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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

Boston Preservation Achievement Award Winner: Lovejoy Wharf

October 14th, 2016  |  Posted by: Greg Galer

In anticipation of our 28th annual Preservation Achievement Awards ceremony on October 24, we are profiling each of the eleven winning projects over the next several weeks. Follow this series to get a special look at projects that honor and update the character of Boston.

When is a historic building too far gone that it’s not savable? Many looking at the Hoffman Building, and in particular its pier, probably thought it was a goner when the Related Beal purchased the property in 2012. Its pier had been rotting into the harbor for a generation. Built in 1906 as a confectioner’s warehouse, operated during the 1940s to manufacture submarine parts, and later used as office space, over 100 years of haphazard renovations and additions and lack of upkeep obscured the value of bringing this industrial structure back to life. And with the completion of the Zakim Bridge and the Big Dig there were more eyeballs on this building than ever before.

Lovejoy Wharf. Photo by Gustav Hoiland.

Lovejoy Wharf. Photo by Gustav Hoiland.

Seeing potential to rehabilitate an artifact of Boston’s industrial history, Related Beal, The Architecture Team and Copley Wolff Design Group collaborated to not only revitalize the building, but to reactivate the surrounding space. Part of Boston’s Harborwalk, the building’s wharf was transformed into a vibrant, dynamic public space for office workers and passersby alike to enjoy lunch, conversation, or Boston views.

Inside the Hoffman Building, crews set to work installing new structural steel to re-mediate 1925 additions. Carefully selected period industrial materials—from charred Western Red cedar and refurbished original columns to reclaimed wood from the original wharf to concrete flooring—provided a corporate setting sensitive to the building’s industrial origins. Exposing rich, original brick created an ambiance of both history and business.

Lovejoy Wharf Before. Courtesy of The Architecture Team.

Lovejoy Wharf Before. Courtesy of The Architecture Team.

Lovejoy Wharf's pier before. Courtesy of The Architecture Team.

Lovejoy Wharf’s pier before. Courtesy of The Architecture Team.

With the idea in place to rehabilitate both the building and wharf to benefit from its now highly visible location, Lovejoy now needed a tenant who wanted to capitalize on the visibility and accessibility of the site. Converse, a shoe brand many now associate with California counter-culture – skateboarders and surfers wearing they “Chuck Taylors” – actually was formed locally, and was the perfect match. The company desired a world headquarters that was accessible to both car and foot traffic, and that cultivated connectivity between employees and customers Using reclaimed wood from the site’s old wharf, The Architecture Team created a custom serpentine staircase to maximize transparency and collaboration between Converse teams.

Bringing new energy to an underutilized if not derelict buildings requires vision and partners who can see the opportunities and value embodied in our city’s unique historic structures. Lovejoy Wharf, completed in April of 2015, is testament to the power of such a vision and a team who has brought this building and its wharf and site back to the city of Boston and the employees not just of Converse but the entire neighborhood, bringing back this historic building to the thousands of commuters who see it daily at its gateway entrance from the north. Now they too can see that buildings that seem too far gone to save can in fact be pulled from the harbor and brought back to life.

Lovejoy Wharf After. Photo by Gustav Hoiland.

Lovejoy Wharf After. Photo by Gustav Hoiland.

Do you think Lovejoy Wharf is the best of the best? Then vote for it for this year’s Fan Favorite! Vote once per day until October 24. Join us that evening at the Paramount Theater to find out if your favorite won, and to celebrate the preservation of Boston’s vibrant built environment. Tickets on sale now!

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