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An unlikely source of public realm activation in Boston's Seaport comes from a totally new take on the office tower—a departure from the glass box, at long last

401 Congress Street

Client
Boston Global Investors
Location
Boston, MA
Size
Approximately 600,000 SF
Services
Architecture
Landscape Architecture
Additional Services
Interior Design
Status
Anticipated completion 2022

The 401 Congress Street site (Parcel A-2) is a unique location in the Seaport. It sits at multiple crossroads: the multi-story intersection of Congress Street and World Trade Center Avenue; the gap between the lower Seaport and the Summer Street corridor; the crossing of pedestrians and interstate traffic; the coming together of multiple modes of transportation; the juncture of public realm and the commercial world. Massport, Boston Global Investors (BGI)’s development team, and Sasaki’s design team will work together to transform this parcel into a critical node of connectivity for the area—linking levels, modes of transportation, and the public and private realms.

The envisioned project rethinks the urban mixed use program to fully capitalize on the potential of the site—establishing a public realm that is not just usable, but active and energized twelve months a year. During the best days of summer it will be open and airy, and during the worst days of winter it will glow with greenery and warmth from within. It’s a design that will deliver an office product offering a truly different and captivating tenant experience.

 

From a massing perspective, the building will depart from the traditional multi-story podium built to the property lines with a tower set back above it. Instead, the design will be more human-scaled in all aspects of its articulation. The team’s approach centers around the idea of an urban push/pull. Instead of filling out the entire site at the base, the urban fabric pushes in from all directions, establishing open urban spaces on all levels and on all sides. The base of the building becomes almost entirely transparent, focusing on the creation of public space, rather than the just the entry to the office building above.

At the same time, the surrounding urban fabric pulls the corners of the building outward, gesturing to critical points of its surroundings: the harbor, the developing Seaport and Congress Street, the SBWTC and BCEC, and Summer Street. This pull accentuates visibility, both of the building from the City, and from the building to the City. It is at those pulled corners that architectural articulation occurs. The transparency found along the base continues up these corners, allowing the building to be seen through, to almost dissolve at its edges.

For more information contact Victor Vizgaitis.

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