Working out of an office in Boston's financial district — inaccessible to the public and incapable of holding large public functions — the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) wanted a change of scene. The AIA chapter found the right match in a 16,000-square-foot space on two floors of the recently completed Atlantic Wharf complex in South Boston's Four Point Channel, a neighborhood of artists, designers, and cultural institutions. The LEED Gold highrise mixed-use building, designed by Childs Bertman Tseckares, incorporates a new tower and the historic facades of three low-rise Classic Revival-style brick buildings. The new headquarters, known as BSA Space, is located in the 1897 Graphic Arts Building, designed by Boston firms Rand and Taylor, and Kendall and Stevens.
Höweler + Yoon Architecture (a 2007 Architectural Record Design Vanguard) won an open, blind competition among BSA members to design BSA Space, with an interior retrofit concept centered around a bright green steel staircase that lends visual punch to the ground floor and draws visitors up to the second-floor galleries. 'We felt the idea had to be this super-clean, bright thing that comes down and scoops you up,' says Eric Höweler, who is a partner in the firm with Meejin Yoon. According to BSA president Laura A. Wernick, as part of their lease the BSA is required to use the space for community and public events; as a result, the nonprofit has taken on the role of organizing exhibitions and staffing an information desk in the 1,500-square-foot street-level gallery, which will serve the Four Point Channel area.