I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold.


At the place where the Mystic and the Charles meet lies a pier, wagging its empty finger at the North End. This place is Pier 5. Long empty and fenced off, the BRA is scheduled to issue an RFP in the next couple of weeks to develop this prime waterfront parcel. For those familiar with the history of the Navy Yard, you’ll know this isn’t the first time (and maybe not the last) that redevelopment attempts have been made. Nevertheless, the eternal optimist in me and now-interested Charlestown community member and resident still hopes for the best.

To that end, I attended a Charlestown Neighborhood Council meeting last week at the Constitution Inn in the Navy Yard to learn more: “Pier 5 sits almost dead center among the Navy Yard “finger” piers, situated between the Courageous Sailing Center on Pier 4 and Tavern on the Water on Pier 6. Pier 5, at 125 feet wide, is broader than others at the Navy Yard. It also has the outermost reach, of 650 feet, into Boston Harbor. Originally, it was built of wood in 1911-1912, but rebuilt in February 1941 to better accommodate ships for World War II. The new concrete pier, which still stands today, was first concrete finger pier in the Navy Yard.”

Today, the concrete is in poor shape, but the views of the city skyline (taken via iPhone from one of my favorite perches at Tavern on the Water) are killer. One hopes that the development ideas are just as spectacular.




While visiting the University of Toronto last week, I saw a smart show in the gallery on the history of (and a conceptual framework for understanding) templates – with a particular focus on the tools architects once used to mediate between drawing instruments and paper in the era just preceding the digital era.  They looked great as a collection in the gallery and the assorted shapes and bright colors brought back fond memories of my architecture-obsessed youth. Glenn Forley, one of the show’s curators, was a classmate at the Harvard GSD.

From the school’s website

As a mediating device, templates negotiate between conception (drawing) and production (artifact), between data and graphic. As a technological device, templates translate form, as well as information, from one medium to another for the purposes of fabrication, organization, and visualization. The templates in Tailoring Form, culled from a range of industries and professions – shipbuilding, automobile design, navigation, architecture, and fashion – register shifts in the standardization of production and representation. In this context, Tailoring Form posits the template as a facilitating technology in a history of mechanization.

Fizer Forley is a research and design office in New York City. Fizer Forley’s exhibited research exploring the production of architectural and cultural artifacts has included:  “Tailoring Form: a brief look at the history of the template”; “Artificial Memory,” a survey of memory devices; “The Democratic Monument in America 1900-2000,” with Richard M. Sommer; and “Opening the Oval,” a timeline history of the interior of the White House, Washington, D. C. Natalie Fizer and Glenn Forley teach in the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons the New School for Design.

The show closed last Thursday, March 3.