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MESHING INTO AN EVOLVING URBAN FABRIC A LOOK AT SUCCESSFUL DESIGN IN A TRANSFORMING URBAN ENVIRONMENT


Introduction

We would like thank everyone who assisted in the research for this great project. Specifically Leers Weinzapfel Associates, without whom this would not have been possible. Additionally we would like to thank the MBTA Control Center Employees for allowing us to tour the building and providing us with significant insight into development, operations and use of the building.


A CASE STUDY JACK SHERMAN & CHRIS CROCKER NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE


TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

The Narrative Defining the time period Precedent Studies The Building Basic Information Architect Profile Site Complexity Project Proposal

The Client Stories Measures of Success The Graphic Overview

Business Design Delivery Services Purpose of Study

Online Sources In Print Sources Influential People


Abstract The Narrative Designing buildings can be an extremely daunting and difficult task. Almost all buildings are unique in scale, aesthetics and structure among many other aspects. When designing a building, change is one of the main concerns we all face as architects. A building must respond to changes on a variety of different levels. This feature is a primary concern when designing in an urban environment. The city around a building changes on a constant basis. There are many different ways to address these changes as each case has its own unique properties. Some of the major changing components architects must deal with when designing a building are: Connecting with the immediate urban context, reflecting upon new and old site conditions, dealing with infrastructure, and changing traffic patterns. Within the urban scene there are building opportunities that call for singular responses. Buildings such as high rises, cathedrals, and courthouses call for a certain visual iconography. Success in these buildings rely on there ability to reflect the spirit of its context and to illicit a particular emotional response from its viewers. The majority of buildings however rely on strict programmatic requirements and tight budgets. Success within these buildings is measured on their ability to integrate these complex needs while meshing amicably with its surrounding context. Downtown Boston is an extremely dense urban space defined by a great variety of buildings. Building designs are quite carefully articulated and highly criticized rendering it a very difficult place to design. The constant change in urban aesthetics, programmatic needs, infrastructure and technology has made the city a difficult place to design a building which will stand the test of time.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Introduction Abstract Big Dig

Basic A Period Information in Time

Mass. Governor Michael Dukakis MAX

Mayor Ray Flynn - Improved cities and parks and added an uprecedented number of public housing projects Back Bay Station Reopened (KMW)

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Americans with Disabilities Act passed

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1990

millions

1989

1988

1986

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1987

Total Number of Wireless Subscribers in

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Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

Mass. Governor William Weld Thomas Manino

Boston 2000 Plan approved as master plan for Central Artery Project (Big Dig)

oyed

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er at mput

Work

South Station Bus Terminal Opens

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ng a C

s Usi Adult

ons

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rail passen Commuter

Ted Williams Tunnel opened

1995

1994

1993

1992

1991

Boston New Office Space Construction in millions SF


Abstract Precedent Studies Florida CSX Freight Control Center

Madrid, Rio

Design projects which deal with infrastructure, become difficult when trying to satisfy the needs of the urban location and building requirements. Finished on March 29, 1989 the CSX Rail Transport Operations Center building became the technological front runner of transit control. Employing nearly 500 people and responsible for the dispatch and monitoring of 1,400 trains per day, this building became an instant icon for public transportation operations. The building contains a state of the art control center responsible for the smooth operation of all CSX trains. The highlight of the space, which is considered one of the best organization methods for a control center, is the control room (the brain of the transit operations). The control room is organized in a semicircular fashion and the central displays are a used in a rear projection screen method with a need for an abundant amount of space behind the screens for equipment and cooling. This project, meets all of the intricate and evolving needs for such an evolving building type, however, the urban fabric has not been evolving, rather it has been existing and unchanged for quite some time. An urban building should be able to endure the constantly changing city fabric. Changes much like that in Madrid, Spain. West 8 designed an infrastructural project (Madrid Rio) around various recreational buildings, public facilities, and public buildings. Tunnels were implemented in lieu of highways, to give the space back to the pedestrian and provide space for future expansion. In this case, the designers were sensitive to what was existing, and were able to synthesize the large space as a whole. Many times large expansive urban changes can leave local buildings outdated and unfitting. One instance where this occurs is in Boston, MA. The city of Boston, is old, dense, and constantly changing. One of the more recent major changes was the Big Dig project which brought the existing elevated highway and moved it below ground. The Big Dig is just one example of the continuous evolution of the city. Boston’s diversity in culture, occupation, and architecture in such a small area has created a very unique city fabric, unique to most of the world.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

Left is one of the 1400 daily trains controlled and monitored by the CSX operations control room.

Pictured below are the before and after shots of the Madrid Rio master plan, a project similar in scale to that of Bostons Big Dig.


Introduction The Building This case study focuses on a building which was able to conquer such a demanding task. The MBTA Operations Control Center designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates uniquely integrates demanding programmatic requirements while weaving into an evolving urban condition marking it a truly admirable building.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

This case study reveals a spectacular solution to this underlying question:

In an urban context, what can architects do to respond to uncertain and evolving site conditions?


Introduction Basic Information Location Architects

45 High Street Boston, MA Leers Weinzapfel Associates

Major Players

Jane Weinzapfel - Principal Architect Andrea Leers - Principal Consultant Winifred Stopps - Project Manager Bradley Johnson - Job Captain Karen Moore & David Buchanan - Design Team Leaders

Market Sector

High Technology Data Processing Center

Program Client Consultants

Project Scope

Control Center for Boston’s Subway and Trolleys. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Peabody Construction - Contractor Massachusetts Electric & Construction - Contractor Union Switch and Signals - Systems Parsons, Deleuw - Communications Engineers Ammann & Whitney - Structural, HVAC, Electrical Steven R. McHugh - Construction Specifications Renovation of an existing 5-story structure including updated floor plates, a 5-story addition and new facades.

Project Cost

$35,000,000

Schedule

1986 - 1997


Perspectives

Project Team Organization

Analysis

Bibliography

Jane Weinzapfel - Principle in charge According to Leers Weinzapfel; “The challenge was to double the building’s volume, and bring it into greater harmony with its urban context and older Boston neighbors, while reflecting both its unique function and the current energies of the city.”

Leers Weinzapfel Associates Bradley Johnson Architects, Inc. Job Captain Winifred Stopps - Project Manager

Introduction

Andrea Leers - Consulting principle

Abstract

Karen Moore design team leader David Buchanan design team leader


Introduction Architect Profile Name Location Staff

Leers, Weinzapfel Associates 75 Kneeland Street, Suite 301 Boston, Massachusetts 02111 Andrea Leers - Principal Jane Weinzapfel - Principal Joe Pryse - Principal Josiah Stevenson - Principal Jim Vogel - Senior Associate Winnie Stopps - Senior Associate Natasha Espada - Associate Tom Chung - Associate Joe Raia - Associate Gabrielle Angevine - Marketing

Building Styles

Most designs are contemporary and post modern buildings reflecting modern materials and a high regard for surrounding styles. Many projects have also been renovations of existing structures such as the U.S. District courthouse in Portland, Maine which involved the renovation to a classical style building.

Project Locations

Project taken on by the firm are primarily located on the east coast of the United States, the majority of those being in the Boston, Massachusetts area. Recent projects can be found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, Maine, Ohio, Connecticut, and North Carolina.

Client Types

Scope of Expertise Project Sizes

Clients typically follow a variety of different specializations including community centers, religious buildings institutions such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a handful of court houses. Leers Weinzapfel offers strictly architectural services with no in house consultants or expanded services. Typical project budgets range from $6,000,000 to $80,000,000.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

“You build a building and you put it in the public realm, and it doesn’t belong to you anymore, It belongs to the people who live there.”

Andrea Leers

Firm Organization Support Staff Associates

Jim Vogel Principals

Josiah Stevenson

Owners

Jane Weinzapfel Natasha Espada

Winnie Stopps

Joe Pryse

Andrea Leers

Tom Chung Joe Raia

Gabrielle Angevine


Introduction Architect Profile History

The firm is rooted in a long standing relationship between Andrea Leers and Jane Weinzapfel as both friends and colleagues. In 1964 Leers graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts in art history. Two years later Leers received her Masters of Architecture, from the Graduate School of Fine Arts, at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Leers is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Urban Design. Her background in urban design has led her to intense investigations of the urban fabric and has directed her focus primarily on the seamless weaving of new buildings with old. Jane Weinzapfel graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona’s School of Architecture. Soon after, she moved to the Boston area. She taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning from 1974 to 1976. Weinzapfel developed a specialty in transportation, and urban infrastructure, and was a part of the Women’s Transportation Seminar for many years. In addition, She served on the Mayor’s Transportation Advisory Commission for the City of Boston. With such a diverse background in transportation Weinzapfel became a forerunner in the organization of transportation systems. In 1966-1969 after Andrea Leers had received her graduate degree, she worked in an apprenticeship for Earl R. Flansburgh and Associates. Flansburgh was a prominent Boston area architect who was infamous for developing young architects, women in particular. It was here that Andrea Leers met Jane Weinzapfel and the two had chemistry from the very beginning. In 1982 the two decided to branch off on their own and began Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Inc. (LWA). A converted warehouse in Boston’s Fort Point Channel provided the new firm with an ample home for twenty-five years. The thirty-three person firm has recently moved to a new studio space in Chinatown which provides more working space and more generous light. After just a few years on their own, the MBTA began working with Leers Weinzapfel to design their new Operations Control Center. With their unique background in urban design and transportation, the pair were a perfect match for the job.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

Jane Weinzapfel (far left) and Andrea Leers are the founding principals of Leers Weinzapfel Associates.

Pictured Below are the principals and associates of Leers Weinzapfel. From left to right: Andrea Leers, Jane Weinzapfel, Jim vogel, Joe Pryse, Josiah Stevenson, Natasha Espada, Tom Chung, Winnie Stopps, Joe Raia


Introduction Architect Profile Practice Type

Typical projects sought by this firm are highly specialized. Although they have exhibited projects that veer from their traditional practice, they tend to remain close to intricate high technology related architecture. Examples of this typology include control centers, chiller plants, civic buildings with high security and the newest edition the MGH Museum and History Center. Nearly all of the projects taken on by the firm have preexisting conditions which make the design difficult and demanding.

Identity Focus

The foundation of LWA’s generous design is based around a philosophy of ‘responsiveness.’ “When we build, we have to consider ourselves, our communities, layers of time and space—we’re blending so many kinds of need,” Weinzapfel says. One question, she notes, keeps following them: “When you put something of our time into a preexisting situation, how do you make a building part of the ongoing conversation of the life of a city or of a campus?”

Mission

Collaboration Within

From www.lwa-architects.com: “Leers Weinzapfel Associates approach highly constrained and technically demanding design problems with a clear set of modernist core principles, a passion for material and detail investigation and a desire to create meaningful places for human interaction. The result is a refined and tailor-made response to each set of conditions, which conveys both conceptual consistency and specific character. The groups special strength is a mission impossible ability to meet extraordinary examples building challenges with uncommon design clarity, elegance, and refinement.” At LWA thinking and design is always done in groups. For each building, two of LWA’s four partners are assigned. Communal sketch pads are in abundance around the office and the entire firm gathers together to participate in monthly design reviews. This concept of collaborative design is one that remains a true vitality to their success.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

“In the past Andrea Leers and I have referred to our work responding to composite conditions, focusing on building and rebuilding, adding and transforming civic and community structures in conditions of extreme technical and urban complexity.�

-Jane Weinzapfel


Introduction Site Complexity History of the Site

This extremely complex site is located at the south east corner of Boston’s financial district. It was surrounded by a row of four to six story buildings which remain today and provide space for primarily office use. In the early 20th century the invention and exploration of the steel frame led to an explosion in building heights. Boston’s financial district became a major target for these new sky scrapers. What was once known as a tall city block was now engulfed by new towering structures on its northern and eastern edges. This expansion helped to define the site as a true boundary line between a very dense and fast-paced urban scene and the more calming waterfront.

Existing Building

This intricate site was previously occupied by a five-story concrete building built in 1969, owned by the MBTA, and used as its operations control center. The formerly windowless building was insufficient in meeting the growing needs of the MBTA, igniting the proposal for an addition and renovation. The building housed a transit control room on the fourth floor which was in need of a great expansion. It also possessed its own backup power sub station as a safety precaution of losing power. The building was first designed with expansion in mind. The heavy structure was designed to support an additional five stories and pierced through the roof for an easy connection.

Surrounding Context

The mid-block site comprised of four to six-story commercial buildings has two extremely opposing faces. The High Street facade lies within a canyon-like street of towering commercial buildings, while the Purchase street facade is defined by the Expressway, South Station and Boston harbor. During the week the site is flushed with business men and women progressing in a fast-paced and routine manner.

Transitional Qualities

The building sits at a truly transitional site defining the edge between the dense financial district and the waterfront. It is a true boundary line of completely contrasting zones in Boston. Additionally, the site is located along the famous big dig project which moved an elevated highway below ground. The new control center was designed and built simultaneously with the beginning of the big dig. Moving the highway below ground allowed for the introduction of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway which would begin immediately adjacent to the site, rendering it a truly transforming space.

Dimensional Restrictions

A desire to expand horizontally was denied by a dedicated and emotionally attached hardware store owner, leaving none other than a vertical solution. The extensive and intricate program must therefore be squeezed into a 77 x 110 foot plot and remain within the modest range of adjacent building heights.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

“The challenge According to Leers wasWeinzapfel; to double the “The building’s challenge was volume, and to bring double it into the building’s greater harmony volume, and bring with its urban it into context greater and harmony older Boston with its urban context neighbors, while andreflecting older Boston both neighbors, its unique while reflecting function and theboth current its unique energies function of the and the current energies of the city.” city.”

-Leers Weinzapfel


Introduction Project Proposal Important Site Considerations

Program Requirements

Scope of Work

Existing Conditions

Delivery Process

When designing in any urban site careful consideration needs to be applied to a variety of areas. An analysis of this high street site ignited primary focus in the following areas: Pedestrian Traffic Patterns, Iconography, Embracing the new greenway, Relationship of ground floor to upper floors, Program of the ground floor, Wind patterns, Overshadowing, Traffic Patterns, Opacity, Building Height, Sensitivity to adjacent buildings, visually and programmatically. During much of the design process, detailed program requirements were nonexistent. Rather the architects needed to conduct some research and speak with company employees to see what types of spaces would be needed. However, there were some requirements that were vital to the project; the most important being the two story control center. In addition to the complex control center, it was certain that the building would need: a signal control room, a computer data center, an intricate mechanical floor, offices and a bus operations control center. The scope of work changed several times during the design process. The final requirements called for a significant amount of renovation including a five story addition, complete renovation of existing floors, a new facade and the ability to maintain normal function while renovations proceed. The existing building is comprised of a seven story structure with two of those stories below grade. It was built in 1969 with a precast concrete exterior and a few tiny windows. The building was built as a response to the numerous urban riots of the time. The result was a bunker-like building aimed at protecting such vital urban infrastructure. A five story addition seemed quite feasible as the original structure was value engineered to support ten stories. While the original budget did not support a ten story structure, careful planning was done to allow for this significant expansion. Double columns ran up through the entire height of the existing building and penetrated through the roof for an easy connection later on. Additionally, the core of the building, adjacent to the hardware store is cantilevered from the large double columns with 36� deep beams spanning the width of the building. The delivery process was the typical design-bid-build.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Bibliography

“The T really wanted this to be a very organized control room and they did want it to be a place that they could bring people to show them how the T works. They also wanted a place where they could bring all the different transportation agencies together should there be an emergency. That all became part of the organization of the control room.�

Systems Analysist

mbta

Analysis

Police

management

light rail transit highspeed rail transit Bus Operations

control center

Winnie Stopps, Project Manager


Perspectives The Client Voice The Client

The client could best be defined as easy and cooperative, yet uncertain in some circumstances. Growing client needs called for several changes in the scope of work. Initially a project that was a renovation to a five story building, the OCC went through many preliminary design changes and ended as a ten story structure. The client’s final decision to expand an additional five stories also came with some indecision about the spacial uses. Initial programmatic planning became a confusion as the client was unsure of how to best utilize the space.

Prior Relationships

Prior to the OCC Leers Weinzapfel had engaged in several other projects for the MBTA as well as other transportation projects. These include projects in Hanscom field, under the Tobin Bridge, and Porter Square. However, none of these projects were comparable in size or importance as the OCC. The MBTA design and construction departments had a very good relationship with Leers & Weinzapfel Associates because of the amount of work that was done before the OCC.

Client Aspirations

The client did not have an overwhelming amount of aspirations for the project. Their main focus was to provide an adequate space for their operations control center. Additionally, they were eager to have additional space to house their growing company and expanding technologies. Ultimately, the client did not have any specific aspirations for the aesthetics of the building. They we basically concerned with the satisfaction of the BRA.

Architect Aspirations

The architects aspirations were really to create the best building possible. The young firm had not yet completed a project of this size or importance and felt compelled to deliver the best building possible. Certainly it would be a cornerstone to the future of the firm.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

“The MBTA didn’t have any strong design requirements of us. They knew that they wanted a good control room, but they basically said if the BRA was happy then they are happy with what the building looks like. So we met with the BRA from the very beginning and they had wanted to set back the building at the heights of either side of it.”

Winnie Stopps, Project Manager


Perspectives Stories 1965 Blackout

On November 9, 1965 America was shocked as the entire east coast had experienced a power failure. Trains stopped, traffic lights went out and entire cities were left in the dark. The only building that remained illuminated was the MBTA operations control center. The power sub station below the building was sufficient enough to keep it up and running. Ultimately, once the problem was found, the control center sub station was used to ignite power to the rest of the east coast.

Site Acquisition

One interesting story involved the acquisition of the site. While the existing building was a sure choice for an expansion, the MBTA was hoping to acquire the small, run-down hardware store next door for additional space. The store was owned by a very proud and very attached Native American man, who also owned a great portion of Beacon Hill. This man, one of the richest men in Boston, was offered a seemingly absurd amount of money for his building, but he respectfully declined. Ironically at the time, the hardware store became sandwiched between two major construction sites (the OCC and NSTAR) and thrived off the business created from these projects. Unfortunately today, all that is left is an abandoned run-down building (pictured to the right), likely to soon be destroyed. The denial of this property was initially thought to be a large deciding factor in determining how the MBTA OCC was designed. However, it was actually an unsystematic move by the MBTA and had minimal impact on the project. The circulation core rests firmly against this old hardware store and it would not have been advantageous to extend the building to the other side dividing the major programmatic elements.

Adjusting To New Technologies

One major concern during the construction of the building was maintaining proper operations during construction. According to Glenn Camilien (MBTA Systems Specialist), the existing bus and subway control room was located on the third floor. This room stayed intact while the fifth floor addition and the new systems were under construction. In order to assure smooth operation of the buses and subway during the transition, the operators eased their way into the new systems. During the week, they remained on the third floor and used their current and familiar systems, while on the weekends they moved to the 7th floor until they were completely comfortable with the new system.

To the right are some views of the adjacent hardware store, the most recent being on the left. The store is currently vacant and the building has been run down.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Perspectives Measures of Success Users Opinion

“Yes the personnel started operation the Control Center in mid September 1997. For the most part it has been a very successful project. Although myself and our systems programmer have redone both the overview and console. We updated for Y2K in 1999 and to Linux on Intel boxes in 2003 and in 2008 updated to the latest stable Linux environment. I have been the systems hardware and network maintainer of the system for nearly 12 years. The OCC has been visited by over 50 countries around the world due to its uniqueness.� Glenn Camilien MBTA OCC Systems Specialist

Awards

Certainly a buildings success can partially be measured by public recognition. The operations control center has been chosen for several design awards including the following: American Institute of Architects New England Award, 1998 National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Merit Award, 1995 Progressive Architecture Design Award Citation, 1992 Boston Society of Architects Honor Award, 1990


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

“I do feel that the building was a success we managed to create a good interface between the exterior urban design challenges and the interior severe technical constraints. I think it has held up well.�

Winnie Stopps, Project Manager


Perspectives The Graphic Overview Drawings

9th + 10th Floor Executive Offices

7th Floor Control Room

3rd Floor Bus Operations

6th Floor Lockers + Lunch Room

2nd Floor Signal Control Room


Abstract

Introduction

Existing Building Outline

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

According to Leers Weinzapfel; “The challenge was to double the building’s volume, and bring it into greater harmony with its urban context and older Boston neighbors, while reflecting both its unique function and the current energies of the city.”


Perspectives The Graphic Overview Exterior Qualities


Abstract

Introduction

Above is a harbor-side view taken from the lunch room balcony. To the right is a picture of the harbor-side facade. The picture was taken just after completion, before the NSTAR facility was built. The hardware store is still in tact.

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Perspectives The Graphic Overview The Control Room


Abstract

Introduction

The operations control room on the 7th floor is truly the most spectacular space within the building. The dimlit space is wrapped by state of the art rear projection screens for the oversight of all subway activity.

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Perspectives The Graphic Overview Interior Finishes

Several of the floors are solely used for operating and communication systems such as the 4th floor pictured above.


Abstract

Introduction

The nicest finishes in the building are found in the corridor zone while nearly all of the office spaces are decorated with very modest finishes.

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Perspectives The Graphic Overview Harbor Side Facade

OP E R AT ION S C ON T R OL CE NTE R Boston Massachusetts

The harbor side facade receives a significant amount of morning sunlight. The large windows L E E R S W E I N Z A P F E L A S S O C I AT E S A R C H I T E C T S I N C on the ninth and tenth floor allow for a great amount of sunlight to enter the executive office suites during the winter while in the summer much of that direct light is blocked by the large overhang.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Perspectives The Graphic Overview High Street Facade


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

The High Street facade is completely overcast by the towering buildings across the street. During much of the day the facade is spotted with dramatic light reflections from these adjacent towers.


Perspectives The Graphic Overview Weathering

While the stone remains in spectacular shape, there are some signs of weathering on many of the facades steel members.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Analysis Business Firm Practices

At the time when the design was began, the firm was young and with the exception of Andrea Leers and Jane Weinzapfel the highest amount of experience was 10 years. Winnie Stopps was just out of school, along with a number of others working on the project. The architectural firm’s philosophy is expressed through their work. Jane Weinzapfel has also described the firms work in a lecture titled Made to Measure saying, “In the past Andrea Leers and I have referred to our work responding to composite conditions, focusing on building and rebuilding, adding and transforming civic and community structures in conditions of extreme technical and urban complexity.” Jane Weinzapfel and Andrea Leers as the founding partners of Leers Weinzapfel Associates have worked hard through their careers as strong women in the field, looking to design difficult projects in difficult places and make a positive impact upon the places where people work . The MBTA OCC is one such building where the ideals of Andrea and Jane extended through their firm to the rest of its architects and designers. Winnie Stopps was the project architect on the job with a design team which included Karen Moore and David Buchannan. All of these members of the firm worked together to create a project that was as intricate on the interior as it is on the exterior. A project which related back to existing conditions around the site while continuing to operate for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The design team, although working diligently required the firms feedback as well. On occasion, throughout the design process, the firm would hand out notes on the project and hold in-house reviews of the project to discuss design and logistical issues. The result of these meetings was a clear design approach and connection with the existing building and surrounding fabric.

Project Acquisition

Leers Weinzapfel was originally hired by the MBTA as an interior design consultant to DeLeuw, Cather who are now known as Parsons. DeLeuw, Cather was responsible for the system designs. The original project that the MBTA had in mind was to modernize their existing control room in place, in the five story building. Team members quickly realized that the existing control room would not be sufficient to support train supervision twenty-four hours a day. The scope of the project quickly expanded to a two-story addition moving the control room to the new upper floors. Not long after, they realized that they were still short on space and decided to take advantage of the fact that the structure was designed for ten stories. The project scope now called for a five story addition and what was once a smaller interiors project for the young architecture firm became a major addition and renovation.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Contractor Relationship The relationship with the contractor has been described as cordial and collaborative. The project manager, Winnie Stopps, was the main contact between the contractor and architect. In addition to weekly meetings, Winnie made a brief site visit every day to resolve issues before they could balloon. According to Camilien, relationships among parties were cordial with the exception of Parsons (the systems design). Towards the end of the project, the MBTA ended up tossing Parsons off the property in a termination agreement. Evidently, Parsons was aware of their misdemeanor. They sent employees back to the site to assure that their bad experience would not be shared nor held against them in the future, as they were bidding on other control center projects such as the New York City Transit Project. Contracts The major contract for the architect was with Deleuw, Cather which mirrored the MBTA standard contract. The constant changes in the scope of work and services were negotiated as supplements to the contract.

Analysis

Bibliography

“It was serendipity basically how a young firm like ours got to do such a major project. We were actually hired as interior designers and the project just kept growing, and we were the ones who knew the most about it so they stuck with us.� Winnie Stopps, Project Manager


Analysis Design Design Approach

Playing the role of the Project Architect Winnie worked on the design along with David Buchannan and Karen Moore. The project was approached much like a school project, determining early on what the building had to do and what the program was. The firm held design charrettes in the office where ideas and early design solutions were discussed in a group setting. Remarkably, the final design looks strikingly similar to one of the preliminary designs presented on the very first day. Early designs of the building provided gestures to make a more sculptural face on the central artery side and a more restrained face on the High street side. This strategy remained quite dominant throughout the design process and is evident in the building today. The building looks much like an initial design drawing which was done during a first round design charette with the office. Initially it was unclear what the exterior materials would be, but there were gestures in making a more sculptural façade on the Purchase Street side of the building and a strained façade on the High Street Side. The High Street side of the building fluctuates in depth within two feet, however on the Purchase Street side of the building the façade fluctuates over a seven foot distance. The reasoning behind more depth and fenestration on the Purchase Street side of the building was due to the sight lines to the building from the more open waterfront districts of Boston. The elevated expressway was not of concern because the elevation in the highway did not take place until further into the city. The High Street side of the building was not given as much attention in detail because of sight lines and the need to align with adjacent properties. The city on this street was full of buildings which were high rises and historical in nature, and would not change drastically.

Integrating Design with its Surroundings

The fabric surrounding the existing site of the MBTA’s OCC consisted of classical-like buildings of neutral colored stone and red brick. The facades of these buildings were laden with windows and fenestration in the cornice. The new MBTA OCC was free from windows on many of the floors, due to the need of high security and change in environment in the control room, data center, switch room, and mechanical floor. In order to break up the expansive surface the façade was expressed in a few areas on the Purchase Street side with a metal framework and grillage The Steel Balcony on the harbor side of the building was an element brought in during early stages of the design process. It serves a variety of different purposes. First, it is used as an element to give scale to this side of the building. It also connects in with the attic of the more classic weld building next door, and serves as the lunchroom balcony. Finally, the steel used from this building is sized and colored to match the Northern Avenue Bridge just across the street drawing visual connections to its greater site.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

circul ation

circul ation

circul ation suite

circul ation suite

core core e x e c u t i ev xe e c u t i v e offices offices offices offices offices offices

office

office core

core

circul roomcircul control room control ation ation

offices offices offices officescore offices officescore locker rooms locker rooms

circul kitchencircul balcony kitchen balcony

m e c h a n i cmaelation c h a n i c a lation

core core c o m p u tceor m p u t e r offices offices offices offices offices offices

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bus operations busation operationsation offices

offices

offices core

offices offices

core

offices

circulcontrolcircul signal control signal ation ation

soffices e coffices u r ioffices ty soffices ecore coffices u r ioffices t y core

Analysis

Bibliography


Analysis Design Integrating Design with its Surroundings

The BRA initially wanted setbacks on the new building to elated to the adjacent buildings, however, if that was done then the large rooms which were required for the MBTA would not come to fruition. The control room which was a semicircular shape need the space due to the large, rear-projection video screens required. The steel structure at the 6th floor gave it a sense of stepping back and relating to the adjacent Weld building. The cornices on either side of the building were reminiscent of the classical cornices in the area. Early stone selections were chosen to work with the materials in the area. Eventually, it was decided to use the same Stony Creek Granite which can be found in the adjacent South Station. That same stone became widely used in nearby projects including a Big Dig vent building, an additional high rise in Dewey Square and the nearby NSTAR building.

Restrictions

Leers Weinzapfel did not have any major design constraints. The Landmark building was concerned that they would lose view of the harbor with the addition. Their concerns were quelled after convincing them of a cavity space in their building directly across from where the construction was taking place and loss of views would hardly be significant. The setbacks in faรงade had to be carefully articulated. The need for the entire length of the space between High Street and Purchase Street was necessary to allow for enough clearance for the control center. The control room which was a semicircular shape needed the space. All the visual equipment (back projection video) was large and required a great deal of freedom. They were able to comply to the letter of the access code at that time. Although a handicap ramp was not possible at the High Street entrance a wheelchair lift was provided in the lobby. On the Purchase Street side a ramp was provided, so if necessary the building could be accessed from either face. Prior to the new renovations, the only means of access into the building was through a flight of stairs on the High Street side. The BRA was involved every step of the way. During the bidding process the firm experienced some legal implications leading to a draught period of inability to continue work. This happened around 1989. An additional restriction was evident during the construction period. Maintaining a functioning control room throughout the building process proved to be quite difficult and lead to a long construction period with many complex phases.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Analysis Design Most Influential Members

Jane Weinzapfel - Principal in charge Winnie Stopps - Project Manager David Buchanan - Design Team Karren Moore - Design Team Buchanan and Moore were two members of the design team and developed the initial design schemes which most resemble the building today. Buchanan is now a co-founder of Horst Buchanan Architects Inc. in Jamacia Plain MA. A successful firm specializing in residential design. Moore is currently a principal designer at Imai Keller Moore Architects in Boston MA specializing in commercial design.

Innovation

The major call for innovation in the project was found within the need to keep the existing control room functioning throughout the renovation. This required a great amount of collaboration between the architects and the contractors. Leers Weinzapfel had generated a basic construction plan to achieve this goal. The approach was outlined in the contractual documents but because the process was based around means and methods, the contractor was responsible for implementing the phasing. They did in fact remain close to the original suggestions. One particularly challenging construction phase was removing the walls from the existing building. To minimize the disturbance on the control room floor, the contractors first built the new exterior within the old exterior walls. Once they were finished they removed the old precast concrete faรงade.

Other Design Considerations

The Big Dig was certainly a project contributing to the dramatic change of the site. Interesting enough, the project did not seem to have an effect on the design process. The elevated highway was not considered a major factor, nor was the entrance to the tunnel which would soon be right next to the site. The purchase street side was fairly free of obstruction. There was however a Vent Building nearby which reduced views to the building. It was known however that this building would soon come down. When program was put together, it naturally fell into two bands grouped together which is now expressed on the faรงade. Some of these groupings called for significant daylight and views while others, such as the control room, needed a space free of distractions.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

DESIGNCONSTRUCTION INTEGRATION Leers Weinzapfel hired as interior design consultant.

Initial out-bid was placed and recieved an abundance of low offers from eager contractors. Legal issues required the construction job to undergo a second bidding process.

Project scope began changing and expanding from a basic renovation to possible additions.

Construction began.

Initial meetings with the Boston Redevelopment Autnority.

Construction finished and new computer systems were added.

MBTA decided to expand the project to include a five story addition.

Integration of services and testing

Architects met with building users and stakeholders to clarify program requirements.

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996


Analysis Delivery The BRA Influence

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) had played a role in the initial stages of this project, and were influential throughout the entire design process. As a Design-Bid-Build project, the process was drawn out substantially due to the complications with the bid, existing building and existing site. The BRA was happy to work with Leers Weinzapfel Associates and they built what they considered a collegial relationship. During the design phase, the scope of work went from a simple renovation to a five story addition. The BRA who seemed more concerned with the outcome of the building than the MBTA was very complient with these changes but kept a close eye on any design progress.

Permits

For the first time, the MBTA decided it would be best to receive a state permit for this new project. The MBTA would usually take the position that they were a state agency and did not require a building permit. This was the first time they felt that they would be good neighbors and review the design with the city. A city building permit was not attained (a state permit was) but the design was reviewed with all the city agencies.

Code Compliance

The project was able to comply with the Access Code at that time. A ramp was not able to be put in on the High Street side, however, a wheelchair lift in the lobby was provided. On the Purchase Street side a ramp was provided, so if necessary the building could be accessed from either face. Prior to the edition of the building a flight of steps in the lobby was the only means of access to the building.

Budget

During the bid process in 1989 the initial bid was submitted and found to be two million dollars under the original estimate of the job. The MBTA decided to take advantage of this and work with the architect to increase spaces within the building all totaling one million dollars in change orders, still leaving the final price one million dollars below the original estimate. Before this process was over the initial bid was thrown out and legal action was taken, delaying the final design process while another bid was resubmitted in late 1989 into 1990.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography

When the project scope grew from a simple renovation to a 5-story addition, the management also experienced a shift, as Leers Weinzapfel began to take over the major control.

Parsons

m b t a BRA Peabody Leers Weinzapfel

Control Shift

LeersWeinzapfel

m b t a BRA Peabody

Parsons


Analysis Services Architects Scope

In the initial stages of their hire for the project, Leers Weinzapfel was to provide simply interiors services. Their services shifted however when the scope of work increased from interior services to a full design and phase planning of a five story addition upon the existing five story building. The phasing plans were ideas, conveyed to Peabody on how construction should proceed while maintaining full function of the control room. The process began with Leers Weinzapfel Associates interviewing MBTA personnel in order to understand the programmatic needs of the users. The design then began to take shape in a school like approach within the office, identifying the program, formulating a plan of attack and holding design charettes. Once the attack was formulated, the exterior façades were developed into a series of pairs which were presented to the BRA. Meeting with the BRA on a constant basis was important for the architectural firm to avoid surprises and help control extravagant design moves. The MBTA was dependant on the BRA’s design approval, stating that ‘if the BRA was happy so was the MBTA’.

Pairing of Floors

1st Floor: Lobby, Plans and schedules storage and offices 2nd Floor: Switch Room 3rd Floor: Old OCC remained in service; switch over was made to 7th Floor – Currently Bus Operations 4th Floor: Computer Room 5th Floor: Mechanical Floor and Office 6th Floor: Seminar Rooms, and Lockers 7th Floor: Operations Control Center 8th Floor: Mezzanine Operations Control Center 9th Floor: Executive Offices 10th Floor: Executive Offices

Additional Services

Further services were conducted after the design phase of the project, which included overseeing the construction process and phasing from integrating the new structure with the existing, until the integration of the new technology systems. After the relocation of the control room, from the 4th floor to the new 7th floor & 8th floor mezzanine levels Leers & Weinzapfel Associates completed their services.


Abstract

Introduction

In order to finalize the building, Parsons continued with integrated testing which lasted for a couple years from 19941996 when the building was completed. It was not until the design of the NSTAR building located approximately one hundred feet away (pictured right) that Leers Weinzapfel was contacted again regarding the MBTA OCC. The designers of the NSTAR building approached Leers & Weinzapfel Associates to discuss some details and materials used on the building in order to incorporate similar details and the same stony creek granite used on the MBTA faรงade.

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Analysis Purpose of Study Learning Plan

As a learning tool, this case study was selected to make evident the issues which can develop around designing buildings in uncertain and evolving sites. The information complied gives an overview from conception to fruition. The MBTA Operations Control Center was a project which dealt with not only changing site conditions in its immediate surroundings, but considers the adjacent infrastructural and city fabric changes as well. Education on the matter of uncertain and evolving site conditions should be taught to all architects and interns to develop methods and understandings on the complications which arise. In this example, complex issues surfaced as major infrastructural changes were happening immediately adjacent to the site. Additionally, the project was highly governed by an outside party, the Boston Redevelopment Authority. In order, to instruct current and future architects to understand the full scope of how to tackle such obstacles, it is important to understand existing site conditions, previous design moves, and possible impacts the newly designed structure may have on the immediate site and surrounding fabric. It is hopeful that the lessons learned from this case study will enlighten all of those in the design field of what to expect from the design process, construction process, and the implications a building will have well after it is completed. It is a look at how one building has successfully addressed and evolved with the site around it. Additionally, it is a precedent for how a young architect or intern can conquer complex issues which may seem superior to their training.


Abstract

Introduction

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Bibliography Online Sources

http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20080220/mission-impossible-architecture http://www.lwa-architects.com/ http://video.construction.com/ http://www.macro.com/transportation_mass_transit_rail_systems_key_projects.htm http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1215/is_n5_v190/ai_7627983 http://www.flickr.com/ urbanity.blogsome.com/.../

In Print Sources

Pellino, Joyce. “Designing Women.” Boston Business journal (2008). “CSX: “Welcome to the 21st Century.” - CSX Rail Transport’s Jacksonville operations center - includes article: Advancing the Science of Crew-Calling.” Railway Age (1989).


Abstract

Introduction

Most Influential Contacts Glenn Camilien MBTA OCC Systems Specialist Winnie Stopps, AIA, LEED AP Leers Weinzapfel Associates Project Manager Gabrielle Angevine Leers Weinzapfel Associates Marketing Director Megan Mattaliano Leers Weinzapfel Associates Administrative Assistant Andrew Gilday MBTA Building Engineer Lori Colangelo Parsons Sub-Sector Manager, Rail Systems Darren Baird Goulston & Storrs, Counsellors at Law Director Steven McHugh Steven Mchugh Architect Architect, Specification Writer

Perspectives

Analysis

Bibliography


Introduction


Introduction

Case Studies: Meshing into an Evolving Urban Fabric  

Through a close examination of an in-depth project case study, students at Northeastern University's School of Architecture speculate on pos...

Case Studies: Meshing into an Evolving Urban Fabric  

Through a close examination of an in-depth project case study, students at Northeastern University's School of Architecture speculate on pos...

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