Facade Alterations by Bruner/Cott Turn Steam Plant Inside Out

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Bruner/Cott renovated a 1925 McKim, Mead & White steam plant to create a new student event space for Amherst College. (David Lamb)

Bruner/Cott renovated a 1925 McKim, Mead & White steam plant to create a new student event space for Amherst College. (David Lamb)

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.

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Renovations underway to help MASS MoCA become the nation’s largest contemporary art museum

Architecture, Art, East, Interiors, Other
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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Interior of MASS MoCA's Building 6. (Courtesy Bruner/Cott)

Interior of MASS MoCA’s Building 6. (Courtesy Bruner/Cott)

MASS MoCA’s rambling campus in the former factory town of North Adams, Massachusetts, has been 25 years in the making, and is now entering its third phase of development, starting with the rehabilitation of Building Six, a 120,000-square-foot space that’s able to be flexibly programmed to create “Museums within the Museum.”

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High-Tech History by Hacin + Associates

Architecture, East, Envelope
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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Hacin + Associates' District Hall is the centerpiece of Boston's new Innovation District. (Bruce Martin)

Hacin + Associates’ District Hall is the centerpiece of Boston’s new Innovation District. (Bruce Martin)

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.

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Boston wants to build the most walkable Olympics ever if its selected to host the 2024 games

(Courtesy Boston 2024)

(Courtesy Boston 2024)

As you’ve probably heard by now, Boston blew past the likes of Los Angeles and San Francisco to be selected as the United States’ bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. With the announcement official, Boston 2024, the private nonprofit spearheading the bid, has publicly released the presentation it gave to the Olympic Committee back in December.

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Digital Incan Masonry by Matter Design

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Matter Design's Round Room was inspired by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction. (Courtesy Matter Design)

Matter Design’s Round Room was inspired by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction. (Courtesy Matter Design)

Architects update pre-Columbian building method with modern tools and materials.

Matter Design‘s latest installation, Round Room (on display at MIT‘s Keller Gallery last fall) was born of a “marriage” between two of the firm’s ongoing interests, explained co-founder Brandon Clifford. First, Clifford and partner Wes McGee had long hoped to work with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC). Clifford, moreover, had been impressed during a trip to Cuzco by the Incan wedge method of masonry construction, in which precisely-carved stones are aligned on their front face, then backfilled with mortar. “This seemed like a tremendously rational way of building,” he said. “Ever since then we had been wanting to do a project that translates that process into digital design.” With Round Room, designed and fabricated in cooperation with Quarra Stone, Matter Design did just that. Though inspired by pre-Columbian building practices, the installation firmly situates the wedge method in the digital age.
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On View> The Boston Society of Architects digs into the future of typography in new exhibition

Design, East, On View
Friday, January 16, 2015
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(Courtesy BSA)

(Courtesy BSA)

 

Stereotype: New directions in typography
The Boston Society of Architects
290 Congress Street, Suite 200
Boston, MA
Through May 25

The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) is currently exploring the boundaries and possibilities of traditional typography with an exhibition called Stereotype: New directions in typography. To delve into the future of the form—and to raise questions about what is next for it—the BSA is presenting works from 14 up-and-coming and established designers from around the world.

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New Buildings Institute catalogues the nation’s net-zero buildings

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation's headquarters in Los Altos, California is a relatively rare example of certified net-zero built work in the U.S. Completed in 2012, the building features a sophisticated cooling system, natural ventilation, and is certified LEED Platinum. (Jeremy Bittermann via Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis)

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s headquarters in Los Altos, California is a relatively rare example of certified net-zero built work in the U.S. Completed in 2012, the building features a sophisticated cooling system, natural ventilation, and is certified LEED Platinum. (Jeremy Bittermann via Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis)

The Vancouver-based New Buildings Institute (NBI) tracks energy efficient built work, and their 2014 update, “Getting to Zero”, provides a snapshot of the emerging U.S. market for net-zero buildings—those are structures that use no more energy than they can gather on site.

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Plans Released for the Largest Energy Positive Commercial Building on the East Coast

Rendering of EpiCenter in Boston (Courtesy Behnisch-Architekten)

Rendering of EpiCenter in Boston (Courtesy Behnisch-Architekten)

Behnisch Architekten has big, green aspirations for its latest project, the EpiCenter, fittingly located in Boston’s Innovation District, the burgeoning neighborhood designed for such far-reaching goals. The firm just unveiled plans for a new expanded headquarters for the non-profit, Artists for Humanity (AFH), an organization dedicated to helping underserved youth through paid employment opportunities in the arts.

More after the jump.

Radlab Makes Music with Moiré

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Radlab's Clefs Moiré brings life to the lobby of a Boston-area apartment building. (Courtesy Radlab)

Radlab’s Clefs Moiré brings life to the lobby of a Boston-area apartment building. (Courtesy Radlab)

Undulating birch walls create pockets of privacy in an apartment building lobby.

When Boston design and fabrication firm Radlab began work on Clefs Moiré, the permanent installation in the lobby of One North of Boston in Chelsea, Massachusetts, they had relatively little to go on. They knew that the apartment building’s developer wanted a pair of walls of a certain size to activate the lobby space, but that was about it. “Normally we get more information, so we can come up with a story—a concept based on the building and its requirement,” said Radlab’s Matt Trimble. “For this we pulled back and said, we have an opportunity to be a little more abstract about how we approach this conceptually.” Inspired by moiré patterning and a harpsichord composition by J.S. Bach, the team designed and built two slatted birch walls whose undulating surfaces embody a dialog between transparency and opacity.
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Gritty site underneath Boston’s I-93 to become public space…and parking lot

Art, East, Transportation, Urbanism
Monday, October 6, 2014
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01_Infra_Space_BeforeThe possible future of "Infra Space 1". (Courtesy MassDOT)

 

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation wants to transform a gritty site underneath Interstate 93 in Boston into a public space that people actually want to visit—or at least park their car. BostInno reported that the $6 million project, called “Infra-Space 1”, is part of MassDot’s wider initiative to give new life (and lighting) to vacant lots underneath the city’s elevated infrastructure.

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House in Cambridge by Armando and di Robilant

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Armando and di Robilant updated an historic Cambridge home with a layered facade and oversize windows. (Paolo Rosselli)

Armando and di Robilant updated an historic Cambridge home with a layered facade and oversize windows. (Paolo Rosselli)

A translucent polycarbonate skin transforms an early-19th century Massachusetts home.

On a well-traveled street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about halfway between Harvard University and MIT, sits a house not like its neighbors. Its simple massing and pitched roof indicate old bones. But its skin is all 21st century. The house, recently renovated by Alessandro Armando and Manfredo di Robilant, is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels that reveal the structural and insulating layers beneath. For the architects, the project was an experiment in applying a cladding system designed for large-scale projects to a single-family home. “We thought this could be a possible test-bed for something more standard, something that could at least be thought of as a standard way of renovating and improving a typical American detached house,” said di Robilant. “This house is very small, but we’re now trying to fit it toward possible standardization of this approach.” Read More

On View> Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil at MASS MoCA

Art, East, On View
Monday, January 13, 2014
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(Courtesy MASS MoCA)

(Courtesy MASS MoCA)

Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil
MASS MoCA
87 Marshall St., North Adams, MA
Through September 1, 2014

Izhar Patkin: The Wandering Veil is a survey of the Israeli-born, New York-based artist. Grand, labyrinthine, yet intimate, the exhibition occupies the entirety of MASS MoCA’s largest gallery. The works on display are rich with personal narrative, political metaphor, and myth, highlighting the many formal innovations Patkin has pioneered in the course of his 30-year career. The show’s centerpiece is a cycle of spectacular mural-size paintings on tulle fabric that are making their U.S. debut. Entitled “Veiled Threats,” the cycle was inspired by the late Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali’s writings on memory, loss, love, and exile. Co-organized by MASS MoCA, The Wandering Veil is coming to Massachusetts from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Tefen Open Museum in Israel, where it premiered last year.

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