BHAC Subcommittee Hears Preliminary Plans for 9 Spruce Court

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission convened a virtual subcommittee meeting on Friday, March 29, to discuss preliminary plans for modifications to the exterior of the property at 9 Spruce Court.

Nick Landry, founding principal of Boston-based DRT (design/resource/team), and Tony King, DRT’s director of operations, own the six-unit building,, which they intend to convert it into a single-family residence.

(While Spruce Street is a public way, Spruce Place and Spruce Court are both private, so much of the proposed work wouldn’t be visible from a public way and therefore outside of the BHAC’s purview.)

On the building’s Spruce Court-fronting façade, an existing fire escape would be removed, said Landry, while the number of windows would be reduced from nine now to six. A new glass bay is also proposed for this façade but that, along with a new roofdeck, wouldn’t be visible from a public way, he said.

Chair Mark Kiefer advised Landry that the commission would likely request a mockup for the rooftop railing to ensure that it can’t be seen from a public way.

Additionally, the placement of five existing windows on the building’s façade fronting Spruce Place would be reconfigured into a more symmetric pattern, said Landry, while the new windows would be about 20 percent larger than they are today. Two windows on the lowest level of this façade would also be removed, he said.

Commissioner Maurice Finegold expressed a preference for the current ‘asymmetrical’ configuration of the windows, while Chair Kiefer advised Landry that such seemingly ‘out-of-place’ features can often actually contribute to the neighborhood’s unique and varied architectural character.

Landry responded that the applicant had assumed the commission would prefer a more symmetrical window arrangement but said he could explore keeping a more asymmetrical window arrangement. He also described the variety of windows in the building as a “mismatch” and added that none of them appear to have any historic value.

Since the new proposed bay would likely require a variance from the city for a FAR (Floor Area Ratio) increase, Chair Kiefer and BHAC staff (Nicholas Armata) advised Landry that the applicant would need to secure any necessary zoning relief from the city in advance of appearing before the commission.

Landry had previously come before the commission at its Jan. 18 monthly meeting, which was also held virtually, to present a plan to relocate an existing door on the corner of the Spruce Place façade to between Spruce Place and Spruce Place. The commission voted by a majority at this time to approve the application, with some provisos.

At the subcommittee meeting, Landry said the door project was around 80-percent finished. The door has been relocated, he said, while the old door on Spruce Place had yet to be infilled.

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