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John Hancock’s 380 Stuart Street latest Boston project to pivot

The insurance giant plans to sell its Back Bay property instead of realizing one of the more interesting designs in recent Boston architecture

Rendering of a curvy, glassy office tower. CBT Architects

Four years ago, insurance giant John Hancock proposed a 388-foot, 26-story commercial building at a property it owned at 380 Stuart Street in Back Bay. The move was part of a plan to consolidate the company’s employees in three buildings in that neighborhood.

The design from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and CBT Architects for the proposed redevelopment was one of the more interesting in Boston for the time: The facade would curve from top to bottom, an exterior destined to stand out among the drabber, boxier glass sprouts popping up then (and now) in the city.

The curviness would also serve a practical purpose by both reducing the impact from wind along Stuart Street and likely ensuring that the new building did not cast an undue shadow over nearby Boston Common.

Alas, it’s not to be. John Hancock announced late last week that it was selling the property, which is currently a vacant 144,000-square-foot building. Turns out it doesn’t need the fresh office space after all. The property still has the requisite approval for a 26-story building of approximately 625,000 square feet, however, and that permitting will be part of any sale. Stay turned.

Meanwhile, other proposed projects in Boston have also hit bumps in the road recently, though each circumstance is different and the hiccups are not related.

The firm behind a proposal to construct two towers of 24 and 21 stories on a 2.23-acre parcel along Dorchester’s Morrissey Boulevard, for instance, have scaled back those plans. Center Court Partners would now build towers of 17 and 15 stories due largely to concerns from some neighborhood residents.

And, in South Boston, an affiliate of Millennium Partners has scaled back its plans for a research campus. It’s now expected to run to 381,000 square feet rather than 900,000—never mind the 2 million originally proposed. That proposal, too, included an aerial gondola to South Station. That’s kaput as well.