Inserting a bold yet contextual new building in one of the most historic and treasured neighborhoods in Boston is no easy feat–neither is joining it with a historic building, but this talented and experienced team met the challenge with remarkable success.
With its eclectic mix of styles from iconic brownstones to the quaint commercial blocks of Charles Street, the Beacon Hill neighborhood is a treasured part of Boston, and one of the most photographed neighborhoods in the country. Constructing a large new building in this neighborhood is rare and challenging, even with the guidance of the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission. The team who took on the Whitney Hotel, transforming a parking lot and the adjacent 1908 Jeffries House, met the challenge with remarkable success. Built in 1908 adjacent to the then-new Longfellow Bridge, the Jeffries was used by Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary first as housing for nurses and then as a 46-room bed and breakfast run by the hospital until 2016.
The Whitney Hotel project blends old and new, with a refurbished John Jeffries House and a highly contextual but clearly complementary new addition along Charles Street. The new design creates a successful dialogue with the existing historic buildings in the neighborhood around it. The design team successfully invokes the feeling of elegant Beacon Hill styles to meet the high standard of the neighborhood without being overly literal or trite. Red brick was selected to reference the importance of masonry in the surrounding buildings, but creative and elegant brick detailing framing the windows elevates the design in a contemporary fashion. The final product is a four story, 21-room infill addition connected to the original structure by a clear walkway, giving a view of the surrounding courtyard and neighborhood and providing clear separation between old and new. A variety of design references in form, brick detail, and metal grills harken to the neighborhood. The building successfully creates a dialogue with the historic neighborhood around it, adding a sense of modern integration rather than disrupting the surrounding architecture.
“Striking a balance between the extremes of bold contemporary design and blatant historicism is tricky, and particularly challenging in the iconic Beacon Hill Landmark District. The Whitney Hotel is both richly modern and elegantly contextual,” says Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. “The Whitney approaches its historic setting with a reserved confidence and high style, revealing layers of thoughtful detail as the eye lingers. The Whitney demonstrates that new can be thoughtfully placed in a sensitive location, blending old and new in the hands of a skilled project team.”
Owner and Executive General Contractor:
Barlow Architectural Millwork