Sasaki, in collaboration with the Netherlands-based design firm Mecanoo, is working with the City of Boston to design a municipal office building in Dudley Square. Located in the heart of Roxbury, Dudley Square is a mass transit hub rich with culture and history. The facility is a part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino's Dudley Square Vision Project, which seeks to revitalize the once-thriving urban neighborhood. Using the past to create the future, the facility will preserve and incorporate the iconic Ferdinand Furniture Building, an emblem of the square's historic commercial vitality. The 215,000-square-foot structure will become the headquarters of Boston Public Schools (BPS), and will include green, state-of-the-art office space, retail, civic spaces, and meeting space for the community.
The Sasaki/Mecanoo team was selected through a high-profile public process, and stood out by envisioning the municipal building as the centerpiece of what will eventually become a transformed neighborhood animated with shops, restaurants, and public spaces. "Dudley Square is a historic neighborhood at the heart of our city and its revitalization is one of the most important development projects currently underway in Boston," said Mayor Menino. "I am thrilled to have Sasaki/Mecanoo as part of the Dudley team that will unlock the potential of Dudley Square and make it a thriving center of city life once again."
Achieving the appropriate balance between the vision of the future and the historical integrity of Dudley Square is a critical component of the design process. In addition to the Ferdinand Furniture Building, the design incorporates the historic Curtis and Waterman buildings, which creates a triangle of historic facades connected by new construction. The restored Ferdinand, Curtis, and Waterman buildings will maintain the existing feel and scale of Dudley Square, and the building will add a powerful modern aesthetic. Together, these elements will create a rich texture both physically and conceptually.
The ground floor of the facility will serve as a public zone, providing both community gathering space and opportunities for economic advancement through retail and dining. The second floor will be outfitted with meeting rooms to provide an interaction zone for BPS, while the sixth floor public meeting space and roof terrace will be open and accessible to all.
Sasaki's design for the BPS offices will create a new model for municipal workers, promoting collaboration and transparency through an open layout. To support not only the staff members, but also the students and parents they support, the design is welcoming and punctuated with spaces that will facilitate interaction between BPS and the Boston community.
The design process has involved extensive public outreach and several open design forums. The Sasaki team is working closely with the city, including the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Public Facilities Department. In addition, the process has necessitated frequent review from Boston Landmarks Commission.