5/29/14 Design Review Committee Meeting 1

5/29/14 Design Review Committee Meeting

Thu May 29 6:30 – 8:30 PM

Somerville City Hall
3rd Fl. Conf. Rm.
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville MA (map)

Agenda (PDF)

This is the regular meeting of the Somerville Design Review Committee.

Agenda includes review of Partners HealthCare building design. Current design sets that end of complex in suburban mold. Design chops off view of Boston skyline from river and amputates Assembly Row street grid.

The Design Review Committee provides design criteria, guidance and recommendations to permit applicants. Its mandate is to maintain and enhance the natural, aesthetic, and cultural heritage of the City and to preserve the value of land and buildings. For more information, see:



One comment

  1. Beat Report: 5/29/14 Design Review Committee Meeting

    Bottom Line on Top

    Design Review Committee saw Partners site as terminus, discussed ways of making it a better terminus. Anne T. and David D. spoke of better connections with Somerville, improved sight lines, evaluating effect of building shadows. Assembly Square PUD update is to go to Planning Board June 19 with public hearing.

    Rough Notes

    Responses to presentations by FRIT and Partners HealthCare:

    Rough Site should connect to rest of Somerville.

    Could Sullivan Square end have a better introduction than parking?
    When you look thru the park, you see the garage. Need to make this an ending place.
    The site has two entrances. Need better handling of Sullivan Sq. end.

    Garage is blanking off majority of park. Day care is in strange place.

    Want something other than parking on Grand Union Blvd.

    Could recess parking and berm it a little to hide it.

    One reviewer missed Assembly Park on middle of linear park. We are losing the variety of urban space.

    [COMMENT: Several spoke of Partners site as terminus.]

    Put pavilions into linear park. We can shut down one side of boulevard.
    Better not to have the back of building toward T0stio.

    Some plazas are dead. Reviewer likes having a promenade thru Partners site, but then what are you going toward? The parking garage.

    [COMMENT: No questions about sightlines or circulation.]

    Block 6 is residential over retail, 400 units. Low rise is 4 stories of res over 2 stories retail. Put special sight wall on Canal Street.

    There’s an uninstructed view of Boston from block 6 tower. There is retail space near T-stop. The tower is on the site away from Main Street. There are to be office tenants in blocks 5, 7, 8.

    Want to check shadows around environment.

    The hearing is June 19 for PUD at PB.

    George P., said members of public may want to speak if they would allow. Committee said OK.

    Anne T. spoke first. Difficult when we see something so late there’s nothing to be done about it. Said they are assuming Partners is a terminus, but it isn’t. There is Somerville and Boston on the Sullivan Sq. end. Home Depot won’t be there forever. If all people see when coming from Sullivan Sq. is a parking garage, that’s all there will be forever. Building should have more transparency over the entrance to preserve sight lines from river direction.

    David D. spoke second, seconded Anne’s ideas, stated we really need the road to go through the building. He raised technical issue of shadow diagrams that cut off main building so shadow looks shorter than parking garage. Suggested Design Review Committee look at shadows because nearby streets could be dark most of the time in the winter.

    [COMMENT: Fred B. afterwards suggested widening pass-through opening and arching it. Even better, I think, is to have road through building with retail along it all the way to Grand Union Blvd.]

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