Development in historic Boston has traditionally followed one of two tracks – meticulous preservation and restoration or wholesale demolition and new construction. Congress Square represents an alternative, combining the best of the old and the new through adaptive reuse. With 530,000 square feet of space at Fidelity Investments’ former headquarters located in Boston’s Financial District, this cluster of office buildings is designed to energize the streetscape, transform the historic neighborhood and position this area as a dynamic destination in Boston.
In keeping with this desire to reinvigorate the downtown core and attract a new class of tenants and visitors, the design of Congress Square rebrands the area and creates 24/7, pedestrian-friendly activities including a mix of residential, multi-level retail, offices and a boutique hotel. Prominent features of the design include a new elevator core being built in a former light well enabling a more open floor plate with expansive sightlines, a dynamic custom curtainwall addition atop 40 Water Street offering seven additional floors of office and amenity space, and a custom designed, sculptural FRP soffit designed to provide the addition with a unique depth and texture as it floats above the existing cornice line. These new features carefully integrate with the existing cityscape, preserving the historic quality of the original buildings’ classic architecture.
At the center of Congress Square is the transformation of an underutilized service alley into Quaker Lane, an active and vibrant pedestrian walkway with engaging ground level retail, outdoor seating and dining options. The heart of the project will be integrating Quaker Lane with the surrounding buildings and turning it into an urban oasis of outdoor seating, food and entertainment—a surprising transformation given its current use.