When construction was completed in 1891, the SoWa Power Station (SoWa stands for South of Washington Street) was the largest power generation plant in the world. The plant was an ambitious engineering and architectural feat, built to be both functional and beautiful. The massive machinery within powered the first unified urban transportation system in the country which evolved over several decades into the Boston Elevated Railway and eventually the modern-day MBTA. For the past twenty years, however, the Power Station has been underutilized, serving as parking for area businesses even as the SoWa neighborhood was reinvigorated around it.
Today, the Power Station has been restored to celebrate its architecture and charm. It is used to host a wide range of public events like trade shows, fundraisers, and art installations. The interior 25,000 square foot, 60-foot-high open event space is completely renovated with exposed aggregate floor, new electrical and ventilation systems, refurbished and reclaimed woods, and sandblasted and painted steel trusses. Added to the ground floor are a full-service catering kitchen and new restrooms to support events of 1,500 guests. A new 4,000 square foot event mezzanine with full-service bar overlooks the large event space, accessible by a new elevator and stairs. The exterior boasts new thermal steel windows and entry doors replaced the existing single-pane non-thermal openings. Solid wythe masonry walls were repointed, and steel and copper accents were restored. Accent lighting was incorporated around the façade to highlight the buildings historical presence in the neighborhood. The design team worked closely with the Boston Landmarks Commission and the BPDA to highlight and preserve significant historic materials, both on the interior and exterior.
For years, this hidden gem stood watch over a neighborhood renaissance. GTI Properties and EMBARC saw its potential and with intention and imagination brought this building back to life, breathing new vibrancy into the SoWa art district. This new event center will inspire visitors for years to come.
“The SoWa Power Station anchors the district, maintaining balance of old and new in an evolving neighborhood,” says Alison Frazee, Executive Director. “This project illustrates that even deteriorated existing buildings still have a useful life if we have the imagination and determination to invest in them.”
Owner/Developer of Project