When the Boston Water and Sewer Commission chose a site for their new headquarters, it was with a view to spur the redevelopment of a district in need of investment. The site in Lower Roxbury was occupied by an abandoned warehouse and an empty multi-story industrial building next to state-owned land that had remained undeveloped for decades. The development program called for the adaptive reuse of the warehouse and additions to the building in order to accommodate the consolidated industrial operations and administrative functions of the Commission.
DHK responded to this challenging assignment with a design that completely transformed the property inside and out. An additional floor was built to house administrative functions and parking; a vehicle maintenance facility was added to one side and a glass enclosed customer entrance and service pavilion was added at the most prominent corner of the site. What had been a drab concrete behemoth became an attractive symbol of municipal services with an elegant cladding of glass, aluminum, and limestone.
The final building configuration totaled 315,000 square feet, almost double the size of the original structure. Program space includes lobbies, administrative and executive offices, conference rooms, maintenance and storage rooms, locker areas and changing facilities, technical laboratories, a warehouse and vehicle storage and maintenance facilities.
A faceted glass atrium anchors the building to the most public corner of the site and provides a welcoming gesture. The project also included partial demolition and rehabilitation of an adjacent light industrial building, and surface parking for 500 cars on adjacent sites.
We designed a new entry vestibule for the main entry to the faceted glass atrium which anchors the building and is now an iconic feature near the corner of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Harrison Avenue. The new vestibule will include ADA upgrades such as push buttons and completely level surfaces as well as a thermal barrier/transition space between the exterior and interior. The new entry vestibule was designed to respect and maintain the existing architectural elements of the main entry. In addition, we are designing impact resistant bollards on the sidewalk at the three entries on Harrison Avenue.