338 Congress is a residential project consisting of approximately nine units with ground floor retail use located at the intersection of Congress and Farnsworth Streets. The Project will help further the transformation of the Fort Point Channel district into a vibrant neighborhood characterized by architecturally significant structures and mixed-use buildings that blend residential, retail, restaurant, hotel, office, and arts-related uses.
Located in the heart of the Fort Point Channel neighborhood and the Fort Point Channel Landmark District, 338 Congress is contextual, respectful, and sensitive to the historic urban fabric, yet not imitative of the area buildings’ earlier styles and methods of construction. The principal design goal is to celebrate to modern transformation of this neighborhood while still respecting the district’s historical integrity. The primary drivers of the Project design are its historic context, corner location, mix of uses, and lot size.
While each building varies in the Fort Point Channel Landmarks District, the collective effect of the late-19th and early-20th century industrial buildings gives the neighborhood its unique character and charm. The historic buildings reflect original manufacturing and warehouse uses through fenestration patterns, material choices, structure, and façade compositions. Along Congress Street, the building facades become more porous and glassy away from Fort Point Channel, reflecting original uses for warehouse closer to the water and progressing to manufacturing uses that required natural daylighting and thus more and larger windows. The Project design becomes part of this historic continuum of expressing interior uses through fenestration, ultimately complementing the timeless quality of its surroundings.
Since the neighborhood’s initial construction, the buildings have undergone continual re-purposing, re-positioning, and renovation to accommodate the changing needs of the community; once-vital warehouse and manufacturing uses have evolved to encompass office, retail, and residential uses. Given the site’s opportunity for new construction amidst a large and well-preserved collection of urban lofts, the Project design is intended as a complement and counterpoint to its historic context, protecting the historic integrity of the district (Figure 5). The Fort Point Channel Landmark District anticipates new construction and directs that a new building should “reflect the period in which it was built and should not necessarily be imitative of an earlier style, period, or method of construction.” 1 The design of the new construction respects the existing historical patterns, proportions, scale, and materiality within the Fort Point Channel Landmark District (Figure 6). As the Project design has progressed, it has translated the enduring qualities of the urban lofts into a special and sophisticated Project. The contemporary architectural language of the Project design is strongly influenced by the industrial design and heritage of the historic district.
The Project is new and distinct from adjacent historic structures, but maintains continuity and celebrates the district’s industrial past in a modern way through loft-like spaces, pedestrian engagement at the ground floor, outward expression of interior uses, and use of materials and color, which in combination contribute to the building’s timeless elegance.
In keeping with the 19th and 20th century industrial buildings along Congress Street, the Project design incorporates ground floor retail space and reflects the building’s uses through window patterns. Given the intended residential use of the building, large windows provide natural lighting to residents and outwardly express the interior uses.
The Project juxtaposes exposed metal against a glassy façade, contrasting an industrial-inspired structure against an airy, modern sensibility. Horizontal metal members serve as reference points to cornice lines, floor lines, and architectural details of nearby buildings, while the use of glass in the Project design instills a sense of lightness and museum-like quality in the Project.
The façade’s rhythm of metal and glass is punctuated by accent panels. The design process evaluated color schemes for the Project, favoring a darker palette for the exposed metal frame to recede against the historic adjacent masonry structures, yet created interest with color variation. The Project accent colors reference rich shades of materials found within the Fort Point Channel Landmark District, creating a modern interpretation of the industrial loft materials and colors.
The Project acknowledges the importance of the corner location within the neighborhood by creating a unique, but not trendy, building that is both elegant from afar and welcoming to pedestrians. On a pedestrian scale the Project enhances the streetscape through ground level retail, wrapping the corner and connecting newer retail establishments along Farnsworth with the activity of Congress Street. At an urban scale, the design highlights the evolution of the neighborhood from its industrial past into a lively mixed-use node of urban activity. Ultimately, the Project’s location follows Smart Growth principles by concentrating development, integrating uses, expanding housing choices, and fostering a sense of place.
Principal in Charge: David Nagahiro // Project Designer: Sae Kim // Project Manager: Andrew Wang