The last time Boston architecture firms were in the news, the architects were the victims of an ugly backlash that started with the destruction of the iconic Arch of the United States.
That same backlash also seems to have hit Boston’s other architectural firms.
Now, a wave of architecture firms has entered the picture, with an emphasis on sustainability.
“It’s about the ability to create the best possible environment for all stakeholders,” said Charles H. Hirschfeld, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and author of The New Urbanism.
“That’s the challenge we have to face now.”
The Boston architecture boom is a bit like the housing bubble of the 1990s.
There are now about 30 new firms opening each year, with more to come.
There have been about 30 buildings completed in the past year.
The number of new construction is expected to more than double by 2020, according to the Boston Architecture Partnership.
In Boston, there’s a growing concern about a lack of investment and the quality of the construction that has led to some of the city’s most notorious landmarks falling into disrepair.
The City of Boston and the city of Boston University both have been in discussions with the nonprofit Boston Architectural Conservancy (BAC), which oversees the citys buildings and the architecture of the City.
The BAC is trying to develop an agreement that would ensure that a new building in a major urban area can be built in a way that is consistent with the citywide sustainability goal of 75 percent by 2020.
It has been trying to find a solution to the problem for years.
A group of architects led by former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has been working on an ambitious plan for a new downtown office park.
The plan calls for the building to have the same building footprint as the Boston Convention Center, but it would be at a lower height and be smaller in size.
A $2 billion project has been under construction at the former John F. Kennedy airport site, which would be used as a transit hub and parking lot.
The new development would be built on the same site as the current Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which is currently being redeveloped as a luxury hotel and retail center.
The city also recently announced a $15 million investment in the building, which will house the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the agency responsible for revitalizing the city.
But, according for some architects, the new building plan has little to do with the sustainability goal.
The building would be a “super-scale,” said Christopher L. Johnson, a Boston-based architect and founder of the Boston Architect and Urban Design Center.
The proposed development would have five floors and be bigger than the proposed Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Boston.
It would have a lot of windows, a lot more glass and be designed with a much higher degree of “green glass” that will make it easier to see in the sun.
“If you look at what the Marriott Marquise is doing, it’s all glass,” Johnson said.
“What I’d like to see is a building that’s really green.”
While Johnson thinks the new plan is a good start, he is not convinced the developers are up to the task of building a sustainable development.
“I’m concerned about the environmental impact of this project,” he said.
The Boston Development Corporation has said the project is being developed with an eye toward the BAC’s sustainability goal and is subject to its own approval process.
But it has not yet provided details about how the plan would be structured and what kinds of incentives the developers would receive.
Boston Public Schools officials are also looking into how to deal with the issue of sustainability.
They said that the school district is working with architects on an “urban design for sustainability” that would be part of a citywide effort to address the issue.
The idea is that if the project meets the BDC’s sustainability goals, then it could be considered for inclusion in the cityscapes sustainability plan.
The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use less energy in buildings, Johnson said, and to do so while creating a “sense of place” in the community.
That sense of place can include a park, or a residential neighborhood with a residential district.
“In terms of sustainability, it seems to be really important to me that we don’t do something that creates this sense of home,” Johnson told The Associated Press.
“We need to have that sense of community.”
The current plan is to build two new buildings and one other large office space in the former Boston Convention Building at East Main and Lexington streets.
The two buildings would be taller than the Marriott’s proposed site and would have more space to accommodate students, the Boston Public School district said.
There is also a plan to build a mixed-use development at the site of the former State House, but that proposal is still being evaluated.
The first phase of the new development is scheduled to open by the end of 2020.