Green Revitalization: Reinvesting Embodied Energy for a Sustainable Future
Written by Jessica Santonastaso, Associate, Gensler
As advances in green technology bring us closer to the promise of a sustainable future, older buildings in our cities are at risk of getting left behind. Leaking facades, outdated mechanical systems and inefficient structural layouts often mean that older buildings become undesirable. Neighborhoods that were once the most prized lose their vitality as today’s tenants flock to new development in areas further afield. What if we could envision a future for our cities where the embodied energy latent in this aging building stock could be leveraged, as if recycled in place, to create a new generation of sustainable, high performance environments?
The revitalization of One Post Office Square in Boston provides an opportunity to deliver this kind of transformation. Adjacent to the Norman B. Leventhal park (a gem of revitalization in its own right that turned an above ground parking structure into a popular urban oasis), the 1980 precast tower was suffering from a functionally and aesthetically outdated envelope and aging mechanical systems. A multi floor vacancy in the building provided the ownership team with an opportunity to step in to execute a new vision for the property.
The ongoing occupancy of the building necessitates a multi-faceted approach to the design and phasing of the tower. Both overclad (new wall installed in front of existing precast) and reclad (new wall installed after the removal of precast panels) strategies are being employed to deliver a new state of the art triple glazed curtainwall to a building where some tenants are remaining in place with minimal disturbance while others are moving from old space to new. The existing ten level parking garage will be demolished, replaced with 6 levels of automated parking- an innovation that allows an equivalent number of cars to be parked in half the space of a traditionally parked garage- with new leasable space above. State of the art MEP systems, including 4 pipe active chilled beams, groundwater recharge and energy recovery systems round out the modernization.
We hope the new One Post Office Square will be the catalyst in bringing about a new vision for the city of Boston and beyond- one where existing infrastructure is reconfigured and added to rather than replaced, where the trace of time and the city’s history can be read in a new, environmentally responsible and forward-thinking built environment.
A comparison of the One Post Office Square Tower before and after its revitilization.