Massachusetts College of Art and Design are celebrating their brand new $52 million residence hall that now stands as a new architectural landmark in Boston's skyline.
The new student residence hall, designed by architecture firm ADD Inc., doubles the college's housing capacity and provide an innovative environment where 493 students can live, study and play at affordable state college rental rates.
Designers at ADD drew on the best ideas from junior and senior staff members to harmonize the goals and aspirations of college professors, administrators, students, trustees, alumni and the building's owner, the Mass. State College Building Authority (MSCBA). The firm hosted focus groups and design charrettes and developed ful-scale mockup units for students to explore and critique.
B.K. Boley, lead architect of ADD, said "MassArt wanted the building to stand out in the Boston skyline and meaningfully identify them as an art college. It was the students' idea that the building look like a painting and that it be just as colorful and vibrant as they are." The firm suggested Gustav Klimt's "Tree of Life" painting which helps convey the school's rebirth and continuation. In September, the incoming student residents voted to nickname the building "The Tree House."
The 21-story, 145,000 square foot building features a ground floor cafe and living room, a second floor health center, and a third-floor communal "Pajama Floor" with kitchen, game room, laundry facilities and fitness center. The rest of the 17 floors are made up of 136 suites configured in single, double and three-bedroom layouts.
Drawing from Klimt's famous 1909 painting as a metaphor for the building, the facade features 5500 boldly colored metal panels in five custom colors arranged at five different widths and depths. The colors range from dark brown at the base to mirror tree bark, and grow progressively lighter, making the building appear taller. Green window panels punctuate the facade to represent the tree's leaves. The building has transformed MassArt's image along 621 Huntington Avenue, also called the Avenue of the Arts, where it stands.
MassArt's architecture and interior design students in Professor Paul Hajan's studio helped shape the design and function of the ground floor cafe. Students wanted it to serve primarily as a night spot for those too young to go to clubs. The cafe is open to the public. They also suggested a central communal table that glows like a fire in the cold winter evenings, to help draw students in and create opportunities for conversations between Wentworth, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and MassArt students, as the three institutions share dining and health center facilities. Students from MassArt's graphic design studio named the cafe "Spoon" and developed the logo. A mirrored art piece commissioned from Boston artist Tim Murdoch covers the walls and jiggles as students set off the motor sensors in the bench seating.
The residence hall's design and engineering decisions were made with solar orientation in mind. Windows on the tower's north sides provide light favorable to artists' work and fewer windows on the south side hep reduce heat. The building received a Silver LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and its energy usage is 22 percent more efficient than code mandates. Other green features include Low-E windows with solar tint that reduce heat gain, double insulated metal panels and low-flow plumbing fixtures that reduce the amount of potable usage by 33 percent. More than 50 percent of the material used in the residential hall has recycled content 20 percent from local sources, and 70percent of the wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.