The shrinking pencil tower

The Boston Globe | By Tim Logan
September 12, 2016

A skinny tower proposed for Tremont Street across from Boston Common is again shrinking, to the point where it looks more like a ordinary midrise building.

The developers behind 171 Tremont Street are now proposing to build a 12-story building just 175 feet high, about half the height of its original proposal, and roughly as tall as two neighboring buildings.

It was the third time Swiss real estate developer Maurice Dabbah reduced the height of his proposed building, in part because of concerns about the shadows it would cast on the Common.

Subtracting the rooftop mechanical systems, the occupied portion of the building would be now 155 feet high, in line with existing zoning for the property. And it would no longer cast new shadows on the Boston Common.

“We’ve gone through this process a couple of times now and it became clear that anything over” existing zoning “was not desirable there for the community,” said Ross Cameron, a senior associate at architecture firm Elkus Manfredi, which designed the building. “Rather than fight this notion, my client took the high road and changed the project.”

The original proposal from Dabbah in late 2014 envisioned a Manhattan-style pencil tower just 50 feet wide but 31 stories high, on a tenth-of-an-acre lot on Tremont Street.

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