By Juli McDonald

BOSTON (CBS) – New railings on a North End building are eye-catching, but are they out of place in the historic neighborhood?

The new building is called The Chrysanthemum – named for the flower, which has significant meaning in the owners’ Asian culture. It’s getting mixed reviews from its new North End neighbors.

Below the swirling, petal-shaped railings on Salem Street, this sign:

“Who the heck designed/approved these balcony railings? HIDEOUS, Please fix. This is Boston, not Tokyo! Signed, Literally every single North End resident.”

The Chrysanthemum building in the North End (WBZ-TV)

“There were about 4-5 of them and a lot of all-caps used,” said Mary Beth O’Leary of the signs. “Definitely someone wanting to get their voice heard a bit.”

And it turns out, not every single neighbor agrees.

“It’s not really completely out of place,” said Sandro Carella.

Architect Sandro Carella is familiar with the project, and sees it as an extension to existing ornamental wrought iron that is inherently “North End.”

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood since 1960. I have lots of friends who disapprove of my point of view, but I think we need to grow and learn and move forward,” said Carella.

Like it or loathe it, everyone can agree it’s different.

“I feel it’s a little too modern for the old time district and the tradition that’s always been here,” said Bill McGuire.

Perhaps in time, affinity for The Chrysanthemum will bloom.

“I can see the misfit,” said Akash Tiwari. “Things are changing slowly. If that’s the case, maybe it’ll find it’s place.”

The building’s architect has been involved with some more traditional projects too like the nearby North Bennet Street School.

Juli McDonald

Comments (2)
  1. The chrysanthemum pattern of the railings are decorative, ornate as wrought iron often is at the whim of the artist who weaves it; look at any building in the neighborhood whose fire escapes are unusual and whose copper stampings are remarkable, ornamental and sometimes bizarre.

    The flower has cultural significance to the owner of the building. It was painstakingly explained by Frano Violich who designed it at several community meetings and met with approval of residents, for more reasons than its appearance at first glance.

    The ground floor provides for commercial tenants to change over time, a pattern that used to be part of vibrant and characteristic life in this neighborhood before every square inch of indoor space was turned into a dwelling.

    This building has a carbon negative structure, the wood used to build it was harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council, effectively it keeps almost 100 million tons of CO2 from going back into the environment.

    Since we are soon doing away with the Clean Air Act, and removing regulations from vehicle pollution we will need more buildings like it if we want to continue to breathe.

    Wake up and smell the chrysanthema. Sandro A. Carella

  2. I one hundred per cent disagree with the sign writer and think she should get a life. I find the ironwork delightfully whimsical and like the Yin the shapes add to the angular Yang that is Salem St.

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