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Filene's Department Store Adaptive Reuse

Handel Architects

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426 Washington Street



Millennium Partners


  • Handel Architects
  • Sasaki


  • Interior Designer: Sasaki
  • Structural Engineer: McNamara & Salvia
  • Mechanical Engineer: WSP Flack & Kurtz
  • General Contractor: Suffolk Construction
  • Building Enclosure/Artwork: Building Conservation Association

Project Status


Year Completed



371,650 sq. feet



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Project Description

Chicago architect Daniel Burnham’s last building, and only building in Boston, was completed in 1912 as a flagship store for Filene’s Department Store. Cutting edge for its time, the building is an important example of department store architecture in America.
Ensuing modifications to the exterior tried to keep up with contemporary tastes but disfigured the all-important storefronts. In 1986 the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2012, a team was commissioned to replicate the original details, stabilize the structure, convert the upper floors to office space, bring the building to contemporary code standards, and design an entirely new façade for the building’s north side.
Everything at the ground level – from ironwork marquees to stone clad piers- is new, and required extensive research to interpret Burnham’s original 1912 design. Old photographs and drawings were studied, and compared to the original construction. New MBTA entrances were integrated with the building design, and a new office lobby provides a modern interpretation of the same heavy terra cotta system that was used on new areas of the exterior wall.
Additionally, all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were new and the entire building structure was extensively reinforced or rebuilt resulting in a completely reinterpreted and rejuvenated Burnham design.
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