400 Summer Street is a 16-story commercial building located within Boston’s Seaport District. Once completed, the building will host approximately 600,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory and office spaces featuring extra tall floor to ceiling heights, as well as 30,000 square feet of neighborhood retail uses on the ground floor.
For its design, Morris Adjmi Architects created a contemporary, high-performance building that connects the context of the adjacent Fort Point Channel Landmark District—Boston’s largest and most significant collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century loft buildings—to the revitalized Seaport, which does not have a consistent style but instead features a vast range of glassy, modern styles. The firm also referenced remnants the site’s industrial waterfront setting, including disbanded railway tracks, bridges, and other historic structures found throughout the harbor. To achieve this concept, three of the building’s façades were directly inspired by the 19th-century brick warehouses found throughout Fort Point while the fourth façade, comprised almost entirely of glass, serves as a nod to the Seaport’s illustrious evolution.
Interestingly, the majority of Fort Point’s historic buildings were designed for a single company, the Boston Wharf Co., by two staff architects. As a result, many similarities between the buildings are apparent, including lofts with a recurring ratio of an articulated top, upper portion with small bays, and lower portion with large bays, as well as the consistent use of masonry. A similar progression of bays was mirrored on 400 Summer’s three masonry facades, which feature light gray brick with rectangular openings for factory-style windows, pre-finished extruded aluminum, and a stone water table at the base.
To create a dialogue between newer harbor buildings, the fourth façade, a glazed glass wall, cuts into the building’s volume and opens it up to abundant natural light, as well as the Summer Steps—a series of tiered public plazas that runs along the entire length of the building. The steps will move pedestrians in a gracious way from Summer Street down to Congress Street—connecting two very disparate and important thoroughfares, which are separated in height by 25 feet. The glass façade allows the building to connect to the steps both visually and though multiple openings, which tie into an elongated interior lobby within 400 Summer Street that also connects Summer and Congress.
In addition to providing the much needed pedestrian connection between Summer and Congress, the Summer Steps will serve as a vibrant activation of the space between 400 Summer Street and 350 Summer Street—another commercial building designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. This will be achieved through the inclusion of built-in amphitheater-style seating and gathering spaces that will allow the Steps to host a wide range of performances and community events.
The project is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification, which will be realized through sustainable designs features that allow for onsite rainwater management and the reduction of indoor water use, optimized energy performance, and enhanced commissioning. In particular, the building will be built with a high-performance, prefabricated, and unitized curtain wall system that will reduce energy consumption to a third of the national average for laboratory buildings.
Image Credits: Brick Visual