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Hope for Boston's Abandoned Projects

filenes I get a little sad every time I pass by the Filene's basement building, located at 426 Washington St in Downtown Boston.  Designed by renown architect and planner, Daniel Hudson Burnham, the Filene's building was built in 1912 to serve as the flagship for the Filene's Department Store.   In 2006, the buyers of the building planned to build a 38 story tower on the property.  proposedtowerThe $700 million high-rise designed by Elkus Manfredi would feature retail and office space, 140 residence, a 207 room boutique hotel, and a health club and spa.  I was looking forward to the completion of the project as I thought it could play a large role in transforming the Downtown Crossing area.  Alas due to the economy, the project was halted in November 2008.  The Filene's building is among quite a few local projects to be stalled during construction.  Other projects include the Harvard Science Complex in Allston, the Longwood Center Biotech Lab and the Columbus Center in the South End.  According to this article by Casey Ross and Jesse Nunes of the Boston Globe, the city is challenging designers and artists to re-imagine these eye sores to once again incorporate them into the fabric of the city.   Take a look at some of the projects and choose your favorites.  And is welcoming submissions of your design ideas as well.


The most provocative designs shown were for the Filene's building.  Coming in first for me was the  Filene's Design #1 by Howeler + Yoon Architecture and Squared Design.  The building would be transformed into an algae-powered bioreactor.    While I won't pretend to understand the technology - the design involves robotic arms and pre-fabricated modules or "eco pods".  I was struck by the creativity of the design.


A close second is the Filene's Design #4 by Neoscape.  The design incorporates a large interactive screen that can be controlled by visitors on touch screens on the fencing along the site perimeter.   The designs were all impressive and I am glad that the city is taking steps to make these abandoned projects more aesthetically pleasing.  While some of these designs are quite innovative, I began to worry about cost as that was the problem in the first place.

A Grown Up Home on a Budget


I was checking out one of favorite sites, Apartment Therapy for some inspiration for a project and what do I see?  My roommate Emmy and I’s condo as an example for an article titled, “10 Tips: A Grown Up Home (for Less)” There are some of the same helpful hints I included in my article Small Space, Big Style including eliminating clutter and transforming the room with paint.  I enjoyed other cost saving tips as well including shopping sales and creating decorative vignettes.  And the tips on mixing it up were dead on - I detest spaces that resemble West Elm or IKEA catalogs.  While their catalogs and showrooms can provide great inspiration, it is important to ensure that your space has an identity and reflects you and your sense of style.  And never buy “sets” of furniture for the same reason.  One of my clients is on a very strict budget and we purchased several things from IKEA but we are mixing it up with custom furniture and vintage finds.  And my other favorite tip, is patience, I must admit that I am impatient myself – I have often caught myself saying, “I want it now!”  However with home furnishings, I have learned that waiting can make a huge difference in grabbing a knock-off  modern chair from Crate and Barrel to finding the real thing on craigslist, a yard sale, or at a antiques market.  So, be patient with your space and make it reflect you.  To see the full article on Apartment Therapy, click here.

Small Space, Big Style



1.  Build Up! In a small space, it is important to think vertically to maximize storage space by adding shelving above and concealed storage below.   I used pieces of walnut veneered plywood as shelving above the bed and added white shelving in the closet.

2. Accent wall Many people think that light walls will always make a space feel larger; this is a common misconception, try an accent wall in a deeper tone, like the silver color I used – this dark color recedes and makes the room look larger.

3. Don’t be afraid of drapery The largest challenge in this space is the door leading to the deck.  The drapes allow privacy when needed and adds drama to the space.  I love the grommet style but others work just as well.  Drapery looks best when there is volume, so I always grab additional sets (in this case 3) but that is up to you.  These curtains were $40 for a set of two from IKEA.

Previously there were sliding doors on the closet, which can drive one crazy when one needs to reach something quickly.  The solution: the same curtains used on the other wall in an off-white that matches the wall for a clean look. [more...]