6. Via Verde

Via Verde, a development located in Melrose, whose name means Green Way in Spanish, is celebrated for its environmentally friendly measures that earned it a LEED Gold rating and for providing 222 new low and moderate income rental and co-op apartments. Even with all those elements, the design side of the project wasn’t shortchanged.

A partnership of Grimshaw and Dattner architects produced a building with several notable Postmodern features. The building’s skin is comprised of panels in a mix of pastels and cool grays with sun screens that double as decorative projections. One section steps up and away from an adjoining park, a massing that makes the overall height of the 20-story building less imposing than a slab tower that rises without a setback, as seen in many nearby public housing buildings.

Completed in 2012 on a remediated brownfield site, Via Verde was able to deliver on many counts because it received significant subsidies. It demonstrates that under the right circumstances, being affordable, green, and focusing on design can be complementary. For instance, one of the amenities for residents, a large multilevel courtyard with gardens, also helps to reduce stormwater runoff and insulate the building.