Study of Mixed-Use Scenarios for Nazzaro Center Introduced to Neighborhood Council

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The Boston Architectural College (BAC)’s Gateway Program, which gives architecture students a chance to get real-life experience working on projects out in the community, is conducting a study of the potential mixed-use scenarios for the current Nazzaro Center building.

Architect Killion Mokwete presented an overview of the Gateway Program and what the study will entail to the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) at their March meeting.

The Nazzaro Center building is currently under review by Boston’s Landmarks Commission to potentially be designated as an official landmark. This designation would preserve the exterior of the building, but still allow changes on the inside. The Save the Nazzaro coalition has asked the BAC to do a study of what could potentially be done with the interior, assuming a new North End community center is constructed elsewhere.

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Watch Mokwete’s presentation in the video above and read a summary of the discussion below.

Five BAC students are working on this study, three graduates and two undergraduates. The students spend 20 hours per week on the project for one semester, concluding at the beginning of June. Mokwete, who is supervising the students, is an architect who teaches at the BAC and Northeastern, as well as practices with the non-profit Build Health International. The group did a half-day tour of the Nazzaro Center to see how the building is used. They will be engaging with the different community groups who use the space, including schools and senior programs.

Kirsten Hoffman, part of the Save the Nazzaro coalition, clarified that this study is completely different from the City’s study that is focused on finding a space for the new community center (5:11).

Questions from the audience begin at 5:32 in the video. Attendees asked how we can study what will go in the current building before we know where the new center will be and what will go there. Hoffman explained that this is just a study of what different options could go in this building, assuming things that don’t fit, such as the basketball court, would be relocated. This is different from the Sasaki Architects’ study that was trying to determine how everything a new community center needs could fit in the current building (which they found it could not).

Hoffman went on to throw out ideas of different mixed-use scenarios for the current Nazzaro Center including mixed public and private space where perhaps there are some offices, a small shop, etc. The BAC team will come up with a variety of suggestions with the goal that the building is self-supportive.

(12:05) Maria Lanza from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services explained that the city will have its own process for the Nazzaro building during which they will accept feedback, including this BAC study.

(12:34) Attendee Victor Brogna expressed concern about the idea that the Nazzaro should be self-supporting. He explained that would put restrictions on the BAC’s study. It is not self-sufficient now so why does it need to be the future. Council members agreed and Mokwete said his team could also consider plans that would require some city support.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact Kirsten Hoffman who will gather this information and share it with the BAC team.

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