Richard E. Edwards House // 1981

The Colonial era has had a grip on New England residential design since the 1700s, with each subsequent “revival” showcasing the character-defining features in bold new ways. With this house on College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, the architect, Friedrich St. Florian, blended traditional Colonial Revival residential design with the flair and quirkiness that comes with the Post-Modern style, popular in the 1980s. The house is five bays wide at the facade with a central projecting bay at the entrance. Post-Modernism takes architectural precedence and turns it on its head, with quirky takes on features and larger proportions. The Edwards House exhibits decorative stone lintels, a Classically inspired entry with pilasters, and a very large cupola at the roof. What do you think of this house? I feel it works well for the neighborhood as it is contextual to the surrounding Colonial-era and Colonial Revival style residences while clearly being of the late 20th century.

Langham Court // 1991

Image courtesy of Goody/Clancy

Appropriate infill construction can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, with some developments hitting the mark and others adversely impacting the historic neighborhoods where they were built. Boston is home to many examples of both occurrences, but I wanted to share a very successful infill project in the South End neighborhood, Langham Court. As the South End resurfaced as a desirable neighborhood, long-time residents were priced out, which led to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to fund projects to provide much-needed housing for the local community. This site which once housed over 20 townhouses, was razed by the 1960s in a period of urban renewal where existing housing was deemed unsafe and inadequate. The local design firm of Goody/Clancy was hired, and they masterfully designed a U-shaped complex of 84 mixed-income units that fits well within its surroundings. The design exhibits dormers, bays, arched and vaulted entries, a combination of mansard and flat roofs, stringer courses and textured brickwork, and a palette of well chosen materials all at a scale that blends in the 1990s building to its surroundings which came nearly 150 years prior. The complex remains as a testament to good-quality design even for affordable housing, which notoriously gets the short end of the stick design-wise.

Forest Hills Station // 1987

Photo courtesy of Cambridge Seven

While the demolition of the 1909 Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain (last post) was a huge architectural and historic loss for the city of Boston, the present building is a landmark in its own right. The present building was built in 1987 as a pivotal project in the MBTA’s Southwest Corridor Improvement Program, which was largely unfinished (thanks to neighborhood pushback and protests against the proposed highway to cut through the neighborhoods). The existing station, designed by local firm Cambridge Seven, is situated between two important points in Boston’s “Emerald Necklace” park system, and thus was given the appearance of a greenhouse by the architects. The distinctive clock tower, rising 120 feet above the station, signals the station location and is a nod to the days when stations once had prominent clocks to help passengers keep tabs on the time, before the days of cellphones!