1. Click image to expand

    John Horner Photography with virtual staging from Spotless Agency

  2. Click image to expand

    John Horner Photography with virtual staging from Spotless Agency

  3. Click image to expand

    John Horner Photography with virtual staging from Spotless Agency

  4. Click image to expand

    John Horner Photography with virtual staging from Spotless Agency

  5. Click image to expand

    John Horner Photography with virtual staging from Spotless Agency

  6. Click image to expand

    John Horner Photography with virtual staging from Spotless Agency

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History informs design for lofts

Jez Abbott
Monday 28 Jan 2019

Boston-based architecture firm French 2D has completed a renovation that addresses a complex site's many historical layers including one of its latest – as a backdrop for a Ben Affleck film.

Outlier Lofts are sited on an urban corner in Charlestown, where the existing structure underwent a series of reorientations that French 2D threaded together for a new design of the three-sided building.

It was built in the 19th century as a pair of connected townhouses with entrances facing a wide canal and a sea of potato sheds along a trainline. Following a fire in the 1960s the building was reoriented, with its main entrance shifted to an abutting side street, eventually becoming a bar.

The current renovation maintains the bar’s side entrance and creates three loftstyle flats, entered from the short side of the building. Each loft measures 1,529 square feet with two bedrooms and two baths.

The ghosts of previous entrances are maintained along the building's original frontage with the new window arrangements that echo the townhouse rhythm.

The architects reintroduced a third floor that was lost in the 1960s fire and incorporated a new sawtooth roof that creates a “mohawklike” profile facing the elevated highway and roads beyond. The short side of the building maintains a straightfaced integration among its more traditional neighbors.

“The reimagined building addresses the city as a new front face for a neighborhood that might otherwise be seen as inward looking,” said co-founding partner Jenny French.

For the new design, French 2D looked at the building's imagined inner life to try and accommodate it’s many historical iterations. With no signage, the bar that previously inhabited the building – ‘Old Sully’s’ – was one of the most invisible yet visible buildings in Charlestown. It also served as a location in Ben Affleck’s recent film The Town.

Colleague and co-founding partner Anda French said: “This project speculates on architectural production by misusing representational tools like virtual staging, a rendering technique popular in the real estate industry to sell empty homes, and by using orthographic drawings to conjure ghosts.”

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