sometime in the 1990s (I believe) to hide the garage in the block between N. Anderson and N. Grove. The RTUF sketch below tries to point out the critical piece of corner frontage that needs to be created here too, and I do believe it will be important to go up at least a few stories to be a strong counterpoint to the relatively tall, aesthetically challenged hotel across Blossom.

The RTUF Sketch: The corner, as almost all corners are, is most important, though stretching the the building frontage along Blossom to come closer to or even meet the existing building also makes sense.