115 Winthrop Square PNF Comment Letter

115 Winthrop Square PNF Comment Letter

January 20, 2017

Casey Hines, Senior Project Manager
Boston Planning and Development Agency
Boston City Hall
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201

Re: 115 Winthrop Square PNF

Dear Ms. Hines:

WalkBoston is Massachusetts’ leading pedestrian advocacy organization. We have reviewed the Project Notification Form for this project and believe that it will provide benefits to the economic strength and vitality of downtown Boston by replacing a dilapidated parking garage that has blighted the Winthrop Square neighborhood for decades. We also believe that there are several issues that require further evaluation and improvement.

1. The Great Hall that has been proposed has the potential to be an exciting gathering place that attracts people from both downtown and Boston’s neighborhoods. We urge that the Great Hall be open to the public 18 hours a day, 52 weeks a year and that it be given programming that goes well beyond a food and shopping court. The ground floor of the building (both as part of the Great Hall and also adjacent to the Great Hall) should have rooms and spaces for talking, working or observing. Programs to encourage use of the space will be essential. The proponent should clarify the plan for activating this space, including the types of programs and the agency or individuals who will be assigned the task of programming and managing the space. We urge the Proponent to provide a description of the mix of uses, the cost to users
(for events that are open to the public), and the anticipated intensity of programming that is to be provided in the Great Hall.

2. Because of its prominent, strategic location, the Great Hall will also be a walking connection between Federal and Devonshire Streets that adds to Downtown’s rich tradition of publicly accessible lanes and alleys. The balance between circulation space and usable public space should be carefully studied and described.

3. Wind studies of the building should identify its impacts on pedestrians using adjacent streets and sidewalks. Wind may also be a factor in the design of the Great Hall, where pedestrians and users of the space should be protected from gusts or periodic and protracted winds around the building.

4. Pedestrian scale lighting should be designed to enhance the usefulness and attractiveness of both interior and exterior portions of the building with attention to creation of a sense of place, traffic safety at street crossings and personal safety.

5. We urge the Proponent to explore building shapes, heights and orientations to reduce or eliminate shadow impacts on the Common and Public Garden.

6. We also urge the City and the Proponent to work with the many organizations and individuals who are deeply concerned that the project will set a precedent that allows shadow impacts on the Common and Public Garden. Prior to approval of the project, the City should describe permanent and binding protections for the Common and the Public Garden from further shadow impacts.

Thank you very much for your consideration of our comments.


Wendy Landman
Executive Director

Cc: Senator William Brownsberger
Senator Joseph Boncore
Representative Jay Livingstone
Representative Aaron Michlewitz
Representative Byron Rushing
City Council President Michelle Wu
Elizabeth Vizza, Friends of the Public Garden
Howard Kassler, Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay
Patricia Tully, Beacon Hill Civic Association
Greg Galer, Boston Preservation Alliance
Todd Lee, LightBoston
Kathleen MacNeil, Millennium Partners
Cindy Schlessinger, Epsilon Associates

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