office da and burt hill, boston

To hear Office dA's Nader Tehrani tell it, it's a small miracle that the Macallen condo building in Boston's South End became a reality. “It was built under the most difficult circumstances,” says Tehrani, whose firm acted as design architect on the project. “Everyone was against the building,” and consequently, it needed approval from the mayor's office down to neighborhood groups—and many others in between.

Office dA and firm of record Burt Hill assuaged fears with a building that's sensitive to its site and its context. With a highway and Boston's skyline to the west, the 144-unit building soars to its maximum allowable height limit, but it gradually descends in scale to meet the quiet residential street on the east side. Bronze and aluminum panels on the north side reference the neighborhood's industrial heritage, while house-friendly brick fronts the east elevation.

Seeking LEED Gold certification, the design team included strong sustainable components, such as a sloped green roof, recycled-content insulation, low-VOC products, and rapidly renewable materials. In addition to a variety of unit types, including live/work options, the building has underground parking for 274 cars, a hybrid community car, ground-floor retail, and other amenities that support urban living.

The judges overwhelmingly approved, with one calling the project “an unbelievable achievement for this building type.”

principals in charge: Monica Ponce de Leon and Nader Tehrani, Office dA, and Steven J. Brittan and Harry T. Gordon, FAIA, Burt Hill
project architect: Dan Gallagher, Office dA
project managers: Lisa Huang, Office dA, and Ed Bourget, AIA, Burt Hill
project teams: Ghazal Abassy, Remon Alberts, Hansy Luz Better, Scott Ewart, Katja Gischas, Anna Goodman, David Jeffries, Krists Karklins, Ethan Kushner, Harry Lowd, Christine Mueller, Julian Palacio, Penn Ruderman, and Ahmad Reza Schricker, Office da; and Douglas Ellsworth, Robert Graf, PE, Bruce Kvarta, PE, Ginelle Lang, AIA, Gerry Lebrato, Millescent Lizares, Zander Shaw, Greg Torchia, Thomas Urtz, and Edward Wunderley, PE, Burt Hill
developer: Timothy Pappas, Pappas Enterprises, Boston
general contractor: Jason Burrell, LEED AP, Bovis Lend Lease, Boston
landscape architect: Michael Blier, Landworks Studio, Boston
structural engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Waltham, Mass.
design mep engineer: Commercial Construction Consulting, Boston
civil engineer: BSC Group, Boston
project size: 640 square feet to 5,500 square feet per unit
site size: 1.49 acres
construction cost: $300 per square foot
sales price: $384,000 to $3.3 million per unit
units in project: 144; photography: John Horner

product specs
aluminum mullions:Amstel Manufacturing; bathroom and kitchen plumbing fittings:Dornbracht Americas ; bathroom plumbing fixtures:American Standard, Caroma USA, Porcher; bathroom and kitchen cabinets, trimwork:C.W. Keller & Associates; brick/masonry products:Endicott Clay Products Co.; dishwasher, oven, range:Bosch Home Appliances; entry doors, windows:The Vistawall Group; exterior siding:Alcoa Architectural Products (USA); flooring (bamboo):BambooAdvantage; flooring (ceramic tile):Ceramica SantAgostino; flooring (vinyl):Tarkett Residential; flooring (wood):Shaw Industries; garage doors:Overhead Door Corp.; garbage disposer:In-Sink-Erator; hardware:Blum, Modric, Schlage Lock Co.; hvac equipment:ClimateMaster; interior doors:CURRIES; kitchen plumbing fixtures:Franke Kindred Canada; lighting fixtures: Cooper Lighting (Halo), Day-O-Lite Fluorescent Fixtures, ITRE USA , Translite Sonoma ; paints/stains:PPG Industries; patio doors:Arcadia; refrigerator:Jenn-Air; roofing:American Hydrotech; security system:SimplexGrinnell; sheathing:Georgia-Pacific Building Products; skylights/roof windows:OpenAire