Dainty Dot Tower is Ready to Rise

The roadblocks have been lifted, the economy has rebounded, and the time has come to break ground. Nearly five years after I first learned of the dispute over a planned tower tower in Chinatown, the Boston Globe reports that construction of the 29-story tower is set to start over the next few months.

The tower, which will replace the abandoned Dainty Dots factory, will consist of 240 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, and should be completed by spring 2104.

A key goal of the project, developed by Swampscott-based Hudson Group North America and Forest City Enterprises Inc., based in Cleveland, is to help activate the area around the tower. To that end, the project will widen the Chinatown section of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, with about 2,200 square feet of outdoor space along the  park. The new building will also feature a large outdoor patio connected to a 5,000-square-foot restaurant.

Of course, 240 apartments at the edge of Chinatown will help foot traffic, too.

The building, designed by Boston architecture giants Elkus Manfredi Architects, Perkins Eastman and RODE Architects Inc., is a pretty standard E-M palette: a handsome if not terribly inspiring mix of glass, granite, and concrete. It will surely be a welcome sight as you approach Boston on the Southeast Expressway.

No, it’s not the most exciting design ever, but an apartment tower isn’t expected to be. Let’s hope one of the city’s financial, educational or bioscience  powerhouses adds a bit of spark to the Boston skyline soon.


Living with Art and the Art of Living at West Elm

I saw a tweet from someone yesterday that said, “By the time you turn 30, you should have at least one piece of original art in your home.” I don’t know if that’s a hard and fast rule, but at some point, you’ll want to start using art — original or otherwise — to enhance your personal space.

If you’re just starting to collect art, or are thinking of collecting, or have been collecting art but need a bit of a refresher, you’re in luck. This Saturday, from 10:00 to 11:00, West Elm and 20×200, the online gallery of affordable art, are teaming up to teach the fine art (get it?) of art collecting.

Learn how to build a collection, ways to display art, and “tips for integrating art into your everyday life”. I’m not quite sure what’s meant by that last part — maybe it’s about having art in your car, or in your cube at the office? Either way, you’re sure to learn something new.

These West Elm/20×200 are happening at both West Elms in Massachusetts, in Boston and Burlington.


Welcoming Decor8 Back to Boston

Saturday morning, Boston welcomed back one of our own, Decor8‘s Holly Becker!

Holly came to Boston from her home with her husband in Germany in support the launch of her first book, Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home. The event  started with Holly giving a how-to all about mood boards. I missed this part but was told that the second floor of Anthropologie was PACKED — an impressive fact, given that the Back Bay is more a place for brunch on a Saturday morning than a place for design discussion.

Following the mood board event, Holly signed books. The book signing was scheduled to end at 12:30, but the line just wasn’t having it. I picked up my copy of Decorate and got in line around 11:45, and ended up in front of Holly about an hour later. As I got to the head of the line, Holly greeted me with a, “Gradon?”

Yep, six years after first becoming blogging friends — starting in the same city — we finally got to meet each other!

She stood up, walked around the table, and gave me a hug. We had a quick chat (as quick as you can have with a pack of ravenous fans waiting in line) about the book, about loved ones in other countries, and about starting families — at least Holly and her husband starting a family. That’s the plan for the Beckers shortly after Holly gets back from tour (so exciting!)

I had to run off to spend the day with my family, and now Holly’s on her way to Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and finally, New York… before going back to Germany and her husband.

It was a shorter visit than I would have liked, but it was great to finally meet one of my first friends from the blogging world.

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New England Home’s 5 Under 40

5 Under 40 is New England Home‘s annual celebration of young talent, and this year’s awards ceremony is coming up.

On Thursday, September 15, join New England Home at presenting sponsonr Landri & Arcari‘s showroom on Stuart Street, where they will honor this year’s winners:



Furniture & Home Accessories

Each winner was given the chance to design a custom rug, which was then produced by Landry & Arcari. The rugs will be auctioned off at the event, with the proceeds going to benefit Barakat, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.–based charity promoting educational opportunities for women and children in central and south Asia.

I’m excited about this year’s event, as I’ve been a big fan of two of these designers for some time. The work Jinhee and her partner John Hong have done around the region — particularly the modern residences throughout the suburbs — are outstanding. Their Big Dig House is an icon of modern (as in of the present time) design.

Always a collaborator, Kelly’s been involved in the Boston design community for many years. I first came to know her through Etcetera Media, a textile product company she started with her husband, Chris Grimley of Over,Under. Then there’s Design Nearby, an annual holiday sale she curates with Ann Karash (of smartdames and the 47th.)

Tickets are available for $35 in advance, or $45 at the door. This is most certainly a can’t-miss event, and I look forward to seeing you there!


SHIFTboston asks, Why Stop?

Through its previous events, SHIFTboston has asked designers to rethink Boston, rethink experiencing Boston Harbor, even rethink the Moon. This time, SHIFTboston wants you to rethink… a commuter rail line?

For “WHY STOP?”, SHIFTboston has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan (great name, huh?) to challenge “urban planners, architects, urban designers, designers and landscape architects — professionals and students — to explore and visualize destinations along the proposed South Coast Rail extension, which will connect Boston to Taunton, New Bedford, and Fall River, Massachusetts.”

This is a great idea. As a Bostonian that doesn’t own a car, the idea of traveling out to New Bedford or Fall River would need to include a lot of planning — let alone a reason for making the trek. Why would we go through the effort?

This is where SHIFTboston comes in.

The planned extension of commuter rail lines from Boston’s South Station to the Massachusetts South Coast has the capacity for broader re-conception and re-imagination of the region. We encourage competitors to investigate and to explore the potential of this new network and its RESOURCES. Competitors might animate the rail system by adding to or enhancing the latent urban NETWORK. These NEW destinations could draw from the regional and local resources, industry and culture such as, universities, agriculture, arts, marine industry, historical institutions, tourism and recreation. FUN? Consider what has not yet been considered — contemporary communal and PUBLIC meeting places, open markets for local food production, a regional cultural campus of performance space and theaters connected by rail, or new research and development campuses or dense residential districts. The submission might explore these stopping points along the rail as part of system of supporting links which make up a greater network. The competitor might also choose to focus on further developing the central core of one or more of the cities on the line, such as Fall River or New Bedford.

Competitors can choose to submit a proposal for one of four locations: the New Bedford stop, the Fall River stop, Environment, or “You Tell Us” (which sounds at once like a cop out AND much more complex).

The jury includes representatives from architecture, urban planning, academia, and government:

  • Julia Czerniak, Director of UPSTATE and Associate Professor at Syracuse University School of Architecture, Syracuse, NY
  • Diane Georgopulos, Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (Mass Housing), Boston, MA
  • Greg Guimond, Deputy Director and Comprehensive Planning Manger of the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District (SRPEDD), Taunton, MA
  • Scott Lang, Mayor, New Bedford, MA
  • Edward Mitchell, Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Architecture and Principal of EMA, New Haven, CT
  • Chris Reed, Principal and Founder of Stoss Landscape Urbanism, Boston, MA
  • Adèle Naudé Santos, Dean of Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture, Cambridge, MA and Principal of Santos Prescott and Associates, San Francisco, CA
  • Michael Sorkin, Principal of Sorkin Studio, New York, NY

The winning competitor, as chosen by the jury, will present his or her concept at the SHIFTboston WHY STOP Forum in Boston in October among members of the jury, government, community and business leaders, local developers and regional economic development groups.

The winning entry will be featured in a new game for mobile devices which will be featured at the Forum and as part of the WHY STOP Exhibition. Winning and select submissions will be on public display as part of a traveling exhibition which will begin at South Station in Boston, the New Bedford Public Library and then Fall River begining in January of 2012.

Interested in submitting an entry? The deadline for submissions is one month from yesterday, Friday, September 16, 2011. To register, visit http://shiftboston.org/competitions/register.php