125 Lincoln Street, Boston
At the edge of the financial district in Boston—Chinatown is just across the street—there is a parking garage that is unique for Boston. A rectangle with one of its long sides gently curved, it was shaped in order to accommodate the expressway entrance at it’s base. The resulting building has a dynamic quality. It looks more like it might have been built in Milan, circa 1960, rather than in Boston. Above the 4 story garage is one floor of office space, 25,000 square feet, long abandoned until edu.com, a start-up, decided to occupy it.
With a CEO as young as the budget was limited, this project relied on existing conditions for it’s character. An elegant steel structure with a continuous ribbon window along the perimeter gave the space a lightness that allowed an open plan to work. Prevailing “dot com” design idiosyncrasies informed the general sensibility. Design idioms that might now seem quaint, or at least superfluous to the smooth functioning of an office were, in fact, indispensable. One of the hurdles that a start-up company faced was providing a workplace cool enough to attract the brightest minds—this was one of those rare moments when design actually mattered to employees—and comfortable enough to keep them there 24/7. So it was in the late 1990’s that cool materials, over-stuffed sofas, large communal dining spaces, foosball tables and, yes, putt-putt became de rigueur, especially for a company whose customers were college students, and whose key employees might have put college on hold for the lure of the IPO.