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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.

DESIGN TREND: Wood Furniture


I have been obsessed with hand crafted wood furniture, since I designed and built my first piece of furniture a couple years ago.  The construction, the joinery, the attention to detail.  When I was in New York last week, I happened upon the store, From The Source in the Dumbo, Brooklyn (Dumbo = Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).  The company is based in both the U.S. and Indonesia and houses products designed and hand made by artisans in Indonesia.  I loved the above teak and steel shelf and immediately thought that I need to design furniture again.  The design is simple and at the pretty hefty cost of $1050, I am considering making my own version – we’ll see.  I also loved the box joined Ciao coffee table and nightstands also in solid teak .  They remind me of the “C” table that I designed which has box joints at the Oak  ”C” element.   A box joint is similar to a dove tail, however dove tails are significantly more difficult to acheive as the cuts are angled and must fit perfectly.  The box joint is not exactly a cop out.  Although the cuts are straight (boxes), you still have to mirror your spacing.  Yep, the top and bottom of my table are slightly smaller than designed because I messed that up.


The last piece, I wanted to walk out of there with was the Ligna chair, also teak, OK yes I really love teak…anyway, at least this one is in a dark brown lacquer, although a clear version is also available.  I could see the clear ones as patio chairs.  Check out the From the Source website for more information and their full furniture collections.

My two favorite companies that specialize in custom wood furniture are on the higher end side, Hudson furniture and BDDW.  Here are some of my favorite pieces from Hudson.  On a side note, if anyone wants to buy me the Atlantis chandelier – that would be fine by me.  And I will work on getting the mansion to put it in.


Hudson Diva SofaHudson Divan Sofa
Hudson Plexi ConsoleHudson Plexi Console

While Hudson Furniture is elegant and sleek, there is something more rugged about the BDDW aesthetic.  Although there are many options for beds with wood slab headboards, I love the BDDW slab bed the best.  It features a sleek low slab of  Live Edge Claro walnut and rests on the floor.  And they couldn’t have shown the bed better than in this lofty space with exposed brick and paired with that quilted cowhide rug….I just want to walk right in to that space and relax.

BDDW Slab BedBDDW Slab Bed
BDDW Lake CredenzaBDDW Lake Credenza
BDDW Leaf Coffee TableBDDW Leaf Coffee Table
I highly recommend checking out the Hudson Furniture and BDDW websites.  At BDDW take a moment to look at the photo album – I enjoyed it.