In the master planning process with Hood Park in 2018, a six story tower on top of the six story signature parking garage on the campus was only thought to be a distant possibility in the plan, but with the tremendous appetite for lab and research space in Boston, the far-off expansion has become a near-term reality. Hood Park filed an amendment to its approved Master Plan this month with the intention of adding a six-story lab tower to the top of the very unique, six-story parking garage/retail complex that was completed only last summer.
Owner Chris Kaneb said that the building was “coming sooner rather than later,” and that demand for life sciences space has begun to find a home in Hood Park. He didn’t say if there was a tenant identified for the proposed six-story tower – which would make the building 12-stories in total – but Hood has just leased an existing 75,000 sq. ft. floor in the garage to a life sciences company – whose lease is firm but there is still paperwork pending, Kaneb said. “The demand in the Boston market now is strongly in life sciences and we’re right there in a good position to respond to that demand,” he said.
The finished structure, including the completed garage would top out at 185 feet and would be situated in the middle of the garage – adding 254,100 sq. ft. for a total of more than 600,000 sq. ft. when adding in the existing garage. There are 802 parking spaces in the garage as of now. The project got a public airing last week at the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC), and the biggest challenge identified was to integrate architecturally a very “quiet” building into an existing and unique parking garage and retail complex.
“The foundation and core are fixed,” said Mark Rosenshein of Trademark Partners, part of the development team. “To a great degree this is a discussion about architecture and what is a very complicated design process of a very strong existing anchor base with a new form on top.” Mark Spaulding, the architect for the addition, said they wanted to include a new, low-key form on top that showed fluidity, but wasn’t something new. “The goal in the addition was to balance the fluidity and quiet,” he said. “It wasn’t about yet again adding another piece of architecture that was going to be its own… We wanted to look at this as a terminus on the street that is more quiet and keeping with the existing building.”
The addition in many respects is very simple in design, just being a six-story block dropped atop the parking garage, which was built in full anticipation of one day adding the six-story building. The design uses fenestration, solid panels and curved fins to create unity with the parking garage, and a sense of motion on the building created by a wave effect in the metal fins. Rosenshein added that they hope to provide an outdoor space on the top of the garage in space that would be at the nexus of where the garage meets the new building. That space, they hope, could be utilized by one of the ground-floor retailers as additional outdoor serving space.
“The views from there are tremendous,” he said. “It’s one of the best views of downtown Boston. Getting people up in the air at Hood Park, we think is a benefit to the culture…” BCDC member Mimi Love, as well as others, said the striking parking garage copper arch didn’t seem to be amplified by the new building, and they’d like to see a change in design to respond to that. “You really made the archway be a focal point to the garage element, but the building above it doesn’t respond to the arch,” she said. “In fact, it dwarfs the archway move.” The comment period for the addition on top of the garage ends Aug. 23. A much larger building at 10 Stack St., across the road, has already been approved.