Loving Lucas: There’s a new kid on the block

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The Lucas . 136 Shawmut Avenue . Boston – Luxury – Architectural Rendering

I have been staring longingly down Shawmut Avenue for nearly a year now, wondering who that new kid on the block was.  My path crosses his on my way to work each morning, and I can’t help but be struck by the shear sexiness of his exterior.  It’s magnetic, I’m mesmerized by the solidity of its foundation and the sleekness of its glass expansion, which rises up above the treetops, creating a green leafy carpet – for those in the Penthouse units – to gaze down upon.

Interior Renderings:  Clean lines – great views.

Located at 136 Shawmut Avenue in Boston’s South End, the name The Lucas is fitting as the property, which was constructed in 1874 – originally designed by Patrick Keely – was a Catholic Church, the Old Holy Trinity German Catholic Church to be specific, and Saint Lucas is the patron saint of artists, students, physicians, and….butchers.  Butchers aside, the South End, with its proximity to Tufts Medical, and Boston City Hospital, to NU, Tufts Dental, Suffolk University, Fisher College, and to a rich design community and the artists that populate the SOWA  (South of Washington Street) Market – Luke landed just where he is perhaps most needed.  Certainly, I appreciate the its presence.

Left:  Old Rectory  Right:  Original Church

This 33 unit luxury condo complex which is being developed by New Boston Ventures, A South End Residential Developer responsible for other SE properties including; Zero Worcester Square, The Royal – also located on Shawmut Ave., and 38 Upton in the Eight Streets District where I reside.  Designed by Finegold Alexander, and built by Metric, it includes 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms, ranging from $1.1M – $4M.  Now that only tells a small part of the story.  According to Ellen Anzelone of Finegold Alexander, 60% of the units were sold reconstruction, and the remainder after the construction began.  In other words – you’ll have to wait to get in there until someone moves on -this life or afterlife, they won’t go easily. Word is they have some pretty high-profile tenants.  I’d stalk it if I were you.

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Room with a view.

I love old churches with their beautiful windows, their spires and detailing designed to pay homage to a higher power, but if truth be told, they don’t lend themselves terribly well to a formulaic apartment layout which demands economy of configuration to make the numbers work.  That’s not to say people wouldn’t buy it, but in Lucas’ case – it’s perfectly proportioned.  These numbers seem to work.  New Boston Ventures purchased the church from the Archdiocese for $7M – good deal.  They invested roughly $47M in its design and construction, and a blended rate of the units per square foot nets out at roughly $1836. a foot.  Somewhere north of $90M profit doesn’t seem to bad.

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Window to the past.

Parking for 16 cars means only the most expensive units will have spots included with their sale.  The building has a gym, common courtyard, and library.  It’s also a short one block walk to Whole Foods.  All the modern amenities inside one of the most heavenly building envelops the South End has seen in decades.  Amen to that.

Engineered wood floors, custom cabinets, marble, and extra large subway tile with pale gray grout.  Just a hint of style without going too far.

If you’re feeling absolutely beside yourself that yet again you missed out on a great mate, don’t lose heart….I hear one of them is going to flip immediately.  Let the games begin.

White Sale: Classic beauty

I came across several advertisements for White Sales this weekend.  Of course I know what a White Sale is, I am the daughter of Pat Falla after all.  Shopping was a top skill of Pat’s, right up there with etiquette, so you can see having clean linens in one’s home was naturally a priority, and shopping for them a must.

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Frette . Chine Lace Sheet . Queen $1175. frette.com

I did get to thinking about its origins though, and was tickled pink to learn that back in the day – the early 19th century that is – John Wanamaker of John Wanamaker + Co the first Philadelphia Department Store, dubbed January the month of the White Sale – bed linens, and towels, etc, only came in that single color.  Imagine that, it must have made selecting your wares a whole lot faster.

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Wanamaker’s Designed by Daniel H. Burnham

Fascinated by history as I am, I was even more pleased to learn that his department store was designed by Daniel H. Burnham!  Daniel is famous, in case you weren’t aware.  He was the Director of Works for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, aka – The World’s Fair, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus voyage, which took place in Chicago.  Chicago is coincidently known as the “White City” due in large part to the Master Plan that Burnham, Charles McKim, and Louis Sullivan developed accented by beautiful white stone Beaux-Arts buildings.

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The Flat Iron Building . NYC . Burnham design.

I like white.  It being far from the absence of color, it is the sum of all the colors that make white … white.  Perhaps that is far too technical an explanation.  The fact is – I like it.  It’s crisp, and clean, and allows me room to think.  White, like a good hostess, allows other colors to appear brighter, to pop, to be the lead character in a story.  A room with too many colors can be exhausting, don’t you agree?  This is particularly important to remember as many of you will be receiving house guests this summer. Entertaining too many colors simultaneously can be exhausting.  Keep that in mind.

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Serena & Lily . Marvista Duvet $258. – $428.  serenaandlily.com

As a proponent of advertising, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Wanamaker is the Father of the White Sale, the fact that he is was also a marketing pioneer has me thinking that I owe him a debt of gratitude.  That is, after all, how I make my living.

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Julia B . Mourn . Queen Top Sheet. $1214.  juliab.com

Happy Sunday.

 

Origami: the unfolding culture of tiny living

I like the idea of reinvention, of taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary.  It’s so hopeful, magical…fantastical.  Ori is all that and brains.  As someone that lives in a city and works in the Architecture/Engineering and Construction (A/E/C) Industry,  I am subjected to daily reports of housing shortages, and forums on the need for densification.  Densification does not sound at all sexy, but perhaps with Ori it could be.

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A collaboration between MIT’s Media Lab and Fuseproject, Ori Systems is a powered movable wheel mounted furniture piece.  Kent Larson, who heads MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places Group doesn’t believe our cities are sustainable.  He reports that 90% of the population growth will be in cities, that cities will be responsible for 75% of our global energy use – how can these cities function better, maintain and enhance the quality of our lives.  These are the challenges Kent and his group are working on.  Ori is part of that.

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Larson and Fuseproject are not only imaging the democratization of luxury housing in Ori, but they are conceiving of ways to make it highly personalized.  Dining, dancing, working, sleeping, exercising, relaxing and/or entertaining all in one small 250 – 300SF space.  Possible.  Increased sunlight, colored mood lighting, bedroom, expanded bathroom – fold, tuck, slide, and glide into place, just like the ancient paper folding art of Origami from which Ori takes its name.  A touch of a button on Ori’s control panel and the mobile system transforms at your command. Exhausted after a long day, and want to drop into bed the moment you walk through your door, open the App, and abracadabra, your full or queen bed appears from it’s compact hiding place, and awaits your arrival.

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Available to developers creating micro unit housing for about $10,000 a system, Ori will make its debut in Boston, Washington DC, and Seattle this summer.  Living small, as I have always believed, can be luxe.  Tiny need not a cramped source of shame, and desire for something more.  Tiny can be the envy of all when it is clever, cool, and stylish.  Be ORIginal . live your way.

Simon Says…small living is sublime

Simon Woodroffee wasn’t through with his Yo-deling after the launch of his Yotel Air and Yotel Urban Locations, the founder decided to add Yo! Home to his portfolio of small, but perfectly appointed apartments.  Just 40 square meters (430.5sf), these units possess all that you would expect a posh city pad to have; a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and living room.  Ample storage too.

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Sunken Living and Dining Room disappear to make way for sleep.

Drawing from the same inspiration that brought Yotel to the market – an overnight flight to London tucked into the cozy confines of a British Airways first class sleeping pod – Simon got his bright idea.  Little can be simply lovely, and he set about proving it.  Now with the help of Glenn Howells Architects, Manchester, England is in the approvals stage for its own Yo! Home.  This stackable building complex will be largely prefabricated off-site, in the quality controlled environment of a warehouse.  This approach, in and of itself, is cost savings, and increases the quality of the end product as you don’t suffer the indignities of winter conditions, manpower shortages, and sequencing difficulties.  Just assemble, and slide onto the truck for delivery!

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Let’s get comfortable.  Style and sophistication on every level.

I have seen a lot of small spaces of late. The U-Hu (Boston’s road show of a solution to micro apartments), tiny houses on wheels, Ori (MIT Media Lab’s high-tech apartment in an amour), these are all steps in the right direction.  Densification is a hot topic, because frankly the population is getting hot under the color over the lack of affordable housing, and that has to change. The question has long been, “how do you make a little slip of a space desirable?”  How do you make it cool, sought after, coveted?  Yo! Home just might be the answer.

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When I first saw the renderings, and watched the video about how these spaces transform into a flat (you know, the word for an English Studio) – I have to admit I thought about Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk.  I should say that I love this movie.  1959, a time when a girl was taken on a proper date, when men dressed for dinner, and Doris Day had suitors that bought her cars to try and win her affection.  I’m thinking about this because it’s time for a new car, and that little grey Mercedes with its red interior, that she turned down … hello.  At any rate, no one is currently offering to buy me a new car, so I can’t possibly know whether or not I would turn it down because its offer is so highly inappropriate.  Is it so wrong to want the opportunity?

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Yo! could you say no?

Rock Hudson had a bachelor pad to beat all bachelor pads.  His sitting area converted to a bedroom, lights dimmed on command, music popping out from behind hidden panels.  A perfect modern wood wall suddenly reveals a cocktail bar, and Manhattan’s are served.  So is the case with Yo! Home.  The king size bed drops from the ceiling concealing the sunken living room, the dining table drops down into the floor and is covered over for safety.  The kitchen is revealed from behind glossy fold away doors.  Underfloor storage offers what us Feng Shui enthusiasts dream of – a place to hide away the clutter that is destined to keep us from realizing our full potential.

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Sleek lines, modern design, sunken tub…yes please.

Yo – can you feel me when I say, if these baby’s make their way to Boston, even at the conversion rate of 150,000 Euro, I’ll take one.  It could be the suitor for whom I’ve been waiting.

Yo – Tell it on the Mountain: A hotel worth talking about

While dining with my good friend Marisa on Wednesday, she mentioned the opening of a new hotel in Boston’s Seaport District.  In our roles we are always looking for hip spots to host client events that will make a splash.  How appropriate that Yotel picked Boston’s Seaport for it’s second city location, because a splash it is going to make!  Opening next Thursday, 22 June at 65 Seaport Blvd. the 326 “cabin” hotel is all about compact luxury.  So coincidentally, am I.

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Self-serve or Mission Control 24/7.

While the original hotels are known as Yotel Airs, and are located at airports, they carry the concept of first class travel to their city environs.  Mission Control (Front Desk), Crew Members (Hotel Staff), and of course your Cabins (hotel rooms), all set the stage for a first class travel experience.

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Premium Queen with Bunk.

It’s no coincidence that Yotel’s creator, Simon Woodrooffe began his life as a stage manager before transitioning to a set designer, becoming a restauranteur with the opening of his first Yo Sushi in 1997, continued his illustrious career.  Well naturally, someone that is known for innovating and reinventing himself, wasn’t going to sit about in the same old set for the rest of his life.  So the Yotel concept, which with streamlined precision and ingenuity, gracefully melds aircraft cabin design, and yacht design, overlaying many of the principles of theater set design, and the technological systems that ensure quick, and seamless transitions from one set to another, into the hotels design…et voila, travel is transformed back to its standing as a time honored gift of adventure and wonder.

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Thankfully this English based company converts square meters into square feet as my list of things to learn is long, and constantly growing.  Don’t feel sad for those meters, they’ll get their spot light here.  A Queen Cabin is 14 sqm, which is roughly 149 Square Feet.  Seems small right?  Yo likes to say “everything you need and nothing you don’t.”  Technology plays an important role in creating comfort in this economically designed space.  SmartBeds, SmartTVs, and the speediest of speedy Wi-fi seem to make it all work.  Like micro-housing units there are plenty of places outside the cabin to convene, work, dine, and relax.

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Cabin Fever …. never, too many places and city faces to visit, inside the hotel and out.

I can’t wait to escape to Yotel’s Boston Rooftop Lounge.  As a Cape Cod Gal getting a glimpse of the water is as necessary to me a taking my next breath.  The rooftop will offers an amazing vantage point from which to view the harbor, sit in comfortable lounge chairs, and a cocktail.  Special introductory rates of $129. have me considering booking a room just for the chance to experience it all first hand.

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Yotel Rooftop Boston.

 

Bad Ass Boutique . Thompson . Nashville

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Thompson . Nashville – sorry Nash this is a five star hotel.

To be clear, I am generally speaking, a hotel lover.  I like watching people, imagining where they are from, what brought them to this place, and the delicious thought that others are toiling away – while you are not.  I love them so much, I spend a good deal of time in them, in the various neighborhoods in my own home town.  Lap top, mobile, note pad, it’s as good an office as any old place, and I find that the general buzz is a welcome and impressive noise.  So there you have it.  Hotels are my jam.

Tyler and Lauren stand under the lights . Design – Parts and Labor . NYC

But…Thompson Nashville is the jammiest of jams – high tea at the Ritz with crumpets and clotted cream without any of the formality that comes with a British accent.  The Southern twang is served up with a 40 ounce Rosé wrapped in a paper bag.  Don’t laugh, you’ll be pleading for more of this porch pounder before the last live song is sung for the evening.

The prettiest 40 I ever did see.

21st century lighting in mid-century costume.

It goes without saying that a place as hip as Nash, and Thompson would not disappoint with the design.  San Fransisco based Two Roads Hospitality, the owners of the Thompson Brand opened their newest, 12 Story, 224 room, boutique hotel (one of eight) on 20 October 2016, to rave reviews.  Located in the Gulch Neighborhood, named literally for the narrow, steep-sided ravine which marks the course of a fast stream, arcing through the city’s south side.  The Gulch was previously the site of a very active rail road yard, which brought the majority of the supplies to the city, but became defunct after WWII.

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The Marsh Restaurant at Thompson

Now for those that have been paying close attention to me, you know I love edgy design, and I swoon over lighting, and make all manner of bad decisions when this happens.  Darlin’ we’re all human.  When I tell you that Parts and Labor NYC based design firm combines the sweet and salty scrumptiousness that offers up a veritable explosion for your visual senses, I’m really not doing them justice.  Andrew Cohen and Jeremy Levitt offer up “bespoke, bare-knuckled and straight forward approach to high end design”.  I feel lightheaded.  Brass and glass, texture and layers, pops of color and sophistication, mixed with a little industrial to remind you of the origins of its geographic location.  The chug of the train receding into quiet.  It’s gritty and glamorous all at the same time.  This is Thompson.

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Cane Backed Bench inside a bookcase.  Considering my options.

I didn’t peak into the rooms, but understand the mini-bar dispenses vinal records.  So beyond cool I can’t stand it.  Apparently they provide maps that will guide you to neighboring record stores where you can really score.  Who doesn’t like an adventure.  Stop along the way at any of the restaurants or shops that have found their home inside the re-purposed industrial buildings that line the streets, or make your way back to Thompson’s Marsh House Restaurant, or to its roof top bar where the warm breeze blows, and views of the city are tipped in pink at sunset.

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Relaxing Rooftop

Y’all, I’m preparing to book my October visit.  Don’t wait, the hotel stock is so low in this booming city despite their hyper-track pursuit to bring rooms on line – the lines are outpacing supply.  The Thompson is a sip of perfect whisky in a city where you are the star in the song.  I so love being the star…..

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Rooftop Restaurant

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The final word . wood pendants, capped in silver, surrounded by Crystal … please!

Cliff House . Coastal retreat

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Cliff House . Cape Neddick. Maine

As a Cape Cod girl it’s rare for me to head north to Maine.  It’s beautiful here.  The rugged coastline, waves crashing over the rocks – it’s chaotic, it’s hypnotic, it’s captivating.  Like watching a fish in a bowl, the dancing waves, and sea spray, make me feel calm, unhurried, and it’s clear to anyone that knows me, I am neither.  Rush, rush, rush, but as I sit in the Cliff House’s atrium space overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and watching staff as they prepare for a wedding later today, I feel in no hurry to get back to Boston.

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The Tiller at Cliff House

First opened in 1872, the Cliff House was founded by what can only be described as an enterprising woman – Elsie Jane Weare.  Mother to 7 children, caregiver to her sick husband, Captain Theodore Weare, Elsie decided to purchase 70 acres of waterfront property on Bald Head Cliff, and build the Inn.  How hard could that have been?  Oh by the way she ran it too.  It makes me feel a bit lazy to think of all that she accomplished.  The Resort reports that her brother, Captain Charles Perkins, built the original inn, using wood from his mill in Ogunquit.  Very enterprising indeed.

Room with a view . it’s in the details.

In August of 2016, the Cliff House reopened in its entirely new incarnation.  As a gal in construction I spend a lot of time looking at the details, the intersections between floor and wall, ceiling and soffit, the jigs and jogs that provide interest, but also an opportunity to reveal deficiencies in construction, and poor craftsmanship.  I got down on the floor, looked behind the doors, tested the functionality of the library ladder, the strength of the wrought iron piping that provides the track for the intricate rope screen separating bar from restaurant.  I tried to find fault with the windows and their installation – what is wrong with me?  I could not.  It’s beautifully executed.  The craftsmanship is flawless, and the people here are lovely.

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Gallery at Bald Head Cliff

I am blessed to work for a company – a family – that invests so much in their employees.  This Cliff House retreat was scheduled as a get-away for our Director’s Group.  We could have met at my boss Lisa Wexler’s home.  We do on occasion, and it is lovely there, but she selects locations like this, both as a way to thank us for our hard work, and to take us out of our every day setting.  It does the trick, it makes you feel very present.  So much so, I don’t want to return to my other reality!

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Lisa Wexler . President of Elaine Construction and me.  Cliff House.

Cliff House . 591 Shore Road . Cape Neddick . ME  . 207.361.1000.  To being present.  I recommend you book your visit immediately, and whether you choose to indulge in a fresh cold pressed green juice, or a cleverly crafted cocktail, my guess is you won’t be disappointed.

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Comfort and beauty combine.