Adaptive Reuse, Active Renewal

Symphony Court | 41 Westland Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts

Located in the heart of Boston's Fenway Cultural District, the transformation of Symphony Garage into Symphony Court was a powerful example of adaptive reuse and transit oriented development. The original brick-and-stone building was built in the early 1900s as an elevator-serviced parking garage for patrons of nearby Symphony Hall.

As a significant building in the neighborhood, it was imperative for the developer and the design team to respect the history of the original façade, while also adapting it to its new use as a condominium complex.

 

Although the window structure was reorganized, through careful design consideration and materials selection, the changes are hardly noticeable. Instead, the building feels like a polished, updated version of its former self.

Past Meets Present

Inside, the building was completely demolished, reduced to concrete slabs and flared-top concrete columns. Those flared columns feature prominently in the new design, proudly displaying and integrating the history of the structure with its new purpose.

Because of the building’s previous use, floor-to-ceiling heights are generous and windows are large, allowing natural light to dive deep into the units.

An Urban Oasis

Residents of the added seventh-story penthouse level enjoy large, private walk-out terraces that offer breathtaking skyline views, and all residents are able to enjoy the common lounge and fitness room. The second-floor lounge features a common outdoor patio carved into the side of the structure, creating a unique urban courtyard experience.

Reusing old buildings is an inherently sustainable method of development. The building achieved LEED Gold certification, confirming that the best choices were made for a lasting, healthy, green building.

Living Healthy, Conserving Energy

Priorities of the project included energy efficiency, optimizing thermal envelope performance, installing ENERGY STAR equipment in units, and utilizing lighting and heating/cooling systems verified by energy modeling. A focus on the indoor environment was also an important feature of our design, both for thermal comfort and air quality. SMMA, Catamount Management (the client), and Berkeley Building Company (the general contractor) sought to provide occupants with a clean, healthy living space, with access to natural ventilation.

Working With What You've Got

Saving the project time and money for construction and materials procurement, the building at 41 Westland Avenue reuses part of the existing structure on the site, lowering the embodied energy of the building and decreasing demand for virgin materials. Perhaps most impressively, 41 Westland Avenue pursued a program of measurement and verification related to building energy use, meaning that the project implemented a long-term verification plan to ensure that it would be operating as designed for at least one year after initial occupation.

An increasing number of building owners are beginning to appreciate the value of actual building performance, and in designing the Symphony Court development, the SMMA team was able to demonstrate this value to the building owners.