River Street Project Update

The Zoning Board of Appeals heard from developer Geoff Engler about the design and landscaping plans for his proposed 40B River Street project (off Cross Street near the Woburn line). Some of the design, he said, is still a work in progress.

WINCHESTER - On Monday, Jan. 13, the Zoning Board of Appeals welcomed Geoff Engler, the developer behind the River Street 40B project, along with his design team to give a brief overview of their architecture which Engler stated is still a work in progress.

Daniel Riggs, an associate at Embarc, who are the architects on the project, made a presentation on some of the design changes that they have been working on in recent weeks. The first revision Riggs mentioned was to clarify material expression of massing. Before the revision, the materials were spread throughout and they were using fiber cement panels, brick, and clapboard as the idea for the building was for a loft building. He said now it will have a more wood clapboard panel and trim aesthetic.

The second revision was to simplify the roof massing and the rooflines of the building. In the original design, Riggs mentioned that each wing had two ridgelines that met at different corners and they are now trying to pull that back and create a single roofline for each of those wings.

The third change is to create more depth within the material expression itself along the building.

In addition, the revision of the front elevation (River Street) will have more of a "wood façade with trim, fiber cement clapboard, and paneling,” noted Riggs and they ‘re working to make the penthouse level quieter.

Originally, at the top of the building there was a design plan for a gable expression, almost like a cathedral ceiling, stated Riggs, but they have now removed that making a more traditional form.

Riggs then moved on to discuss the rear elevation, which is designed to have an open space and courtyard. He noted that previously the design was very flat and the panel didn’t give a lot of articulation. Their goal is to add more nuance and depth to the façade.

Engler stated that he believes these design differences are subtle, although still significant.

“We just want to get it right and whatever we do we are going to use first-class materials and it's going to look nice,” he commented.

Leslie Fanger, Senior Landscape Architect at Bohler Engineering, spoke about the River Street project’s landscape. She noted that along River Street they are going to upgrade the streetscape view with street trees and shrubs. Fanger gave a brief overview of the building. She mentioned that people will enter the front plaza through a set of steps. There will be an accessible route over towards the side, but it is not a ramp.

In the main lobby, residents will be greeted with a view towards the back courtyard which she described as a place for family and friends to gather and will also adjoin a smaller play area. Upstairs, residents can access the front rooftop courtyard which will be an active area where people can go and play cornhole or bocce and more. They will have planters that will separate the units that abut this space to create some separation so the private spaces and this more public space are well defined.

The upper rooftop courtyard will be over the garage structure, with a much larger open area with a multitude of uses and amenities for the residents. She mentioned there will be cabanas, a small bar area and a fire pit. Next, the "outdoor kitchen" as Fanger called it, will be set up with grill stations and various types of seating such as picnic tables, elevated bar tables, café tables, etc. She also mentioned that all of the elevated areas will be serviced by ramp systems.

Fanger then concluded her presentation by showing some pictures to the board to reinforce their vision. She showed the steps going into the front entrance courtyard off of River Street. She wanted to give the board a sense of the high-quality materials that would be used. She also commented that they want to provide some type of artwork in front of the building to catch people’s eye as they walk along River Street.

She then showed pictures of the rear courtyard. She showed a water wall, a large chalkboard for children and tables for families to gather to enjoy the outdoors. For the front rooftop courtyard, she showed some planters, synthetic turf and open space to be used for activities or gatherings. In the rear rooftop courtyard, she displayed the grill stations and a bar. She also revealed the elevated tables and beautiful cabanas.

The next meeting on the River Street project will be on Monday, Jan. 27.

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