The Davenport building, located in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a proud history as the Davenport/Irving Casson furniture factory and is listed on the National Register. Constructed in the mid-1800s, the 220,000-square-foot building now accommodates office space. Facing low occupancy in 2008, the owners engaged Sasaki to reimagine the space for contemporary tenants. The new design concept for The Davenport maintains the historic character of the original brick and beam structure while featuring a rejuvenated lobby and common space for tenants to meet and connect. Occupancy increased dramatically and The Davenport continues to attract innovative start-ups.
The design includes a new front door opening directly onto First Street with graphics that create a bold, inviting front entry. The vestibule is lined with eucalyptus paneling and an acrylic bench. A gallery leading to a four-story atrium displays artwork commissioned specifically for the space. Black porcelain tile is used on the floors though the atrium and adjacent spaces to create a harmonious base that complements the historic nature of the space. In contrast to the black floor, white plaster walls and soffited ceilings appear to float from the base brick structure.
The floating walls and ceilings are lit from the side and bottom. Stripes of bright white florescent light fixtures are recessed into the folding wall and ceiling of the corridor, directing guests to the new fireslate and marble reception desk. The main feature of the atrium is a 45-foot wall of fabric. Up-lighting from the floor creates depth and shadow and the natural light from the glass roof above provides changes in atmosphere over the course of the day and throughout the seasons.
A new conference center with a projection screen can be reserved by the tenants in the building. The conference center has floor-to-ceiling glazing and overlooks the indoor garden. In the garden, 30-foot stands of bamboo and canopy trees create natural spaces for groupings of dining tables. The garden provides spaces for tenants to gather and enjoy the warmer seasons. It also accommodates bike storage.