KPF unveils Boston harbor tower design

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and the Chiofaro Company have unveiled the Boston Harbor Tower, the Pinnacle at Central Wharf. Image courtesy KPF
Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and the Chiofaro Company have unveiled the Boston Harbor Tower, the Pinnacle at Central Wharf.
Image courtesy KPF

Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and the Chiofaro Company are proposing a high-performance, resilient, mixed-use tower on the Boston Harbor waterfront called the Pinnacle at Central Wharf.

The tower will replace a seven-story parking garage that occupies the entirety of its site. The Pinnacle will give half of the previously inaccessible area to public open space. The building also incorporates innovative design strategies pertaining to climate resiliency, energy, emissions, water, and materials to minimize environmental impact, protect infrastructure, and improve the health and wellbeing of the community.

The Pinnacle’s orientation on the site will enable a new pedestrian corridor, designed to integrate with the New England Aquarium’s proposed ‘Blueway’ vision, to connect the waterfront to 2601 m2 (28,000 sf) of onsite active public space, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and downtown Boston. The tower’s lower-level public amenities, including extensive retail, will line a dynamic plaza, with year-round programming.

Additionally, the Pinnacle will be the first downtown waterfront project to implement Boston’s new climate-conscious development mandates. The project site, as well as the Harborwalk adjacent to the site, will be elevated 1 m (4 ft) above its present grade and seamlessly connect with neighboring sites as they make similar adjustments in the future. These changes will provide a reimagined waterfront for Bostonians that will focus on reducing inland flood risk, protecting billions of dollars in property and infrastructure, and enhancing walks along the harbor.

Based on the current target credits, a the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating is anticipated for the project, which will be achieved through a holistic approach to sustainability with close collaboration between KPF, the Chiofaro Company, and consulting teams. Considered efficiency measures include a high-performance envelope, high-efficiency mechanical and ventilation systems, and low-flow and low-consumption plumbing fixtures. The project may also include cross-laminated timber (CLT) decking, solar photovoltaics (PV), combined heat and power energy generation, and rain and grey water reuse systems. To assist with the design process, KPF’s environmental performance team (KPFep) developed early design energy models to analyze energy conservation scenarios, as well as shadow, glare, pedestrian wind comfort, and internal daylighting.

The tower’s curvilinear form will reduce shadow impacts and ease pedestrian flow around the building’s base, creating smooth circulation paths and opening view corridors to the water. This massing will further enhance pedestrian comfort by mitigating potential turbulent wind from the water. As the tower rises, setbacks provide outdoor terraces for occupants and visitors, with views to Boston Harbor and downtown.

The façade’s textured, scaled materiality is expressed in strong vertical elements, which fold at the tower’s peak to provide solar shading and natural ventilation in the residential portion. The glass curtain wall is also treated with a non-reflective coating to minimize glare. Grand gestures signal entry points in the podium, where vertical piers peel apart to reveal a special façade expression, and serve as markers, with the tallest and largest opening at the office lobby facing the Greenway.

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