Posts tagged with "Boston":

Placeholder Alt Text

A quick and user-friendly glazing comfort tool

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Boston-based Payette recently unveiled a publicly available web-based tool that allows designers to evaluate glazing design and performance with respect to occupant thermal comfort. This Glazing and Winter Comfort Tool, developed by an in-house team of building scientists and designers, received an honorable mention at AIA's recent TAP/CAA (Technology in Practice) Innovation Awards.
  • Architects Payette
  • Team Involved Alejandra Menchaca, PhD, LEED AP – Senior Building Scientist / Associate; Lynn Petermann, AIA, LEED AP – Associate; Vera Baranova – Designer; Christopher Mackey – Building Scientist
  • Awards 2016 AIA TAP (Technology in Architectural Practice) Innovation
  • Location web-based
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System Envelope performance tool
  • Topics Practice-based Research;  Academic; Applied Technology Development
The project comes at a time of increased interest in facade transparency, energy efficiency, and occupant comfort. Alejandra Menchaca, senior building scientist / associate at Payette and lead researcher on the project, said the project was initiated as a response to the challenges of quantifying how glazing performance and geometry will affect the need for supplemental perimeter heating early in the design process. "What if the design team could understand, as early as schematics, which facade properties negatively or positively impact occupant comfort? What if there was a way to avoid the use of perimeter heat by selecting the right glazing geometry and performance?" To achieve this goal, the project team modeled the tool after existing scientific research, and the firm's experience with high-performance building design. The result is a simple interface that educates the design community on thermal discomfort during wintertime. The tool produces graphic charts and diagrams based on user-controlled variables such as facade geometry, glazing performance, target interior conditions. It also allows design concepts to be further optimized through advanced options that take into account specific details such as R-value of the facade walls, exterior air speed, and even the insulating value of occupants clothing. This array of variables can be saved as a “case” option and compared with two other configurations for analysis. Beyond this level of interactive design analysis, the tool educates designers on types of thermal discomfort among building occupants and provides links to further reference information. The tool was released in coordination with a firm-wide R&D showcase, which Payette described as a “behind-the-scenes” look at research and development processes and outcomes of our findings. In addition to their Winter Glazing and Comfort tool, the office shared models produced through their fabrication lab, advances in virtual reality, and additional building science research. Payette's office shared testimonials from design professionals testing out the tool during their showcase. "This helps me understand the trade-offs with fenestration quantity, configuration, glass lay-up (and ultimately, cost of the fenestration) with comfort for the occupants of the building," an engineer testing the tool said. "The graphic output is quickly understandable and conveys the important results to decision makers who may be unfamiliar with much of the conceptual underpinning but recognize that comfort is key to occupant satisfaction. Having this tool available imposes quantitative rigor on comfort, which combined with quantitative daylighting analysis leads to a rational basis for fenestration design.” The publicly accessible tool can be accessed on Payette's website here.
Placeholder Alt Text

New glass pavilion housing a Sephora opens next to Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Elkus Manfredi Architects' shiny new Sephora has claimed a coveted corner of the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace, adding yet another style of architecture to downtown Boston. The 5,670-square-foot store sits on a triangular site in the northern corner of the marketplace along North Street, across from Boston’s Brutalist City Hall (1968) and facing the Greek Revival–styled Quincy Market (1826). The small glass pavilion’s transparency stands in stark contrast to the brick and concrete structures that surround it. With its fluid form and free flowing metal roof system, the project is unmistakably contemporary. “We feel that this 21st century transparent building not only highlights Sephora’s brand image, but allows the nearby historic 18th century Faneuil Hall and 19th century Quincy Market landmark buildings to shine,” said Howard Elkus, founding principal of Elkus Manfredi Architects, in a press release. The new store is part of a larger master plan proposed by Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (AAC), which is striving to refresh the market and introduce more accessible programming to downtown Boston. The proposal met some controversy at first, as tenants feared they would be outbid by national chains and the market would lose the eclectic shopping for which it has become known. AAC explained that their hope is to provide new reasons for visitors to come to the market and not to rid if of its historic charm. “We are excited about the arrival of Sephora as it fills a void in the retail scene in downtown Boston,” said Joe O’Malley, general manager of Faneuil Hall Marketplace, in a press release. “Sephora brings a new type of consumer to the marketplace, one of many new initiatives in the near future.” As the master plan continues to transform the Marketplace, AAC aims to strike a balance between local businesses and national brands like Sephora and Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing brand who opened their Boston flagship store in Quincy Market in 2015. They hope this curated mix will help make Faneuil Hall Marketplace a year-round destination for tourists and locals alike.
Placeholder Alt Text

A five-acre redevelopment of Boston’s Bulfinch Triangle will replace a much-maligned concrete garage

At the crossover where six neighborhoods come together in Boston is… a parking garage. Boasting 2,300 spaces spread among nine stories, the concrete monolith, officially referred to as the “Government Center Garage,” is a byproduct of 1960s planning and rests on a 4.8-acre site known as Bulfinch Triangle. Vehicular dreams, however, have never quite been realized. The garage has only reached capacity twice: Once for a Rolling Stones gig and another time during a major snowstorm in 1978.

“This part of the city is not as dependent on automobiles as everybody imagined it would be,” said Kishore Varanasi, principal and director of urban design at Boston-based CBT Architects. The firm is working with the HYM Investment Group to redevelop the area. Fellow CBT principal David Nagahiro added that today approximately 1,200 cars use the garage on a daily basis.

Echoing their 1960s predecessors, CBT and HYM have big, transit-oriented plans for the site. De-emphasizing the automobile, the $2 billion “Bulfinch Crossing” master plan involves the creation of a new public square and pedestrian promenade linking Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the Market District along Congress Street through to Canal Street. Space to store 850 bicycles (a city requirement) will be included as will a Hubway station for Boston’s bike-sharing program and direct connections to Zipcar, the MBTA bus service, the Green and Orange subway lines, and the North Station commuter rail service.

CBT’s $2 billion master plan was approved in 2013, and a year ago the city gave the green light to two of the tallest structures in the development: New Haven firm Pelli Clarke Pelli’s One Congress office tower at 528 feet and a 480-foot residential tower from CBT Architects.

All in all, Bulfinch Crossing will see 812 residential units, 1.2 million square feet of offices, a 200-key hotel, and 85,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurant space added to the area; 1,150 parking spaces will also be available. The mixed-use development will be the first to include significant housing in the urban renewal district and demonstrates a refresh of downtown typologies by creating slender towers with a reduced footprint.

“Much of the design challenge has been to design the space so that it has eight different desire lines—both visual and physical—that run through the site,” said Varanasi. In plan, Bulfinch Crossing doesn’t look like a typical plot of grid-divided land primed for development. Instead, a variety of shapes work to facilitate these desire lines and natural circulation through the site.

The scheme will be completed in phases. “Nobody needed convincing that this garage has to go away,” said Nagahiro, who added that despite this sentiment, the garage couldn’t simply be knocked down. Even though the facility is only at half-capacity, its daily use is a valuable source of income to the city and, as a result, will be taken down incrementally to sustain city revenue. However, the garage will remain open for business throughout the redevelopment.

Reconfiguring the garage for operation during construction is due to be completed this spring. Construction of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s tower is

slated to begin as early as 2018 and the site pad for CBT's 480-foot residential tower is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion in summer 2020. Further construction deadlines are yet to be finalized because they are predominantly market-driven, however, Varanasi speculated that the garage should be in its final stage by 2023. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your area and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
Placeholder Alt Text

This Boston research facility is one of the first U.S. projects to employ large format GFRC fins and panels

facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
Situated along Boston's Commonwealth Avenue, the Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering (CILSE) promises to bring a state-of-the-art research facility to the front door of Boston University's campus. The 170,000-square-foot nine-story building will serve faculty from schools and departments throughout BU's expansive neuroscience community, along with other universities in the Boston area. In a press release, BU issued the statement: "For decades, some of the most exciting research at Boston University has been unfolding in a row of buildings hidden on Cummington Mall, designed originally for making carriages instead of studying the life sciences." The university anticipates this new prominent location will "encourage the kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary research that will be the hallmark of 21st-century science." When complete, CILSE will be one of the first projects in the U.S. to employ large-format, glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) fins and panels. Under the design leadership of Boston-based architecture firm Payette, these products are being manufactured by Rieder Smart Elements GmbH, under their FibreC product line, and are being erected by Ipswich Bay Glass. Peter Vieira, associate principal at Payette, says there are two types of architecture on BU's campus: Perimeter buildings are influenced by a "red brick" style derived from the neighborhood character of Back Bay's Victorian brownstone homes. Meanwhile, the campus core follows a tradition established by early designers on the university's campus, namely Ralph Cram, who introduced a heavy limestone-clad deco-gothic aesthetic in the 1940s. Others followed Cram's lead: The Josep Lluis Sert School of Law—a 265-foot exposed concrete tower —was constructed in 1965 and recently renovated by Bruner/Cott. CILSE cleverly follows this "buff limestone" tradition by integrating a lightweight concrete materiality into a curtain wall system, nodding to history while maintaining the benefits of transparent glass. The mid-rise block features a half-inch-thick GFRC material installed in two applications. Fins to the north and west—where the building overlooks campus and public space—and panels to the south and east in coordination with internal programmatic spaces that are more specialized and private.
  • Facade Manufacturer Rieder Smart Elements GmbH (GFRC fins & panels)
  • Architects Payette
  • Facade Installer Ipswich Bay Glass
  • Facade Consultants Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Location Boston, MA
  • Date of Completion 2017 (projected)
  • System curtain wall on structural steel
  • Products Rieder ‘fibreC’ GFRC panels
The fins are four inches wide and set along a vertical spacing that varies across the facade, especially where the system approaches and rounds the corner. The fins project 14 inches from the curtain wall facade; their continuously formed U-shaped channels are pre-supported from a custom pre-assembled knife plate anchor developed by Ipswich Bay Glass. "The material became very interesting... because it is only a half-inch thick it can be bent, formed, and folded. It can be both a fin and a panel. One material used in two very different ways," Vieira said. Despite a minimal thickness, the GFRC panels can be worked when wet, prior to fully curing, enabling them to be folded into complex forms. At CILSE, the fins were manufactured from a precast panel, which was folded by hand (by three to four people at Rieder) to obtain a unique radiused profile. "While the technology exists to create sharp right-angle bends in the concrete (the favored approach for European applications), these channels were deliberately formed around a pronounced eight-millimeter radius, a detail selected to highlight the material’s thinness and plasticity." Furthermore, the material was available in a range of standard colors and textures, producing an aesthetic that is highly compatible to BU's buff limestone context. Notching of the fins occurs at the floor plates (14 feet floor-to-floor). These 16-inch reveals are a compositional strategy producing what Vieira calls a "deliberate effect." The cuts form shifting patterns, where "the play of the vertical rhythm of the fins, coupled with a periodic subtractive massing, produces a surface pattern that changes quite dramatically." As an added bonus, the notches reveal the GFRC's material thickness, especially at ground level where the length of the cut is exaggerated. “The building has a particular size and a particular massing. Devising a way to use this material that feels very much like a BU building—a Boston building— and produced in a way that engages the public. Not in an overt way, but in a very subtle nuanced way over and over again. This material can be formed and bent and expressed in a way creates a very contemporary building. It ties the building back to a tradition of building on campus that is going to be very unexpected and refreshing," Vieira said. CILSE broke ground in May 2015, with an expected completion date of spring 2017. The facility will house the Center for Systems Neuroscience, the Biological Design Center, the Center for Sensory Communication and Neuroengineering Technology, and a Cognitive Neuroimaging Center with a 3 Tesla fMRI—a fundamental tool for studying the brain’s trillions of neural connections and how they relate to human behavior.
Placeholder Alt Text

Mayor Walsh releases top-shelf urbanism reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030

The City of Boston has put together a rigorous, Boston-centric reading list in advance of Imagine Boston 2030, the city's first full-scale plan since the 1960s. If urban planner heaven is a bookshelf, it might live here. As Imagine Boston 2030 creates a plan to preserve and grow the city, the readings (12 for adults adults and 8 for children three-plus) ground Boston's cultures and social history in a distinctly American urban framework of prosperity and poverty; integration and isolation; weak policy and smart growth. The reading list grew from conversations between staff at the Mayor Marty Walsh's office on books and thinkers that shaped their understanding of Boston. After some lively debate, they developed a list of books to share with the public. The books—which range from Cities 101 classics like Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Robert Caro's The Power Brokerto Boston-based fiction (Rishi Reddi's Karma and Other Stories) and nonfiction (J. Anthony Lukas's Pulitzer Prize–winning Common Ground), and praiseworthy new titles like Matthew Desmond's Evictedwill be available at all Boston Public Library branches. But that's not the end of the story. The city is asking its citizens to vote on three more books that should be added to the list. The suggested titles explore similar themes to illuminate the urban experience, but are more international than the core 12. Up for consideration: Alan Grostephan's Bogotá, Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, and Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, among others. Check out the full list below and follow the project @ImagineBoston @BPLBoston and with the tags #ImagineBoston  #IB2030bookworm. Adult reading list: Evicted by Matthew Desmond The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development by Mel King The Given Day by Dennis Lehane Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald The Power Broker by Robert Caro Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong by Judith Rodin Villa Victoria: The Transformation of Social Capital in a Boston Barrio by Mario Luis Small Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz Youth reading list: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge What’s the Big Idea? Four Centuries of Innovation in Boston by Stephen Krensky Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald Beneath the Streets of Boston by Joe McKendry On the Loose in Boston (Find the Animals) by Sage Stossel
Placeholder Alt Text

Gensler releases renderings of GE’s new Boston HQ

  Fresh images of General Electric's new Boston headquarters have surfaced, courtesy of GE and architecture firm Gensler, which is based in San Francisco but has an office in Boston. Earlier this year General Electric (GE) announced they would be leaving their Fairfield, Connecticut headquarters, which they originally moved to in 1974. A new location was chosen in Fort Point on the Boston waterfront. GE will remodel two historic brick structures on the site and build a new 12 story building. The company says their new site—which will accommodate 800 employees—will encourage public employees to commute by public transportation, biking, and walking. According to Bldup, only 30 new parking spaces will be constructed on site as part of an underground garage. GE's new location, which they describe as a "campus," will include a public coffee shop, restaurant, and 1.5 acre public outdoor space. Among its other sustainable features are a rooftop solar system and vegetated roof areas. GE isn't the only major corporation to move into an urban center this year. McDonalds recently announced that they would move their headquarters from the suburb of Oak Brook to Downtown Chicago. Kraft made a similar move after their merger with Heinz. Companies who once deliberately moved out to expansive suburban campuses are finding new financial and logistical incentives to return to cities. Cities are also more attractive than suburbs to the younger generation of workers, whom GE is actively courting. According to a press release the campus will include a "Maker Space" for tech startups as well as university and high school students. The move is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2016 with employees relocating to a temporary Boston location. Their Fairfield campus will be sold, along with their offices in the building at 30 Rockefeller Center that once bore its name. This, along with incentives from the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts, will offset the moving and construction costs. The company expects the move in to be completed by the end of 2018.
Placeholder Alt Text

New exhibition at BSA Space explores playground design

Now on view at BSA Space is an exhibition and accompanying education program that focuses on playgrounds around the world. Dubbed Extraordinary Playscapes, it will run until September 5, 2016 and was curated by Design Museum Boston. On display are drawings, sketches, videos, scale models, and playable installations featuring 40 international playgrounds. Examples of contemporary architect-designed playgrounds in the U.S. abound: in April, the Rockwell Group–designed Imagination Playground (featured in Extraordinary Playscapes) opened in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Similarly, in December the renovated Adventure Playground in Central Park, designed by Richard Dattner, also opened. These two playgrounds provide the opportunity for “unstructured play,” a growing trend in playgrounds. Some of the designs featured in the exhibition include: Wild Walk in Tupper Lake, New York, designed by Chip Reay; PlayForm7 in Singapore, designed by Playworld Inc; Esplanade Playspace in Boston, designed by Halvorson Design Partnership; Takino Rainbow Nest in Takino, Japan, designed by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam; Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; and Ambulance Playground at Beit CURE Hospital in Malawi, Africa, designed by Super Local. You can read more about Extraordinary Playscapes here.
Placeholder Alt Text

Developer Richard Askin talks facades and resilience in Boston

Richard Askin, Director of Planning and Design at W/S Development Associates, has had his eye on Boston's burgeoning Seaport District for about a decade. During that time—as Askin's firm planned and initiated construction on a multi-block mixed-use development called Seaport Square—the local AEC industry has increasingly focused on designing for resiliency. The chief concerns in the low-lying Seaport District are rising sea levels and severe storms. "Because we started before Superstorm Sandy, before there was the remapping of the flood plain, I've seen us go from not understanding what we should want to do, to more proactively coming up with design solutions for the risks that are instigated by floods and/or sea level rise," said Askin, who will participate in a presentation block on "The Seaport District Reconsidered" at Facades+AM Boston June 17.  
Increased awareness around rising water levels dovetails with W/S Associates' traditional area of expertise: retail. Both involve a focus on the ground plane. "We've done a host of things that have to do with both occupancy and infrastructure" in response to the need for more resilient designs, explained Askin. One example has to do with the buildings' electrical transformers. These are typically positioned on the ground floor and covered by a utilitarian facade. The result is both vulnerable to damage during a flood and aesthetically displeasing. "It essentially becomes a blank wall, and typically very large," said Askin. "The problem for us is that retail wants to be at the ground floor—it's in direct conflict with conventional placement of the transformer." Askin relishes the ways in which the attention to resiliency in the Seaport District has stretched his own approach to a development problem. "I've never had to figure out these micro-level details before, to invent ways of doing things on the facade that's not conventional," he said. Learn more about the Seaport District and other Boston-area development hotspots at Facades+AM Boston. To learn more or register for one of the few remaining seats, visit the symposium website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Payette’s Andrea Love on Boston’s high performance skyline

High performance building envelopes have the potential to play a crucial role in reshaping Boston's architectural identity, explained Andrea Love, Director of Building Science at Payette. "A number of buildings of the past were all glass boxes that could be located in any climate anywhere. I think we have an opportunity to create climate responsive facades that reflect the location they are in." Love will expand on the theme at this month's Facades+AM Boston symposium, where she joins NADAAA Principal Nader Tehrani and Studio NYL Founding Principal Christopher O'Hara in a presentation block on "Boston's High Performance Skyline." Happily, Boston's AEC industry professionals have a head start when it comes to designing and building environmentally-efficient facades. "I think that because of the Stretch Code and current energy code in Massachusetts, Boston leads much of the country in terms of high performance envelopes," said Love. Aggressive code requirements encourage rigorous evaluation and creative problem-solving. At the same time, she explained, "many local clients in the Boston area also have environmental and climate commitments which further reinforces the need for high performance facades."
This is not to say that there is no room for improvement. Even Boston lags behind much of Europe, for instance. Love points to triple glazing as an example of a facade component that, while more or less standard in Europe, has only recently become more common in New England. In addition, she said, architects, engineers, and contractors must work to further their understanding in issues including thermal bridging and the relationship between facades and occupant comfort. "As an industry, I don't think we focus enough on how our building envelopes impact visual and thermal comfort in the spaces that are being created," explained Love. Love is excited about the multiplicative effect an increase in energy literacy has had on designers and builders. "It's a ripple effect—we are becoming more sophisticated in our understanding of how facades influence building performance," she said. "We're also improving how we incorporate analysis tools that allow us to make more informed decisions [during] our design process. And we continue to optimize the performance of our facades with strategies like increasing insulation, high performing glazing and sunshades that actually impact building performance." Learn more from Love and other movers and shakers in the facades world at Facades+AM Boston. Sign up today for one of the limited remaining seats.
Placeholder Alt Text

over,under principal Mark Pasnik on Boston’s evolving regional identity

Mark Pasnik has written the book on Boston's evolving architectural identity—literally. Pasnik, founding principal at over,under and co-author (with Chris Grimley and Michael Kubo) of Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, will offer his take on "Facades and Regional Architecture" in a presentation at next month's Facades+AM Boston symposium. "While Boston is often identified as a brick city, its architectural traditions are more complex," observed Pasnik. The city's landmark structures include not just brick but also granite and poured-in-place concrete edifices. "Where there is unity is in the thickness, heaviness, and solidity of nearly all of Boston's most significant buildings," said Pasnik. More recent architectural trends, including the elevation of thinness, contradict this legacy. "Some of the most criticized areas of new development in the city have suffered from paper-thin, inelegant, commercial curtain walls, particularly in the Seaport District," noted Pasnik. (Exceptions include William Rawn Associates and Ann Beha Architects' high-tech, highly transparent Cambridge Public Library). "However, Boston's identity, seen in historical and modernist traditions alike, is almost always on the side of having a thick skin," he remarked. Architects including Kennedy & Violich (Tozzer Anthropology Building at Harvard University) have successfully married Boston's historic heaviness with new technology and materials. Of particular note is the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Dudley Square (Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates). "What makes a structure like the Bolling Building and its high performance facade so remarkable is that its skin serves to stitch a neighborhood back together, animate its streets, renew a dilapidated historical facade, and in general represent the value of meaningful civic investment—which has become more and more rare in the United States," said Pasnik. "The building has catalyzed improved design ambition and expanded development, but its most important effect is in revitalizing an important urban center." Hear more from Pasnik and other facades specialists at Facades+AM Boston. Space is limited—register today on the event website.
Placeholder Alt Text

Facades+AM Boston shines spotlight on three up-and-coming neighborhoods

In Boston, local AEC industry professionals face a particular challenge: how to move forward while honoring the past. "Boston is a unique city in terms of architecture, and new versus old," said Ryan Salvas, Design Director at CW Keller & Associates and co-chair of the upcoming Facades+AM Boston symposium. Facades+AM, a quick-take version of the popular Facades+ conference series, makes its Beantown debut June 17. "There are a lot of forward-thinking academic programs in the area, but we also have, I would say, a very practical architecture base here," continued Salvas. "It's really about balancing historical references—and historical facades—but also looking forward to what's new." Now is an especially good time to talk about high performance building envelopes in Boston, said Salvas's co-chair, NADAAA principal Katherine Faulkner. "The city hasn't seen this much development, easily, in a century," she explained. "For Boston, it's been an exciting last five years. But one thing that's resulted is a lot of criticism—that the buildings are not inventive, not-forward thinking in terms of performance, that there's nothing indigenous [to the region]."   Nine experts—including academics, designers, planners, developers, and municipal officials—will explore the upside of Boston's rapid transformation (as well as its particular challenges) in three presentation blocks at Facades+AM Boston. Each session is framed around an up-and-coming Boston-area neighborhood. The first, "The Seaport District Revisited," features presentations from CBT Architects' David Nagahiro, WS Development Associates' Richard Askin, and Utile Architecture & Planning's Tim Love. The second session, helmed by Mark Pasnick (over,under), David Carlson (Boston Redevelopment Authority), and Gerard Gutierrez (Sasaki Associates), shines a spotlight on "Facade and Regional Architecture," with special focus on the Dudley Square area. The final group of presenters, NADAAA's Nader Tehrani, Studio NYL's Christopher O'Hara, and Payette's Andrea Love, will zero in on "Boston's High Performance Skyline," especially in and around the tech hub of Kendall Square. In planning the symposium, the biggest challenge Salvas and Faulkner faced was not having too little to talk about—it was having too much. "Any one of these topics could take up a full morning on its own," admitted Faulkner. They nevertheless remain confident that the diversity of experiences represented by the panelists, in combination with the specificity of the sessions, will offer valuable insights to anyone interested in the aesthetics and pragmatics of high performance building envelopes. To learn more about Facades+AM Boston, visit the symposium website. Seating is extremely limited, so register today!
Placeholder Alt Text

Retrofitting Brutalism: Holyoke Center

[Note: Retrofitting Brutalism appears online in three articles, each highlighting a different project. To read the series introduction and explore the first project, the Boston University Law Tower, visit here. You can find our second installment, the Peabody Terrace, here.] Holyoke Center

• Date of Retrofit: 2018 projected, (original construction 1965) • Architects: Hopkins Architects (Design Architect); Bruner/Cott (Executive Architect) • Consultants: Arup Partners (mep, structural engineering); Faithful & Gould (cost consultant); Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (structural engineering); Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (landscape architect) • Project Scope: Renovation of former Holyoke Center will include much-needed modernization of the building; improved access to Harvard’s information center; enhanced landscaped plazas at north and south ends of the site; new, flexible interior spaces for events; and common spaces to attract varied constituencies within the university. • Clear window film: 3M, Solyx • Installers:  A+A Window, American Window Film

Recently renamed the Smith Campus Center, Sert’s former Holyoke Center at Harvard University is an h-shaped 10-story building offering a panoramic view of the nearby Charles River. With a crumbling exterior concrete envelope and inefficient heating and cooling system, the building is undergoing a significant renovation process spearheaded by London-based Hopkins Architects and executive architects Bruner/Cott.

Two quotations might aptly describe Sert’s dogmatic approach to campus planning and architecture, which often was in conflict with popular taste. The first, from Sert himself, proclaiming his disdain for Harvard Square’s historical colonial architecture that he partially demolished for his Holyoke Center: “Stepping into Harvard Square is like entering one of Dante’s circles of hell in terms of anything associated with human enjoyment, pleasure, or beauty.” A year after its completion, Harvard’s student journal shot back with: “The one nice feature about Holyoke Center is that it’s the one place in Cambridge from which you can’t see Holyoke Center.”

Today, the building—recently renamed the Smith Campus Center—is undergoing a major physical and cultural transformation that seeks to strengthen the Harvard community, rather than to divide it. The university has engaged the university student and faculty body through 25 focus groups to produce a collective vision for the new center. The committee organizing the reprogramming of the building has received over 6,000 survey responses.

While Boston University’s Law Tower received an addition that blended old with new, blurring the lines between Sert’s building and new construction, the Smith Center’s addition will separate itself from Sert’s architecture—a move that seems intentional. Visualizations of the addition promise relaxed spaces full of nature: A natural wood-clad ceiling and light-filled glassy expanses offering glimpses to nearby renovated leafy plazas.

It is ironic that here in the very building Sert used to set forth a modernist agenda erasing the past, a new addition and campaign by the university is on track to culturally erase his project—from the facade system down to the name of the building. “The new Smith Campus Center will embody the aspirations and values that we hold dear and seek to preserve. It will draw us together more closely, strengthening the sense of community at Harvard by encouraging spontaneous interactions among students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the broader community,” said Harvard President Drew Faust.

“We realize if we’re going to save these buildings and have another 50 years of usable life, we really have to make them better than they ever were to begin with. Because as good as they might have been in the beginning of 1960, they’re much better now than they ever were in terms of occupant comfort and ease of movement.”