Back Bay Architectural District
The Back Bay Architectural District was established in 1966 and expanded in 1974, 1979, and 1981.
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.
- 20 City Hall Avenue
Floor 3Boston, MA 02108
Boston Landmarks Commission Online Portal
All of our applications for the Landmarks Commission and Historic Districts are now online! Utilize our online portal to:
- Apply for Design Review
- Apply for Article 85 (Demolition Delay)
- Review Past Demolition Delay Applications
- Report a Violation
- Submit a Public Comment
- Translated Applications
Sign up to get emails about hearings and neighborhood information.
- Once your application has been ruled on by the commission, your decision letter will be emailed to you.
- If approved, use the decision letter to obtain your building permit with the building department. Be sure to display your approval placard on site, visible to the public, for the duration of the project.
- Application instructions and fees
- Back Bay By-Laws
- Back Bay Commercial Standards
- Back Bay Residential Standards
- Back Bay Historic District Map
- Enabling Legislation
- Extension Form
- GIS Landmarks Map
- Guide to photographing windows for applications
- Resilient, historic buildings design guide
- Approval Placard *New*
- Information on Funding Historic Preservation
- Archeology Department
- Archives Department
- Boston Public Library
- Boston Planning and Redevelopment Agency
- Community Preservation Act
- Disabilities Commission
- Environment Department
- Fire Department
- Inspectional Services Department
- Language and Communications Access
- Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay
- Neighborhood Services
- Parks & Recreation Department
- Public Works Department
- Transportation Department
- Zoning Board of Appeal
2020 meeting minutes
2019 meeting minutes
BBHD 2023 recordings
- January 2023
- February 2023
- March 2023
- April 2023
- May 2023
- June 2023
- July 2023
- August 2023
- September 2023
- October 2023
- November 2023
- December 2023
BBHD 2022 recordings
BBHD 2021 recordings
- January 2021
- February 2021
- March 2021
- April 2021
- May 2021
- June 2021
- July 2021
- August 2021
- September 2021
- October 2021
- November 2021
- December 2021
|Alex Stevens, Jr||7/22/2013||12/31/2017||Holdover|