When the image of what will be the centerpiece of developer's Chris Starr's Cushing Village development was projected onto the screen during the Planning Board's meeting Tuesday night, the rendering brought an immediate response from one resident.
"Oh, my Lord!" said the Belmont Street resident who would live two houses from the $80 million project, referring to the four-story building (She refused repeated efforts to be identified, only to say that she doesn't "talk to anyone.")
The outburst, which prompted Planning Board Chairman Sami Baghdady to remind people that keep their comments on design issues for a later date, came as Smith Legacy Partners presented a flushed out design for the Pomona Building, the largest of the three buildings making up the Cushing Village design.
Along with the presentation on the new building was the Planning Board's traffic consultant who questions several assumptions in the developer's traffic analysis.
Traffic Consultant Kerry Pike of Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates had concerns on how the number of trips generated by the development was calculated, assumptions made by the development team on time impacts on traffic and the location of the public spaces in the garage.
Pike told Belmont Patch after the meeting that her concerns were a first look at the developer's analysis and hopes to have a better understanding how Smith Legacy came up with its calculations after sitting down with their traffic consultant.
"My hope is that a traffic and parking management plan can be developed to resolve the concerns the Board and the public may have," said Pike. That plan could include adding a Zipcar station in the development, advertise the availability of public transportation, sell parking spaces separate from the apartments and encourage residents and commercial owners not to take on-street parking.
Most of the night's presentation highlighted the second of three buildings that the Smith Legacy Partners has created a far more complete design plan that is wrapped within the size and density guidelines the Planning Board set for the project.
The Ponoma is currently 74,300 square feet of total space with 20,700 square feet for stores and up to 50 apartment units.
With project architect Paul Quinn leading the discussion, the Ponoma images show a four floor – a ground floor retail space and three floors of residential housing – with large floor-to-ceiling windows running along the length of the curved building. There will be a ground-floor glazed canopy with a decorative metal outside the main entry.
A Cushing Clock
The major feature of the building is a modified tower that is 10 feet higher than the 48-foot roof line with an illuminating polychrome clock looking over Cushing Square.
In addition, the design details looking out over the square are as prominent as the clock. Where the building curves to accommodate the intersection of Common and Trapelo and just below the clock, the building is covered with a warm yellow stucco with a falling line of decorative tile work. Three sets of two windows with false balconies are under the clock in between the tiles. The sidewalk will be large enough, 12 to 15 feet, from the building to the street allowing for pedestrian interaction.
"We've developed a corner with a lovely facade," said Quinn.
Moving from either side of the center tower section, the building juts out several feet to reclaim the sidewalk, using different colors and material to suggest segmentation of the structure as if they were townhouses, suggested Quinn. On the fourth floor, there are metal roofs over the windows with the false balonies while on the ground floor there is an awning along the building.
The design calls for a plaza accommodating both walkers and vehicles to be located on what is now Horne Road between the Pomona and the Hyland, the building that would be located at the corner of Belmont and Common streets where the former CVS was located. (The completed architectural design for the Hyland will be presented to the Board next month.)
The plaza, based on a piazza, will have retail space on both sides. The sidewalks are pushed out so there can be "a gathering place" with outdoor seating with benches and landscaping, said Quinn. The location will also be where vehicles enter the parking garage.
Quinn said the area will be similar to the area between Town Hall and the Homer Municipal Building with stone work and changing textures to calm traffic on the plaza.
While the one resident who made the statement when the presentation began considered the building's design "is going to kill us," the architectural consultant hired by the Planning Board to review the process believes the design accomplished the Board's goals for the building.
Steve Heikin of ICON Architecture of Boston told the board he believed Quinn has "made the space much better" than earlier designs and it "now works much better" to the Board's instructions created in July.
"I'm satisfied this is what the Planning Board hoped to see," said Heikin.
A bit of Paris
While the development team had suggested in earlier documents that the design for each building would evoke Belmont architecture, it appears Quinn placed into the Pamona's design strong aspects of the aesthetics of the "street-wall" that features in the familiar large Parisian apartment buildings built during the Hausmann's renovations of the last half of the 1800s.
According to Emily Kirkman in The Art History Archive, during that period, street blocks were designed as homogeneous architectural wholes with buildings not treated as independent structures but used to create a unified urban landscape as Cushing Village attempts.
The Pomona features "Juliet" balconies – also known as "French" or "Paris" balconies – a "false" mansard roof, ground floors with load-bearing walls, a building with bright hues and a prominent retail space on the ground floor.
In addition, seen with the Winslow building that was presented last month to the Planning Board, the facades of both structured are organised around horizontal lines that continue from one building to the next as seen in the Hausmann period.
Quinn would not discuss his inspiration for the Pomona.