99 South Street competition at Boynton Yards presented the opportunity for an iconic tower to serve as a landmark for innovation in Somerville. Located at the southeast corner of Boynton Yards, the 12-story tower would occupy a pivotal location in Somerville’s skyline with clear visibility from Boston and Cambridge. With ~380,000 SF of flexible lab/ office and retail space, the building would serve as an attractor for the vision of Union Square as a new technology hub.
The proposed design addresses the key challenge of a site mitigating between different urban scales by creating a respectful and engaging high-rise, composed of a clearly defined 4-story podium and a floating tower above. The offset tower allows for a unique 5th story with the potential for a quieter viewing garden, facing the residential neighborhood to the south, and a larger occupiable rooftop to the north. Extending the green space on this level carries the masterplan’s overall focus on green civic spaces. To alleviate the scale of the large building, the tower takes on a sculpted curvilinear gesture, narrowing the south and north faces.
The façade adds a functional rhythm that enhances the building form and its performance. The base treatment is quieter and repetitive, mimicking the proportions of the surrounding townhouses and triple deckers. In contrast, the tower façade is dynamic and attractive from near and from far. Composed of four panels following a segmented curve, the animated envelope responds to the movement of sun while keeping a sensitivity to the surrounding community on the south. The south face provides more shade from the sun and offers a sense of privacy to the neighboring residents; the north face offers more transparency and open views to the future development. The explored material textures and colors – glass and metal panels – create a dialogue with the neighboring tower, while preserving a unique design on site.
The proposed 99 South Street is perceived as a sister building to the almost completed 101 South Street lab and office tower. The ground floor continues the covered arcade language to the south with a clear building entrance at the projected southeast corner. The approach enhances Boynton Yard’s masterplan with envisioned continuous pedestrian flows and active street life. The design activates the north and east with retail and community program while preserving the service alley to the west. The stories above maximize the square footage by providing a central compact core with open, flexible and adaptable floor plans; corners offer unique collaboration spaces for gathering to future tenants.