Located at the prominent corner of Mass Ave and Tremont Street in Boston’s South End neighborhood, this beautiful apartment building has long caught my eye, but I finally got around to looking up its history! The building was constructed in 1896-7 by Albert Geiger, a real estate developer who sold the completed building to a Josiah P. C. Marshall. The building is Classical Revival in style and had eleven suites for rental. The blond brick building with Indiana limestone trim are gorgeous, but the showstoppers are the metal bay windows with decorative wreaths and garlands.
Replacing a vacant lot bordering I-93 at Kneeland Street, the One Greenway development provides much needed housing and design as one of the gateways into the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston. A result of community engagement, One Greenway is one of the largest new affordable housing projects in recent memory. The project restores the urban fabric that was lost half a century ago to the construction of major highways, which cut through the community and provides much-needed affordable housing in one of the nation’s oldest and largest immigrant communities. When the elevated highway was moved underground and the Rose Kennedy Greenway was laid out, parcels adjacent were available for reuse, and this was one of the last to be redeveloped. The building mixes 217 market-rate apartments and 95 affordable apartments, to create a mixed-income development, hopefully the future, as to not segregate affordable housing to less-desirable parts of cities. Designed by the firm Stantec, the building creates a solid street wall at the corner, and provides amazing open space at the rear in the form of a well-designed park designed by Crosby, Schlessinger, and Smallridge. The use of beige terracotta panels makes the large building more inviting, compared to the cold and sterile new apartment buildings going up all over the city and region.
The Flatiron Building in New York is an excellent example of how New Yorkers maximize any piece of land, no matter how small or what shape, to generate an amazing architectural statement. This skinny lot was previously home to a one-story car wash, serving as an unacceptable entry into the SoHo neighborhood. The tight wedge-shaped lot was envisioned for a higher use and Tamarkin Co. Architects developed one of my favorite recent projects in the city, 10 Sullivan. The innovative design gives me serious Art Moderne vibes with the curving forms and strong horizontal lines. The use of brick creates a feeling of warmth and blends the modern building in with the surrounding historic structures nearby.
A collection of seven picturesque Spanish style triple-deckers on Rawson Road provide density while adding to the idillic quality of Aspinwall Hill. Developed in 1913, the homes were developed by Alexander C. Chisholm, who owned the parcels. Chisholm was a Brookline real estate developer and builder who resided at nearby and maintained an office on Beacon Street. His advertisement in the town’s 1913 directory noted he offered “apartment houses for sale and to-let”. Before entering the real estate market in Brookline, Chisholm was known for the design and construction of apartment houses in Dorchester and Roxbury. The Spanish Revival buildings are all wood frame and clad with stucco. Sitting upon raised fieldstone foundations, the houses feature porches, bracketed hoods over entrances and windows, and decorative parapets, all common in Spanish revival architecture.
The Hotel Touraine at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets in Boston was built in 1897 as one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. Designed by the local firm of Winslow and Wetherell, the Jacobean Revival style building commands the well-trafficked corner opposite the Boston Common. Early articles described the hotel as “a large and sumptuously equipped house, with internal decorations in the style of the Chateau de Blois (a French chateau). Winslow and Wetherell appeared to have been inspired by the Louis XII wing of the Chateau, as many design elements of the hotel closely resemble it. The hotel was advertised as having 350 rooms valued at $2 a night up to $3 a night for a room with a private bath. Separate men and women’s parlors, a library, and elevator service made the hotel desirable for the upper-class Bostonians and visitors to the bustling Downtown area. The hotel’s rich clientele eventually began frequenting the larger hotels near Copley Square and the stature of the Touraine slipped with a changing Downtown character. By the 1960s, the hotel closed and was converted to apartments.
A later addition to the Lindens section of Brookline Village, this wood-frame apartment building is a great addition to the streetscape. Rising three stories, the Queen Anne building features four main bays with a mixture of oriels and bay windows to break up the facade. The multiple projections allowed for light and air to circulate in the units, a concern for many early apartment buildings. The building was constructed for J. W. Tobey, as an income property. The building has since been converted to condominium units.
The (general) perception of apartment buildings is monolithic monstrosities plopped into neighborhoods with little ornamentation or intrugue, but that is not the case for the Rudnick Apartments in North Brookline. Located at the intersection of Coolidge and Gibbs Streets, these Classical Revival apartments were designed by Frederick A Norcross, who may just be the busiest architect in the early 20th century around Boston. Norcross designed many apartment and commercial buildings in Boston, Brookline and Cambridge, being the unsung hero of many walkable urban neighborhoods in sections of these cities. The apartments were built for Morris Rudnick (1875-1970), a Russian born Jew who settled in Boston before starting a coal business in Cambridge with his brothers and cousins. He later bought land in North Brookline and developed areas with attractive single family homes and apartment buildings.
The red brick building dominates the corner lot with the clipped corner, red brick and contrasting glazed stone to resemble marble. Elaborate door surrounds, window lintels and the parapet make the apartment building an elaborate example of the Classical Revival style.