Proposed Liberty Mutual Tower, for CBT Architects, Boston

Pencil rendering of the Proposed LIberty Mutual tower for Boston, the view is taken from Berkeley and Cortes Street, eyelevel

Pencil Sketch of the Proposed new Liberty Mutual Headquarters Building, in Boston; 11x13, 300dpi © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Liberty Mutual has filed a Project Notification Report with the Boston Redevelopment Authority for a proposed 22-story headquarters building at 157 Berkeley St.

Just about a year ago,  I did three or four loose pencil sketch renderings for CBT Childs Bertman Tseckares as a part of their initial interview presentation, when Liberty Mutual was interviewing architects who were being considered for the commission.  CBT was selected, and since then have been refining the design and developing the work.

Although I did a couple more concept sketches for the architect over the past year, as part of their design process, generally CBT’s presentation illustrations were being done in-house.  That’s often how work is developed.  Things are changing rapidly, and many times the designers themselves do the renderings and sketches required to communicate the direction of the design to their client.  In fact, that’s pretty much how I learned to render, under the gun, as part of the design effort.

Last week though the Project Manager for CBT,  Ken Lewandowski, asked if I could prepare a quick image to be included in the document which initiates the review process, and which describes the proposed project to the public. There is typically a substantial amount of information generated in order to describe the project for the purpose of public review, including plans, elevations, shadow studies, etc.  My illustration was a very small part of it all, but in the end, helps provide a clear and graphic statement about  the overall design intent.

The sketch is something between a loose concept sketch and a formal rendering.  It’s essentially a semi-formal pencil.  Working from a sketch-up model and various site photos, Google “Street View” screen shots, and reference photographs of entourage, I produced the image in a day or so.

A tighter view, just under full-size, with a sliver of the ‘old’ John Hancock at left.

Liberty Mutual Boston

Detail, Liberty Mutual, Boston; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Enlarging a bit more, at about full-size;

Enlarged detail of the corner of the New Liberty Mutual headquarters Tower, Bosotn, taken from street level

Enlarged detail of the street-level corner, about 3x4 inches © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Comments to online press regarding the project have suggested that the perspective is exaggerated for effect.  It isn’t.  Of course the top of the tower is quite angular, but the building is triangular after all.  …and it’s really not possible to develop a view of a 22-story tower from eye-level without some distortion at the top (even from a block away), unless you introduce vertical vanishing.  Nothing was done for effect.

Detail of an existing ivy-covered brick Context Building at the intersection of Cortes and Berkeley Streets; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

The 10 St. James building is beyond, between the proposed tower and the context building at right.

Detail of the Prow, about full size; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

As a follow-up, it was decided to reproduce this image as an evening view.  The question is invariably asked whether I can simply re-color the linework again, but as an evening image.  The answer is generally no.  For one thing, sun shadows in the day image are usually done not only in color, but also as pencil texture, which would need to be removed.  But additionally, entourage elements (such as people, cars, the fluttering flag, clouds, etc.) look incredibly lame when reused for an evening version.  Imagine looking at the two images projected during a public meeting, and the slides are advanced from ‘day’ to ‘night’, and nothing changes but the coloring.  The traffic is the same, the flag appears frozen, the people haven’t moved, the clouds are still hanging in the same spot…

So some amount of rework is necessary to make a convincing version, although a lot of the linework can be reused to save time.

I spent perhaps half a day redoing the traffic and assorted other elements, and then adapted the color in photoshop to an evening palette.

12x12 Pencil Image Liberty Mutual CBT Architects Boston Night View

Evening Exterior View of a Proposed Tower for Liberty Mutual, for CBT Architects, Boston; all images © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Some Details….

Detail of the Upper Tower, © Jeff Stikeman

Detail at the Building's Corner on the Intersection of Berkely and Cortes Streets; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

...zooming way in here, perhaps four times actual size, where you can really see evidence of the human hand; © Jeff Stikeman 2010

Detail, full size; © Jeff Stikeman 2010



Filed under Commissioned Work

5 responses to “Proposed Liberty Mutual Tower, for CBT Architects, Boston

  1. Pingback: More Stories of my Grandfather | The Progressive Democrat

  2. reg

    did the flat iron have anything to do with the design?

  3. Anonymous

    This a beautiful tower I love it, the only thing that I would change is raising the height to around 300-350ft,

  4. Neill

    Very difficult ‘form’ to render and a great insight to your process. Awesome details, Jeff!

    • Thanks Neill

      Yeah, a nice form to render. There are a few comments on a local architecture forum which claim that I am exaggerating for effect, or trying to make it look more slender than it is. I have to roll my eyes. Everyone’s an expert….

      That angle is a little less than 90 degrees at the corner, and the model was shot from a scale location within the model that roughly matches the camera location form the sidewalk, and rendered with pretty normal lens. It is what it is. Of course, any perspective (even a photograph) of a building that tall is going to feel a little exaggerated at the top. The height means that the top is simply outside the field of view of a normal human eye, unless you tilt up.

      They’ve broken ground, and so I suppose we have a couple of years to wait before we find out how much the geometry of the model matches reality. Thanks for your comments.

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