Hell Hath No Fury Like an Architectural Committee Scorned

Today, the Boston landmark Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Arlington Street is no longer: it has become the Taj Hotel.

I first found out about this when I attended a Back Bay Architechtural Commission hearing in December about some development plans in my neighborhood. (For anyone who cares, the ugly greenhouse-like thing at the corner of Exeter and Boylston--which used to be a TGIF--will remain because the proposed structure to replace it was even worse). I arrived at the meeting one hearing early, which happened to be the hearing for some minor renovations at the Ritz-Carlton/Taj Hotel: removing some international flags, changing some brass placards, adding an Indian flag, and changing the awnings to the Taj Hotel logo.

You would think that's pretty straightforward. And you would be wrong.

The Commission was fine with replacing the brass placards, removing the international flags, and adding an Indian flag (The Taj Hotels are an Indian company). But the awnings were a different matter. The Taj Hotel logo has a beige background with blue writing. And apparently the beige wasn't dark enough. There is a precedent of not approving white awnings in the historic district; the Chanel store on Newbury St. had to petition for an exemption. One commissioner asked if there was "anything creamer?" One said, "I would love to look at swatches." Ultimately, the Taj Hotel was granted a temporary waiver, provided they reverse the fields (blue background with beige writing).

I don't know if this a principled stand or an idiotic one, but I find it oddly reassuring that these guys didn't back down from a corporation worth billions. And because of them, Back Bay has been spared the horror of white awnings.

Except at the Chanel store.

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"I would love to look at swatches."


This is yet another example of why the people on that commission (and the concept of said commission) are soooo out of touch with reality. It's such a joke that they think they're protecting some 'historic' section of the city; obviously they've forgotten that just 150 years ago Back Bay was a trash-filled marsh. Something tells me they didn't have cream awnings then.

I'm hardly a fan of major corporations, but this is borderline insanity (yet again).

By BackBaySnob (not verified) on 11 Jan 2007 #permalink


you're right about the awnings--I don't think the type of beige will influence the quality of life. In fairness, however, they did a really good, thorough job of examining the proposed replacement for the TGIF (even if a couple of the architects were primadonnas--the 'swatches guy' was actually pretty reasonable).

"For anyone who cares, the ugly greenhouse-like thing at the corner of Exeter and Boylston--which used to be a TGIF--will remain because the proposed structure to replace it was even worse."

Wow. That's... impressive.