Today’s Boston Building Babble installment, sponsored by I-90.
I traveled this weekend on 90 several times to and from downtown Boston, resulting in several serendipitous encounters with 360 Newbury. Each time I peered out the window, I recalled Frank Gehry redesigned it, and was still shocked he did.
Franky is most known for his avant-guard designs similar to the Stata Center at MIT. (You know it well after exploring it on the Perfect Mile: MIT Architecture Tour). Remember, the building that the architect himself once said, “looks like a party of drunken robots got together to celebrate.”???
360 Newbury’s design, is shockingly subdued in contrast. It doesn’t yell at you from across the street like the undulating forms do at the Stata Center; 360 blends in effortlessly with the brick clad structures of Newbury Street.
The original structure, built-in 1920, has went under major renovations by Frank Gehry twice, in the 80s and 2005. Frank O. Gehry and Associates collaborated with Boston-based architectural firm Schwartz/Silver Architects on the redesign in 1987.
Back in 1989 the team won the Merit Award from the California Regional Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and in 1991, the team won the AIA’s National Honor Award, and the Harleston Parker Medal from the City of Boston and the Boston Society of Architects (BSA).
It no surprise that these two firms teamed up on this project. Schwartz/Silver Architects revitalized the Boston Aquarium in a similar cladding style found on 360 Newbury, and many of Frank Gehry’s designs.
360 Newbury’s redesign took place during the beginning of Frank’s career. It was during the 80s, a time where he was designing small homes in Santa Monica and Venice beach, including his own. Speaking of his home, the building is mainly constructed out of chain-link fencing and corrugated metal. It is a pretty crazy sculpture hidden mostly by concrete walls and dense plantings surrounding the property.
This adaptation of unfinished or crude materials emulated his style of work, Deconstructivism. The skin and envelope of a form, within the Deconstructivism style, is “deconstructed” to be depicted as singular forms. Deconstructivism has been greatly influenced by the Cubist artistic movement which depicts movement and form in a series of broken down stages. Gehry, among other famous and infamous Architects, developed this style into built form.
The Deconstructivism style of Gehry’s work, exists in the re-cladding of the south wall along I-90 in lead-coated copper. The wall is broken into small elements of overlapping material creating a fish-scale like façade treatment. Metal struts support a distinctive roof overhang and a canopy around the main entrance on the northwest corner of the building.
The 2005 renovation re-zoned the building from rental office space, and into luxury condominiums. Want to live in this awarding winning property? You can…for a low monthly rate:
Boston Building Babble will give you weekly insight on buildings across Beantown. Feel free to use the random facts you learn to impress your mother, girlfriend, or dodgeball coach.
Any suggestions for next week, feel free to contact me!