Marlborough Street, with its rows of brownstones, brick sidewalks, and wrought iron fences, has all of the history and charm that make it one of the most desirable residential streets in Boston. Designing a new building to replace inappropriate 1960s infill on such an iconic streetscape required a sensitive balance of new expression with appropriate height, scale, materials, and detailing. Collaborating with the Back Bay Architectural District Commission, the design team spent months developing the design and addressing site challenges. The massing of the new building skillfully mediates the significant height differences between its historic neighbors while referencing design elements of each in a modern form. Reinforcing the character and texture of the neighborhood, the new building uses materials found throughout the Back Bay such as brick and precast limestone with an emphasis on quality and durability. The new building embraces its architectural context such as bay windows without attempting to mimic the historic architecture. Four51 Marlborough demonstrates that with careful attention to detail and a sensitive design, new buildings in historic districts can be both contextually appropriate and contemporary.
“New infill amongst historic structures is one of the most difficult challenges architects face,” said Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. “Four51 Marlborough shows that careful consideration of context and significant detailing can be respectful and appropriately referential to historic design while creating a thoroughly modern building. It’s a challenging needle to thread as successfully as in this project. The building is fascinating to examine in the richness of its façade and how it plays off its surroundings.”