The Evolution of Kendall Square

Insight Construction Design

Kendall Square is a very different place than it once was. While some may say that its less of a true downtown (like Central or Harvard Square) than it could have been, it has certainly been an economic and tax engine for the City of Cambridge. It also gets a little better every year, with added housing and retail and other interesting uses (although some of us still miss a bit of the grit and grime and, in particular, the old F&T diner)…

1550 Main Street Lauded by BOMA Mid-Atlantic

Insight Design Inspiration

1550 Main Street, designed by Arrowstreet, was awarded The Outstanding Building of the Year distinction by the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) for the second consecutive year in a row. The former federal office building, owned MassDevelopment, was renovated as part of a strategy to help revitalize downtown Springfield, MA. Working together with MassDevelopment and the City of Springfield, Arrowstreet designed a comprehensive package of exterior and interior building renovations to convert the building into Class-A commercial offices with ground floor retail uses. In addition, Arrowstreet redesigned the central plaza to improve circulation and its position as a meeting place on Main Street.

Daylight Hour

Insight Studio

Arrowstreet participated in Daylight Hour today by joining thousands of other organizations in turning off the lights in their day-lit office spaces for one hour from noon-1:00. With the beautiful sunny weather in Boston today we went even further and kept the lights off all day in most of the office. Arrowstreet has a highly energy efficient LED lighting system that uses 42% less power than typical offices. But when there is ample daylight in our open studio we want to take advantage of turning of the electric lighting system and saving even more energy.

The New Neighborhood Has Spoken

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George Tremblay lent me his copy of the book, The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. In it, the author writes, “In a more encompassing suggestion, John Ruskin proposed that we seek two things in our buildings. We want them to shelter us. And we want them to speak to us – to speak to us of whatever we find important and need to be reminded of.”

Community Strategies for Sustainable Development

Insight Design People

As a participant on the BSA’s Committee for the Advancement of Sustainability, I wanted to share some information about a free forum on June 19th. The committee promotes a sustainable agenda beyond the immediate focus of architectural practice, and engages other organizations in a dialogue that promotes sustainable principles. This year our task has been to organize a forum which will focus on empowering municipalities across Massachusetts to develop sustainable strategies for buildings, infrastructure, and planning…

Reflections on the Living with Water Charrette

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I had the privilege of acting as co-chair for one of the four sites in the ULI Living with Water: The Urban Implications Charette. This event provided an opportunity for a broad range of professionals with diverse expertise to discuss and strategize resiliency strategies related to sea level rise and inland flooding. The goal of the event was to develop real strategies related to planning, design, and public policy to address ongoing and future impacts of climate change…

Living with Water: The Urban Implications

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As co-chair of ULI Boston’s Building Resilience Task Force, I am joining other ULI members in a design charrette titled Living with Water: The Urban Implications, on May 8th…

Affordable Housing Development Competition

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My students celebrated the end of their semester last night at the awards ceremony for the FHLB Affordable Housing Development Competition. Over the past six weeks they have been working with Donald Alexis from the Caribbean Integration Community Development (CICD) along with architecture and policy students from Harvard’s Kennedy School and Northeastern to design an affordable housing proposal in Mattapan…

BSA Business Model Charrette

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The Building Systems Committee at the BSA recently held a charrette on the business of architecture. The charrette was part of a larger symposium titled The Changing Ecosystem for Design Services, which included presentations by American Institute of Architects’ economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA and Phil Bernstein, FAIA. Both presenters discussed current trends and new modes of collaboration that are crossing the traditional boundaries of practice…

Governor Forum on Energy, the Environment and the Innovation Economy

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Left to Right: Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem.
Left to Right: Joe Avellone, Don Berwick, Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem.

On March 23rd, I attended the Governor Forum on Energy, the Environment and the Innovation Economy at Faneuil Hall. The forum set the stage for Massachusetts Gubernatorial candidates to provide their position on sustainability topics affecting the Commonwealth as well as discusses opportunities to elevate sustainability goals…

Healthy Places – the Getty (Part 1)

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Pat Cornelison and I went to Los Angeles to attend ULI’s Healthy Places conference, a very interesting conference on an important topic. I will post about that experience in a separate blog post, but first, I’d like to comment on something else…

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)

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This week, I attended a symposium about Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. PACE is a way for property owners to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The Massachusetts program is also looking at funding for resiliency measures. Secretary Richard Sullivan’s opening remarks reiterated the Governor’s commitment to a sustainable energy future in Massachusetts…

101 Main Achieves LEED Silver Certification

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I’m happy to announce that the new regional offices we designed for BioMed Realty at 101 Main Street received LEED Silver Certification. The office is open, collaborative, and crisply detailed; multiple breakout and “huddle” spaces encourage impromptu discussions and collaboration. We’re proud of the project, and doubly proud of the green design choices (green power, enhanced commissioning, and low-emitting materials, to name a few) that helped us achieve our client’s LEED goal.

Worcester’s Transformation in the Globe

Insight Construction

The latest article in the Boston Globe profiles the transformative nature of our CitySquare project in Worcester. Many of the topics discussed in this article go back to our initial discussions for the urban design approach to this project nearly 10 years ago. While the reconnection of the street network and the redevelopment of the urban streetscape seem like obvious goals, the realization of those goals required a complex partnership between our design team, developers, and the community. Arrowstreet is proud of what has been accomplished in downtown Worcester, and looks forward to the next phases of the CitySquare project and its significant impacts on the revitalization of New England’s second largest city.

New Photos of 17 Tudor and 130 Brookline in Cambridge

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I wanted to share these photos of one of our recent projects, 130 Brookline Street and 17 Tudor Street. Arrowstreet renovated two MIT-owned buildings in the Cambridgeport neighborhood, an area which is evolving into a recognized regional center for life sciences and technology. These two buildings form a small campus with adjacent open space and parking. 17 Tudor Street, a 1920s brick masonry building with a heavy-timber frame and generous window openings, supports office uses and is now occupied by Wistia. 130 Brookline Street, a 1920s building with buff-colored masonry over a concrete frame, also offers large windows; its renovation, including the addition of a mechanical penthouse, accommodates laboratory uses and will be occupied by 24M Technologies.

Freeport Village

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Happy Thanksgiving and Black Friday!

Freeport Maine has long called itself the outlet shopping capital of New England. LL Bean’s Flagship store has anchored the town for over 100 years, and the shoe store Cole Haan was built into an international success from its humble beginnings by its CEO, George Denney, a Freeport native and lifelong resident…

New Lobby at 210 Broadway

Insight Design

As part of the work Bob had told you about and Mike had elaborated on, we also renovated BioMed’s entrance lobby at 210 Broadway. We had a dual purpose in this renovation: first, to reinforce the sense of openness and connection to the courtyard and outside; and second, to accommodate a number of unusual (and beautiful) art pieces. We chose modern, light-colored finishes to draw the eye to the dramatic sculptural pieces and paintings, which are part of a rotating exhibit from the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. The tree silhouettes from the glass courtyard also continue into the space, visually linking the lobby and courtyard.

Dynamic Seating at the 210 Broadway Courtyard

Insight Design

Last week Bob shared the story of creating the glass tree silhouettes for BioMed’s new courtyard at 210 Broadway; I wanted to point out another feature of this new space – namely, the seating. To continue the theme of a transition between indoor and outdoor space, we wanted to create seating that seemed to flow in a natural, fluid way up from the floor…

“Tree-Lined” Courtyard at 210 Broadway

Insight Design

I’m happy to share these new photos of the courtyard at 210 Broadway in Cambridge. Our client, BioMed Realty, asked us to update the courtyard and lobby of this building, recently acquired as part of their Kendall Square biotech portfolio. With the courtyard, we wanted to create a space that transitioned between “outside” and “inside”, making the building feel more open and adding dimension to the streetscape. After looking at a number of different options with the client, we settled on the concept adding glass panels that feature trees, calling to mind the shady, tree-lined streets of the surrounding Cambridge neighborhood…

Mount Equinox

Insight Design Inspiration

I took a vacation last year to a site with no easy way in or out: Mount Equinox‘s Skyline Drive holds the record for the longest paved private road at 5.2 miles. While it’s not open year round, the drive is a pretty amazing vantage for views of most of New England and the Adirondacks. It’s a pretty crazy drive, full of hairpin turns and mirrors to see what’s coming ahead of you. I always find my knuckles are white and my nerves higher than normal after driving down, and I can’t even imagine what that trip must have been

Salem Fire Department Renovation

Insight Design

Recently, Kristen Barrow and I traveled to Salem for a project on the historic North Street Fire Station. Built in 1881, the fire station has seen some significant wear over the years, and the City of Salem is hoping to repair the station to its former state. We spent the day examining the building and taking field measurements for drawings and further studies. Although the station has an undeniable historic charm, we found a variety of issues that need to be addressed. The elaborate 1881 brick and cornice work has begun to fall apart, and despite the fact that

Micro-units and Urban Living

Insight Design

Earlier this past spring, I attended a lecture given by The Center for Real Estate and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) entitled “Micro-Housing: Rethinking Urban Living.” As the third event in the Building Boston 2030 series, the lecture was co-sponsored by Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School and the GBREB, and comprised a robust, well informed panel including the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Chief Planner Kairos Shen.

Anyone in or around the design, construction, and real estate development of urban housing in Boston can tell you the current hot topic on the street is micro-units…

Historic Histrionics

Insight Design

As part of the Edward Brooke Mattapan Charter School project, the design team is pursuing the award of historic tax credits that are administered by the National Park Service. That pursuit guided many of the scoping decisions for the renovation and restoration of the combined 1911 and 1959 vintage structures that will house the school. The historic tax credit process is mainly a linear one with required submission and review schedules, but towards the end of our construction document phase we encountered a challenge in that process that tested our agility. The project is largely an adaptive re-use of

Technology in Construction

Insight Construction

Arrowstreet relies on field reports to document the construction process on our projects. Visiting the site and making note of conditions, progress, and (occasionally) problems takes a lot of time and careful planning to manage the issues and archive the images. As the Brooke Mattapan Charter School addition/renovation enters the construction phase, we’re going to do something a little differently – using an option through Newforma (our project information management software) that allows use of a mobile app on an iPhone or iPad to immediately capture, track, and log project photos as we walk through the space. Taking advantage of new technology will speed the process even more; for instance by using the iPhone’s Siri we will be able to add text to whatever image is taken and avoid the pesky old-fashioned drag of writing notes and downloading everything once you return to the office. We look forward to never again having to invent a description of a detail that we don’t recall photographing!

The EpiCenter To Expand

Insight Design

Artists for Humanity will be expanding their studio space in South Boston with the gift of land by Gillette. It’s hard to believe the EpiCenter we designed for AFH (Boston’s first LEED Platinum building) opened almost nine years ago now. They have grown to employ more than 250 teen artists. Arrowstreet has continued to work with AFH over the years, including generating ideas for how they could expand…