Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
North End Loft in Boston, Massachusetts by Hacin + Associates
May 4th, 2018 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Hacin + Associates
Located within the shell of a converted 1840’s mercantile wharf building, the project involved the combination of three existing residential units into a single two-story residential loft for a high tech/low tech couple interested in celebrating modern living in an authentic Boston setting.
The three existing units were fully gutted to reveal the character of the original brick and beam construction, including all of its eccentric conditions and details, misalignments and time worn materials.
A large opening was cut between the two floors to allow for a new open tread stair with skylights above that bring light to the lower floor and enhance the sense of a double height space. In order to highlight the existing brick and beam condition, new partitions were held away from the ceiling and the faces of existing brick to create a language of crisp floating volumes that contrast with the texture of the original materials. This design approach also allows the beams to be fully exposed across spaces and brings light from windows and skylights deep into the living space. Strong sight lines and generous circulation connect the different parts of the apartment across floors and between existing brick bearing walls; large custom sliding steel panels, inspired by the building’s original fire doors, are used to close off rooms and create articulated thresholds between the residence’s different areas and functions.
As an open loft space with original surfaces left as exposed as possible, concealing the mechanics of a 21st century high-tech home proved to be a challenge. Strategically located ceilings and raised platforms, such as at the gallery, were carefully integrated into the design to accommodate these needs. In addition, each exterior window and door has a custom-made casing that holds roller shades and power, but also gives a new dimension to the space with deep window seats. Built up platforms of granite and reclaimed heart pine resolved plumbing issues, but also create a sense of division between private and public spaces and emphasize fireplace locations and seating nooks.
The clients had a strong appreciation for well-designed and hand-crafted work by local artisans working with locally sourced materials. As a result, the project was the product of an integrated team of designers, artists, and craftsman, including skilled masons, steel fabricators, concrete artisans and millworkers. A focal point of this collaboration, the custom airplane wing-shaped steel island was designed as a site specific art installation that was made to feel ‘weightless’ although it is constructed of tons of steel; illuminated by a custom-designed weighted LED light fixture and containing a state of the art convection cooktop, the island engages with the original timber columns and symbolically bridges the history of the building and its adaptive reuse. The whole project, including the locally curated collection of artwork and classic contemporary furniture, became an extension of this idea — juxtaposing modernity with history, craft, and technology. Designed and built over 2 ½ years, the project is best described as a labor of love.
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