BPDA and Boston Society for Architecture announce awardees for Mass Timber Grant Program

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Michelle Wu

BOSTON–The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA) announced the awardees for the Mass Timber Accelerator Program, launched last September to promote mass timber building practices in Boston and the New England region.

Mass timber, short for massive timber, is an umbrella term for structural wood products joined to form larger panels. Mass timber is an environmentally friendly alternative to carbon-intensive building materials like steel and concrete.

“We are thrilled to see so many project teams take advantage of the Mass Timber Accelerator Program,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “As we take on climate change, we need to use every tool at our disposal. Adopting climate friendly methods of building, like Mass Timber, will help the City of Boston meet our climate goals.”

The program has selected seven projects for the first program round. The selected projects include several proposed affordable and mixed-income housing developments, commercial offices, life science and lab buildings ranging from four to eleven stories. Awardees will receive $25,000 of financial assistance as well as technical assistance from WoodWorks, a non-profit committed to providing free resources and technical support around the use and advancement of Mass Timber. Awardees will investigate a range of mass timber building practice applications and assess related building design, construction, environmental and cost feasibility, and benefits.

“Throughout the last decade, Boston has taken great strides to become a national leader in environmentally friendly and low carbon building practices,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “Together with our local partners in architecture, engineering, labor, and development, we are advancing mass timber construction, a new innovative practice that will help the building industry reduce its carbon footprint and become more sustainable.”

Launched in September 2021, through a grant funded by the USDA Forest Service, the Softwood Lumber Board and the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Mass Timber Accelerator Program is a technical assistance program that will advance Boston’s 2050 carbon neutral goals by providing support to projects in early planning phases on the use and benefits of mass timber as a building material.

“Buildings account for nearly seventy percent of carbon emissions in urban settings, so if we are going to achieve a carbon neutral Boston by 2050, we have to change the way we build,” said BSA President, Anda French. “That is why the BSA is so excited to partner with the City of Boston to support mass timber projects that demonstrate the potential for sustainable design.”

“The time value of carbon necessitates an immediate focus on reduction of embodied carbon,” said Jennifer Hardy, Senior Associate at Payette and Mass Timber Accelerator juror. ”Mass timber is one of the few high-impact building materials that has the potential to act as a carbon sink. Each of the projects selected in this competitive program showed a depth of diverse team knowledge, innovation and resourcefulness that demonstrates why the Boston architecture community is leading the industry in sustainable building practices.”

Although relatively new, mass timber offers numerous benefits for the environment, and residents of Boston and New England, minimizing the impact of construction on the environment through its proven low-carbon structural properties and aesthetic qualities.

Selection Jury members:

Kevin Naranjo, USDA Forest Service
Ricky McLain, PE, SE, WoodWorks
Jennifer Hardy AIA, (BSA Rep.)
Richard McGuinness, BPDA Deputy Director for Climate Change and Environmental Planning
Barry Reaves, BPDA Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
John Dalzell AIA, LEED Fellow, BPDA Senior Architect for Sustainability Development

Selected Projects:

  • 110 Canal Street, Bulfinch Triangle — Quaker Lane Capital with CBT Architects – A seven-story commercial office building.
  • Eliot Church, Roxbury — Leers Weinzapfel Assoc. Architects and Eliot Congregational Church – A four-story affordable housing project.
  • 401 Chelsea Street, East Boston — ThoughtCraft Architects – Proposed six-story building that will include 40 units of mixed-income affordable housing with ground floor retail space.
  • Mary Ellen McCormack, South Boston — Winn Development, Boston Housing Authority, and CBT Architects – Redevelopment of a public housing project in South Boston that will add 302 units of mixed-income affordable housing.
  • 150 Center Street, Dorchester — Trinity Financial and ICON Architecture – Transit-oriented development that will add 81 units of mixed-income affordable housing next to the Shawmut MBTA Station.
  • Suffolk Downs B16, East Boston — Elkus Manfredi Architects and The HYM Investment Group – A planned eight-story building that will include market rate and affordable housing over ground floor retail space.
  • Q Communities at Suffolk Downs, East Boston — DiMella Shaffer Assoc. Architects and Project Q Communities – Also part of the Suffolk Downs development, a proposed eight-story building that will have 215 units of senior and assisted living housing.

Additional program information and project gallery are available on the BSA‘s and BPDA‘s Mass Timber Accelerator web pages.

The selected projects are at various stages of review, including concept design, by the Boston Planning & Development Agency. A second round of funding to support additional projects will open later in 2022.

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