In late October, among the clusters of tall office towers rising in the South Boston Waterfront’s new Innovation District, a modern single-story pavilion called District Hall opened its doors. The building, situated right in Seaport Square, will serve as a hub for the district’s growing technology industry and the public. Designed by Boston-based Hacin + Associates, this glass and corrugated metal structure was born out of a private-public partnership with the city and Boston Global Investors, the developer behind the planned 23-acre Seaport Square.
Innovation District, the brainchild of Mayor Menino, has been transformed from an industrial strip, made up of parking lots and warehouses, into an emerging neighborhood of entrepreneurs and tech start-ups. “This project is a unique private-public partnership in terms of having the city and the developer work together to create a building that will really anchor and define this new neighborhood, and do so not just for the innovation and tech community, but for all the citizens who will be using the neighborhood,” said David Hacin, principal of Hacin + Associates.
Hacin + Associates was tapped to assist Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates in creating the master plan for Boston Seaport Square. The plan sought to enhance connections between the different sub-neighborhoods, institutions, and landmarks within the area. Soon after, the firm signed on to design the $5.5 million District Hall. The 12,000-square-foot facility, located on the site of former waterfront rail yards, now sits right in the center of the Innovation District, and only steps away from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Fan Pier, the Boston Convention Center, and transit nodes.
The building’s design is a nod to the neighborhood’s industrial and nautical history: One part emulating the low rectangular shape of the train cars, and then an exterior shell, punctuated by angular forms, reminiscent of sailboats and the water. The interior of the building is composed of flexible 250-person assembly space, a lounge, café, and a restaurant called Gather. In addition, a series of “pod” spaces offer companies and organizations a place to host pop-up retail shops, meetings, exhibitions, and classes.
“The building is specifically designed for connection and interaction,” said Hacin.
The landscaping, designed by Reed Hilderbrand, features plantings, a grove of native gray birch, and a shrub thicket. Next, the landscape firm will design a park to be called the Seaport Green adjacent to District Hall, which will provide a respite and gathering place for the tech community. A new park pavilion, by Hacin + Associates, is also in the works for the site.