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Back Bay Architectural District

The Back Bay Architectural District was established in 1966 and expanded in 1974, 1979, and 1981.

UPDATE (7-6-2021): We have streamlined our application process. Going forward please use our online application portal to apply for work in our districts. 

The Back Bay Architectural District Commission (BBAC) meets the second Wednesday of each month to review proposed exterior design changes and alterations. Find out about the commissioner nomination process in the district's original enabling legislation. Interested in becoming a commissioner? Please check the commission information section at the bottom of this page. If you see an "apply online" button, we have an opening on the commission and you're able to apply for it.

Design Review Process

All proposed exterior work is subject to the review of the BBAC. You must submit a Design Approval Application to the Commission and it must be approved by the Commission before beginning any exterior work.

Apply For Design Review Online

  • To save time and costs, contact staff early in the planning process to determine project compliance with guidelines.
  • Review all instructions and documentation requirements before submitting your application to ensure it is complete. Only complete applications will be added to a public hearing agenda.
  • Submit your application online well in advance of a filing deadline in case it is marked incomplete and additional or revised information needs to be submitted.
  • Staff is not available to review applications for completeness immediately upon submittal.
  • Do not begin any work, or buy materials until after you have received confirmation your project has been approved.

The Back Bay was originally a tidal body of water, used for mill operations. In the mid-19th century extensive landfilling began, resulting in over 450 acres of usable land by the 1880s. The Back Bay was an early planned fashionable residential district, based on Baron Haussmann’s plans to remake Paris. As the tidal flats were slowly filled in, beginning at the edge of the Public Garden and extending westward, residential construction advanced on filled-in lots as they became available. As a result, Back Bay, when viewed in block sequence, illustrates the changing tastes and stylistic evolution of American architecture over the course of the mid- to late 19th and early 20th centuries. Commercial development started on Boylston Street around 1880, and on Newbury Street in the early 20th century, in some cases adapting existing row houses.  You can learn more about Back Bay through this brochure on the history of the area.

1 City Hall Square
Room 709
Boston, MA 02201
Back Bay
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BBHD 2020 recordings

BBHD 2018 recordings

Commission Info

5 years
Total Seats:

Current members

Member Appointed Expires Status
John Christiansen 3/4/2020 12/31/2023 Active
Jane Moss 10/16/2015 12/31/2019 Holdover
Iphigenia Demetriades 2/12/2016 12/31/2018 Holdover
Kathleen Connor 3/4/2020 12/31/2021 Active
Patricia Quinn 10/16/2015 12/31/2018 Holdover
Alex Stevens, Jr 7/22/2013 12/31/2017 Holdover
Kenneth Tutunjian 10/18/2011 12/31/2014 Holdover
David Eisen 10/15/2013 12/31/2014 Holdover
David Sampson 5/24/2016 12/31/2020 Holdover
Robert Weintraub 2/10/2021 12/31/2024 Active
Lisa Saunders 5/24/2016 12/31/2021 Active
Ethel MacLeod 3/4/2020 12/31/2024 Active
James Berkman 3/4/2020 12/31/2021 Active
Jerome CooperKing 3/4/2020 12/31/2023 Active
Meredith Christensen 3/4/2020 12/31/2022 Active
Zsuzsanna Gaspar 3/4/2020 12/31/2024 Active
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