HNTB/ Rafael Viñoly Architects
Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 5/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
New England's coastline and foliage inspired the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center's interiors, thanks to a collaboration between HNTB and Rafael Viñoly Architects. A terrazzo floor in the main lobby shows seven shades of blue-green as an homage to the Atlantic Ocean. And in the 40,000-square-foot ballroom, a makore veneer clads the walls. A purple-and-cranberry carpet represents sunsets. As these are only portions of the 1.7-million-square-foot facility—including 82 meeting rooms, a food court, exhibit hall, and commercial kitchen and bakery—principal Rafael Viñoly describes the rest.
How did you arrive at this concept?
RV: Convention center design in the United States has been characterized by a general lack of consideration for the building's regional context. We had an opportunity to create a building that would respond to its surroundings and, in doing so, mitigate the exhibit hall's tremendous volume.
How did you come up with the makore feature wall in the grand ballroom?
RV: We studied the idea of staggering the panels in a foam model and discovered it would have a rich effect. The shadows and variety of sheens resulting from their angles made for animated and sculptural texture.
Was any part of this plan particularly difficult?
RV: Maintaining the visual continuity of soaring ceiling height, while allowing for the physical and acoustical separation where the program called for space to be subdivisible into three areas.
What was the solution?
RV: We used two 20-foot-wide, glass-enclosed pedestrian bridges to connect lobbies on either side of the hall. Space beneath these bridges is closed off by retractable steel-clad partitions, which can be stowed at either end.
What distinguishes this from other convention centers?
RV: Natural light is fairly unique among these types of buildings. We accomplished this with a continuous clerestory. What is also unique is having a human scale.