06 01 2014 Architect Francine Houben envisions building as a symbol

Dutch architect’s design brings light to Dudley Square

06.01.2015 - Publications

Architect Francine Houben envisions building as a symbol

Far away from Roxbury, in the land of tulips and windmills, is a small replica of the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Dudley Square.

It is an architectural scale model, and it is sitting in the board room of architect Francine Houben’s firm Mecanoo. Houben — considered one of the world’s most influential architects — designed the $125 million Roxbury building, in collaboration with Watertown-based Sasaki Associates.

It opens this month and will be the new headquarters for Boston’s public schools.
Municipal buildings are notoriously unpleasant and user-unfriendly — mazes of confusing corridors, lookalike cubicles, dim light, and salvaged furniture. But this one is different.

The building is meant to be a symbol, the centerpiece of a revitalized, no- longer-neglected Dudley Square that will “unlock its potential,” in the words of the late Thomas M. Menino, who as mayor championed the project.

It incorporates the facades of three buildings more than a century old, including the iconic Ferdinand furniture building, which has been vacant for 40 years. It is infused with light, thanks to a multitude of windows, glass walls, and open work stations.

There are “alternative” desk spaces for workers who want a change of scenery, and a roof garden with a panoramic view of Boston’s skyline. And the furnishings for the 500-plus employees who will work there are a modernist snob’s dream — ergonomic Herman Miller chairs, sleek Knoll work stations, fancy European-style kitchens with blue refrigerators, presumably to keep bag lunches cold.

Full article via The Boston Globe

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