A Boston building with a Dutch touch

Kerry Boettcher
Tuesday 12 May 2015

The Bruce C Bolling Municipal Building in Boston, designed by Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates, has just been opened to the public

Designed by Dutch practice, Mecanoo, in partnership with US-based Sasaki Associates, the Bruce C Bolling Municipal Building is a Bostonian building with a distinctly Dutch touch. 

The new municipal building, which was recently inaugurated by current Boston Mayor, Martin J Walsh, fulfils the vision of late Mayor Thomas M Menino, in rejuvenating the Dudley Square area. The building will house 500 civil servants from the from the Boston Public Schools administration, in conjunction with a community centre and retail space. 

Mecanoo and Sasaki’s design embodies Boston’s vision of a symbol of change that is freely accessible to all. It is designed to be friendly, healthy and inspirational to people of all ages. It challenges the concept of what an office building is through its open layout which promotes collaboration. 

The project unites and re-engages the existing built corners of the Ferdinand, Curtis and Waterman buildings by stitching them together in a contemporary and clever way. In blending new and old into one interconnected series of spaces, it looks to the future, while also reflecting the area’s history.

The historic façade of the five-story limestone and terra cotta Ferdinand building is restored and kept as a landmark. The new building references and embodies its historic neighbours through a time-honoured approach to craft in construction. Its contemporary interpretation of classic layering manifests itself in the brick work encompassing a number of different masonry techniques. Within the brick façade are elements in relief, casting intricate shadows and reflecting light in different ways depending on the weather. 

The ground floor is a dedicated public area providing a community gathering space and retail opportunities. The second floor, which houses the educational offices has been designed with parents and children in mind. The double height School Committee Room, surrounded by the façade of the Ferdinand Building can also be used for cultural and community activities. 

Above are three floors with educational offices and flexible work spaces: open plan floors, small enclosed offices, multiple meeting rooms, and spatial niches along the existing facades. The sixth floor houses public meeting rooms and a freely available public roof terrace with sweeping views across the Boston cityscape. 

Watch this fascinating mini-documentary exploring the complex brickwork on the building:

The 2015 WAN Civic Awards and Façade Awards are now open for entries. 

Kerry Boettcher

News editor

Key Facts:

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