The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) on August 23 approved the proposal for Blessed Sacrament Church with a few provisos.
Architect Philippe Charles Saad presented the proposal, which has been before the Commission for multiple advisory reviews this year, and was finally ready for a vote.
The Church, which is being developed by Pennrose and the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), will be repurposed to include 55 affordable apartments along with a multipurpose indoor community space and outdoor landscaped space for HSTF.
Saad spoke about specific portions of the proposal that the Commission wanted more information on at the last hearing, including the windows on the side elevation, which have to be modified to make them appropriate for housing units.
There will be small rectangular windows at the top of the building, which will be “essential to bringing light into the other levels of the multi-level units located on level five of the building,” Saad said. The rectangular windows will be placed in between the existing medallions at the top of the church.
He also talked about the new residential entrance which will be located on the south elevation of the building. The vestibule will jut out from the building and feature a canopy.
Additionally, on the front of the church building, the side entrances will be “stretched” so they reach sidewalk level for accessibility.
“We want to maintain ease of access,” Saad said.
He then talked about the baptistry, which is proposed to be opened up and used for a performance space.
Landscape architect Amy Allen also briefly went over the proposed landscape plans again as well, saying that on the west side, the team is “proposing to have flexible lawn space with an accessible route to the baptistry entrance,” as well as “increased perennial plantings” and a deck underneath the large tree. Also on the west side will be “amenity space for the residents.”
On the east side, there will be bike racks, paving, and planting, and in the parking lot, there will be accessible parking spaces and improved lighting along with some new plantings. She showed different options for the baptistry ramp, but the Commission did not necessarily settle on an exact design for that just yet.
Commissioner David Berarducci had some concerns with the way the transom windows were divided, but Saaf said that they could be divided into two as opposed to four. He also talked about the punched windows on the side, saying that “I think the pairing of those windows in a vertical way was much more in scale and in keeping with the rhythm of what’s going on here.”
Berarducci added that he likes the alterations to the front of the church building. Commissioner Brad Walker agreed with Berarducci, and said that he thinks the proposed canopy over the residential entrance “ought to be lighter.”
Commissioner Justine Orlando expressed concerns about the ability to create openings in the existing baptistry and the structural problems it could potentially cause. The team said they are looking into the structural ability of doing that and will ensure that the structure is not compromised in any way.
All in all, the Commission approved the project with the provisos that the awning be sketched out and the team needs to come back with details about the baptistry and a final review of all materials.