- Benjamin Ball, Ball-Nogues Studio (Los Angeles, CA)
- Shauna Gilles-Smith, Ground (Boston, MA)
- Monica Ponce de Leon, MPdL Studio (Ann Arbor, MI; New York, NY; Boston, MA)
- Jenny Sabin, Jenny Sabin Studio (Philadelphia, PA)
- J. Frano Violich, Kennedy Violich Architecture, Ltd. (Boston, MA)
Posts tagged with "Massachusetts":
This netted, aerial sculpture above Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway looks like lace but is stronger than steel
Transparent addition puts historic Brutalist library on display.When designLAB architects signed on (with associate architect Austin Architects) to renovate and expand the Claire T. Carney Library at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, they faced a particular challenge: addressing the college's changing educational and sustainability priorities while respecting the legacy of the campus' original architect and planner, Paul Rudolph. "We never intended to try to preserve the building 100 percent," explained designLAB's Ben Youtz. "It was more about understanding Rudolph's goals for the project, then re-presenting them to meet current needs." At the same time, he said, "the reality was we were never going to compete, architecturally, with the form of this building." Instead, the architects conceived of the 27,000-square-foot addition as a vitrine within which to display the master designer's work. The result, a transparent glass box revealed through a curtain of mesh sunshades, pays homage to Rudolph's design without sacrificing either the library's revised programmatic goals or the call for improved environmental performance. Both the renovation and the addition address the changing role of the library on college campuses. "Libraries today are much less about the book, and much more about engaging with your peers, both academically and socially," said Youtz. designLAB moved much of Carney Library's collection from the stack floors to below-grade compact shelving, transforming the reclaimed space into a variety of lounge and group study environments. "It was about creating a more collaborative, public experience," said Youtz. "In that sense, the addition was thought of not just as a new front door to the library, but a new front door to the campus." Located along one of UMass Dartmouth's primary circulatory spines, the transparent addition, which accommodates a browsing area, group study spaces, and a cafe, visually connects the parking areas to the west with the main campus green to the east. Sustainability was a key concern for the clients. "The existing building was a behemoth in terms of its energy consumption," explained Youtz. In renovated portions of the building, designLAB achieved substantial savings through the introduction of insulated glass and thermally broken glazing systems, a super insulated roof, and a high efficiency mechanical system. With respect to the addition, the vitrine metaphor as well as the desire to foster connectivity and collaboration called for a high degree of transparency. "To do that you want to have a lot of glass," said Youtz. "But of course this has challenges in terms of heat gain." The architects chose high performance glass and a thermally broken curtain wall system for the open-plan space, which wraps under and around an existing second-story bridge to the science and engineering building. To further reduce solar gain, they introduced a frit pattern on the west side of the addition as well as glazing on the west and south facades of the original structure. The pattern recalls the weft and weave of fabric, a nod to the college's historic connection to the local textile industry. Stainless steel mesh sunshades provide another layer of protection against the sun. designLAB derived the spacing of the mesh fins on the east and west facades of the addition from the system of CMU elements on the library's third- and fifth-floor cantilevers. The material, in turn, looks to the mesh shades originally installed in the atrium spaces scattered around campus. "Our treatment of the addition was spinning off this mesh idea that Rudolph introduced on the inside—we took it and put it on the outside," explained Youtz. "One of the ideas is that this is a curtain of diaphanous stainless steel mesh wrapping the stage on which Rudolph is presented." The fins, which are deeper, more tightly spaced, and pulled farther from the building on the west side of the addition, produce a play of shadows and light as the day progresses. "When the sun tracks across the elevation, the quality of the shadow is always changing," said Youtz. "It's really quite beautiful." At either end of their metaphorical vitrine, the architects confronted the challenge of engaging with the original concrete structure. "It was a big struggle about how we did that and did it well," recalled Youtz. "We didn't want to introduce more CMU in ways Rudolph didn't use it." They opted instead for a greenish-grey zinc system that complements both the cast-in-place and the CMU elements. "We have these bookends where the vitrine meets either the library or the science building, where zinc is expressed on both the outside and inside," said Youtz. "You get the sense that this is where we're transitioning from the original exterior to a new condition." For Youtz, the opportunity to work on the UMass Dartmouth project was "truly an inspiration. It's phenomenal to think that when Rudolph was visioning this campus, he was building 1.5 million square feet in the middle of the farm fields." But beyond its sheer size, Rudolph's work at the college is remarkable for its focus on the student experience. "One of his major guiding principles was about the collective—so he created all these different spaces where students could share ideas," said Youtz. "That's why we wanted to reinvent the library as a social and intellectual hub at the heart of campus, to make it a space where students want to hang out and work."
Höweler+Yoon combine cutting-edge tech and age-old craft to complete the Sean Collier Memorial at MIT
Boston launches a sustainable housing initiative with net-zero energy townhomes.As anyone who has come into contact with Red Sox Nation knows, Bostonians tend not to believe in half measures. A case in point is the city's E+ Green Building Program, a joint initiative of the Office of Environment & Energy Services, the Department of Neighborhood Development, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Designed to demonstrate the feasibility of building net-zero energy, multi-unit housing in an urban context, the program made its built debut in 2013 with 226-232 Highland Street, a development consisting of four three-bedroom townhomes in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. The building achieved substantial energy savings on a tight budget in part through a highly insulated facade constructed from conventional materials. "The envelope is key," explained Interface Studio Architects (ISA) principal Brian Phillips. "We design many super high performance projects and we believe strongly in the quality of the envelope as the starting point." ISA became involved in the project at the invitation of developer Urbanica, who had seen their 100K Houses, a high performance housing prototype designed to be constructed at less than $100 per square foot. One of three winners of the E+ Green Building Program's developer design competition, the Urbanica-ISA team crafted the townhomes with a dual awareness of the project's immediate surroundings and efficiency goals. "We're always interested in observing and measuring the context in order to create our design approach," said Phillips. "The materials and shapes of the Roxbury neighborhood inspired our design—as well as the requirements of creating a super high performance building." For instance, he describes the facade's most distinctive feature, a recessed vertical stack of windows, as "a riff on the prevailing bay window typology." The architects' material choices "were motivated by aesthetics, affordability, and recycled content," said Phillips. The primary facade material, prefinished fiber cement lap siding, is common to the neighborhood's existing residential fabric. Each attached house features an interlocking pattern of grey-blue and cedar-textured siding, for contrast, while the reverse bay windows are wrapped in dark grey metal panels. Double-stud walls, blown in insulation, and super tight doors and windows reduce thermal gain to a bare minimum. Thanks to its high performance envelope, energy-generating rooftop photovoltaic panels, and integrated user-feedback system, 226-232 Highland met the E+ Green Building Program's concrete goals, earning LEED Platinum for Homes certification and HERS Index scores between -11 and -15. Even during the unusually cold winter of 2013-2014, the Boston Redevelopment Authority reported, the project recorded energy positive days. But the townhomes also fulfilled the less tangible component of the city's mission, as a demonstration that sustainable housing can be built simply and for a reasonable price. "Green development is no longer just the big high-rises and large projects downtown," said Boston Redevelopment Authority deputy director Prataap Patrose at an event celebrating the building's LEED Platinum certification. "It's happening here. It's happening in our neighborhoods."
Renovation transforms decommissioned McKim Mead & White building into campus event space.When Amherst College decided to convert a former steam plant into a student event space, the choice likely struck some observers as odd. Designed in 1925 by McKim, Mead & White, the coal-burning plant was decommissioned in the 1960s; since the 1980s, it had been used as a makeshift garage for ground equipment. The facade of the neglected building needed to be opened up to reveal its potential while respecting its good bones. "It wasn't in great shape, but it wasn't in terrible shape," said Bruner/Cott's Dana Kelly. "Impressively enough, the school recognized that it had qualities that could be harnessed for a new student space." The brick building's industrial aesthetic was a particular draw, said Kelly, whose firm has spearheaded renovations at the nearby MASS MoCA (itself a former industrial complex) since the museum opened in 1999. For Amherst College, Bruner/Cott took a similar approach, balancing preservation and alteration to support the new program without disrupting the historic building's essential character. By the time Bruner/Cott began work on the Powerhouse, the original brick envelope had already seen a lot of change. Earlier renovators had filled windows with glass block, rebuilt a blind arch in mismatching brick, and cut a large garage door into the south facade. "Since the building had been altered so much, we chose to continue the dialogue by restoring or reconstructing some exterior elements, and sensitively altering others to match the new use and open the building up to campus," said Bruner/Cott's Jason Forney and Aoife Morris. On the side of the building facing the campus road, the architects inserted a new steel and glass entrance into a blind brick arch. On the south facade, to connect the interior to the new outdoor terrace, they inserted historic replica windows and french doors in place of the glass block, and swapped out the roll-up garage door for a bi-fold glass door. On the north side, which faces the parking lot, Bruner/Cott retained the existing glass block. "The observer still reads the McKim, Mead & White design, but with the changes the building has evolved to be an extroverted part of campus instead of being an introverted coal-burning steam plant," said Forney and Morris. Environmental performance was a priority for the architects, who will monitor the building's energy consumption during occupancy. They talked Amherst College into opting for operable windows over mechanical cooling. For heat, they chose a hydronic radiant floor and an overhead infrared heater that runs on gas. "These systems work to heat the bodies of occupants, instead of heating the large volume of air in the space," explained Forney and Morris. An insulated chamber designed by Bruner/Cott captures waste heat from the new steam plant below the building and releases it into the event space during the winter. The architects chose not to insulate the interior walls "since their character was an important design element for the event space," said Forney and Morris. To compensate, they installed a new slate roof, heavily insulated with spray-on cellulose. The new roof, noted Forney and Morris, mixes two colors of stone "to achieve the mottled effect of the existing roof, which was beautiful but had outlived its lifespan." To avoid interrupting the Powerhouse's open plan, Bruner/Cott situated the restrooms in an understated addition constructed from board-formed concrete. "We find that additions like this are often necessary to support existing buildings without undermining their spatial qualities," observed Forney and Morris. To foreground the steam plant itself, "we chose to make the addition appear like a garden wall—a 'non-building,'" they said. "It is simply two offset concrete walls that conceal the door to the terrace." The contractor built the formwork from rough-hewn lumber to achieve a patinated look, and tinted the concrete to match the existing water table banding. The addition's gutters are designed to pour water down the face of the wall and hasten the appearance of age. Like Bruner/Cott's sensitive renovation, the steam plant's new moniker—the Powerhouse—effectively gestures at both the history of the building and its new incarnation as a campus activities hub. "Amherst College chose the name both to remind students of the building's industrial past, and to recognize its place in 21st-century student life," said Forney and Morris. Once responsible for producing heat, today the structure generates something less material, but equally important: student engagement.
Innovation center's corrugated metal envelope evokes Boston's seagoing past.Commissioned to design District Hall, the centerpiece of Boston's emerging Innovation District, Hacin + Associates found themselves in a unique situation. "There was no context," recalled design team member Matthew Arnold. "We were one of the first buildings down there; we had to build our own story." To fill the gap, the architects looked to the site's history. "In the old days, goods came from around the world to the Boston seaport, then were distributed throughout the United States," said founding principal David Hacin. "We were thinking that this is analogous to an innovation center: ideas are born in this place, then distributed around the world." Wrapped in corrugated metal punctuated by strategic glazing, its two volumes informed by nautical and railroad architecture, District Hall captures both the glory of Boston's seagoing past and the promise of its high-tech future. "The big idea behind District Hall was this two-part building," explained Arnold. A bifurcated design served several purposes simultaneously. First, it allowed the architects to bring a different architectural expression to each side of the program. The larger, more sculptural volume, angled to define the edge of a planned park, acts more like a public space, housing an auditorium and restaurant. The lower, rectangular wing of the building, which is oriented to the existing street grid, contains the innovation center. Second, the two-part form complemented the project's tight budget. "The lower portion of the building didn't require the same level of ceiling heights" as did the auditorium/restaurant space, said Hacin. "We were trying to build volume where we needed it, and not where we didn't need it." On a conceptual level, the bifurcation taps into two elements of the city's past. The taller volume's swooping profile was inspired by nautical architecture, while the lower wing evokes the boxy order of a train yard. District Hall's corrugated metal facade further emphasizes the building's dual identity. "We found this corrugated material to be very intriguing," said Arnold. "It's related to nautical sheds and train cars." Other corrugated facades have begun popping up around Boston, noted Hacin. "But they've used it for the industrial aesthetic, with no real idea behind it. It was kind of cheap, industrial, and cool, but that's as far as it went." Hacin + Associates instead deployed the material as a storytelling device, choosing two different patterns and colors to continue the narrative embodied in the building's form. A shimmering silver metal extruded in a sine wave pattern encloses District Hall's multipurpose wing, while the innovation center is wrapped in matte black with a more squared-off profile. In addition, the architects used flat white trim material to suggest three-dimensionality. "We developed a rationale for how to treat the facade details," explained design team member Scott Thompson. "Where we cut into [the corrugated metal], we treated it as if it was a solid with a different center." The architects minimized glazing in part for budget reasons. "Rather than having lots of windows scattered around, we decided to concentrate them in key locations: at the restaurant, on the corner," said Hacin. "It really is a showcase of the facade material. Sometimes it's about the windows, but in this case the facade material is sculptural—you can see this especially on the silvery volume." The conservative approach to glazing also helps reduce thermal gain. The architects primarily relied on tried and true methods, such as placing few windows on the south-facing facade, and setting the west-side windows back several feet, to meet efficiency goals. "We were really just trying to get the most out of conventional technologies," said Thompson. Ultimately, said Hacin, the true environmental test for District Hall will be whether it is razed in a decade, as planned, or whether it proves its usefulness as a long-term fixture of Boston's Innovation District. "It was built to be a ten-year building," he said. "But my hope is that it will continue to be successful, and that it will become part of the character of this neighborhood—part of what people love about it—in which case there will be no reason to remove it. That would be the most sustainable outcome of all."