Re-envision and revitalization of the former Boston Herald newspaper site
Elkus Manfredi Architects created a vibrant seven-building residential block on the former site of Boston Herald newspaper, turning an urban industrial block into a dynamic and desirable upscale residential environment, while honoring the history and relevance of the site’s roots.
Gradually completing each segment of the building, apartments on 2015, Sepia and Siena on 2018, hotel on 2018, Ink Block's 7th and final building 7INK broke ground in 2019.
Ink Block is a residential/retail hub located at the juncture of Boston’s South End and South Boston neighborhoods that includes 315 apartments in three distinct buildings (1 Ink, 2 Ink, 3 Ink); 180 co-living units in 7INK; 153 condominium units in two buildings (Sepia and Siena); and a 205-key AC Hotel by Marriott.
The retail anchor of the Ink Block development is a 50,000-sf flagship Whole Foods Market, which features outdoor sidewalk café seating on Harrison Avenue, a wine shop, fried seafood shack and a juice bar. An additional 35,000 square feet of retail includes a variety of restaurants and high end fitness providers. Providing new housing units plus streetfront retail, Ink Block reinvigorates its surroundings with dynamic 24/7 activity that links the two formerly disconnected neighborhoods of industrial South Boston and the residential South End. With its introduction of new and innovative residential options, a hotel, and a ground plane fully activated by a mix of carefully curated retailers including high-end fitness uses and restaurants ranging from fast-casual to neighborhood pub to white tablecloth, Ink Block reflects the vibe, context, and culture of the South End neighborhood while honoring the history of the site.
The 6.92 acre site is the former home of the Boston Herald newspaper from 1958 until 2012. Prior to the 1950s, it was known locally as “the New York Streets,” a six-block area bordered by Washington, Albany, Herald, and Dover (now East Berkeley) Streets. The New York Streets housed a multi-ethnic working-class population from the mid-1800s until the mid-1950s, when light industrial and commercial uses replaced the diverse residential neighborhood in Boston’s first urban renewal project. The project’s owner and developer, National Development, purchased the Boston Herald property in 2006 and the newspaper continued to operate in the building while the project was planned and permitted. Ink Block returns the area to the lively, dynamic mixed-use community it was over a century ago.
“We designed a community of unique buildings – places that offer people a diverse variety of personalities to choose from apartment units and condominiums, ranging from the socially extroverted feel of a SoHo gallery/loft to a quieter, more club-like atmosphere,” says Elizabeth Lowrey, a principal at Elkus Manfredi Architects. “We blended the lines between design vernaculars, bringing in elements from hospitality to residential to even retail design, while always referencing the rich history of the site as the home of a legendary local newspaper and before that, a dynamic urban residential neighborhood of immigrant families. People who live at Ink Block today feel that sense of place in the roots of the neighborhood.
“Because of the mix of uses programmed for Ink Block, we also got to design residential, hospitality, and retail experiences,” Lowrey adds. “Our ability to understand how all those different parts work together was important in knitting together South Boston and the South End. We’ve created a magnet that expands, overlaps, and transforms both areas.”
Sustainable Elements and Strategies
From the program mix to the community-building values to the materials and systems used, Ink Block was conceived to embody the idea of sustainable neighborhood development. The site has been transformed from its previous industrial use to clusters of residential buildings that are energy-efficient, water-conserving, and sensitive to the environment and surroundings. Sustainability strategies include:
- Site selection
- Stormwater design to recharge more than 70% of stormwater on-site
- Heat island effect – roof (light-colored roofing selected for low reflectivity)
- Heat island effect- non-roof: more than 50% underground parking
- Water-efficient landscaping
- Water use reduction via low-flow fixtures
- Optimized energy performance
- More than 75% of construction waste diverted from disposal
- Construction materials selected for their recycled content
- Regionally sourced construction materials
- Bike racks for 15% of residents
- Development density and community connectivity are exceptional for walkable living (92 point score – highest in area)
- Exemplary public transportation for access to MBTA Red/Silver Lines, South Station/Amtrak and buses
- On-site Hubway bike sharing station
- Brownfield development and hazardous material remediation
Green materials used include: recycled structural steel, gypsum board, metal studs, and reinforcing; regionally sourced concrete, pre-cast, gypsum board, metals studs, and reinforcing; and low-VOC paints, adhesives, sealants, flooring, and composite wood products.
Siena’s exterior architecture is inspired by Italy’s famous Duomo di Siena – the cathedral of Siena – which is marked by alternating horizontal white and green-black marble stripes. Among Siena’s total of 76 condominium units on eight floors are three penthouse units and five ground-floor maisonette units, an element not commonly found in Boston. Each maisonette features its own private street-level patio. The maisonettes’ interiors are loft-style with high ceilings and an interior entrance for each unit.
Siena’s units range from studios to three bedrooms, and most feature a balcony or terrace. The roof level includes a skylounge and roof terrace offering both indoor and outdoor appeal. The basement level includes a 15,000-square-foot parking garage.
- The interior design concept for Siena plays off of the angular stripes of the exterior inspired by the Duomo and calls to mind a tailored men’s pinstriped suit, with pops of color that mimic a jacket’s interior lining.
- When compared to neighboring Sepia’s warm, hotel-like atmosphere, Siena conveys a more masculine, bold interior with a cooler color palette in refined black and white tones.
- Units are designed in a neutral palette, while the common spaces are punctuated with unexpected color. The pinstripe theme is carried throughout the building in the corridor carpets and wall fabrics.
- Common areas include a fitness center, library lounge, minibar, communal dining table, catering kitchen, lounge with fireplace, bike room, and skylounge.
- The skylounge includes an indoor area with a fireplace and a bar with a pass-through window to the exterior roof terrace, which in the warmer months offers additional seating, a firepit, and a grill station. A glass garage door can be opened to connect the indoor and outdoor environments.
Project Details and Credits
300 Harrison Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts
Architecture, Master Planning, Interior Architecture
|Elkus Manfredi Architects|
MEP/FP, LEED, Security, and Tel/Data
|AHA Consulting Engineers|
|Copley Wolff Design Group|
HDLC Lighting Design (1-3 Ink)
KGM Architectural Lighting (Sepia)
John Van Stone Fogg
Hughes Associates, Inc.
Simpson Gumpertz & Heger