CityPoint Development is located eleven miles from Boston, a short distance from both Route 2 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, with prominent frontage on Route 128. The Boston Properties site stretches almost one mile along Route 128 in Waltham.
The property currently includes multi-tenant office buildings that feature amenities such as fitness center, conference center, retail properties and restaurants.
Construction is in the final stages for 20 CityPoint, a new six-story class A office building. The project will include a total of 211,000 square feet of office space, 110,000 of which has already been leased to anchor tenant Simpson, Gumpertz, and Heger. The engineering firm plans to move into the space in July 2019. A structured parking component was included as an essential part of this suburban architecture and development.
Similarities between the existing 10 CityPoint building and 20 City Point include striking white precast spandrels with charcoal bands, deep reveals and tinted glass.
“Precast concrete was selected for the façade to be crisp, bright and contemporary”, says Steven G. Dube, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Associate, Elkus Manfredi Architects. The contrast between light and dark colors mimics the ratio of window to precast panels. The proportion of the two materials helps break up the mass walls. “We used the charcoal color at window heads and a horizontal band that separates the ground floor from the upper office floors was used strategically. It was horizontal datum that ran around each of the floors”, recalls Dube.
Fabrication of the 171 precast units began in mid-June and was completed by September. Learning from the previous sister building at 10 CityPoint, Strescon was able to cast the multi-colored panels efficiently. The precast was installed in the office building over three weeks in September 2018.
Day and Light
Of paramount concern was striking a balance between the desire for views and daylit interior spaces with meeting Massachusetts energy code requirements and high cost of windows. Elkus Manfredi did studies to optimize the glazing. “We put large glazing areas where there is the greatest potential for views or where it is most helpful for daylighting. But not too much glass as it would have a detrimental effect on energy use and because precast concrete was less expensive. So there was deliberate study to achieve the right amount of glazing and solid walls”, explains Dube.
Coordination among the steel, precast and windows was critical for successful project. The precast panels attached to steel frame requiring coordination via building model. Information exchange between Commodore Builders, Strescon Limited, Ipswich Bay Glass and Beauce Atlas Steel began in early 2018. Models from the three large subcontractors were shared and updated on a regular basis to ensure precise fit-up and minimize costly site issues.
The engineering anchor tenant had specific requirements for their space -- the materials testing lab on the first floor and other proprietary elements affected the interior fit out. It did not affect the structure in any significant way. For their lab and offices they have uninterrupted floor to ceiling glass and lots of daylighting in what was originally retail space.
As part of the project, a connector bridge was built from the second floor of 20 CityPoint to 10 CityPoint next door which was completed in 2016. This pedestrian overpass will allow access to the amenities offered in the 10 CityPoint building like the cafeteria, gym and parking structure.
Providing a design that is both highly functional and aesthetically integrated with its surroundings was the goal for the garage at 20 CityPoint. The precast concrete parking structure was completed in May 2018 and the office building is preparing for the first tenant to move in this summer. “It was a textbook install and everyone is happy with the results”, says Jim Loud, Project Executive, Commodore Builders.
The garage is a big building, total of 1500 spaces for both phases, so Elkus Manfredi wanted to minimize the bulk of the structure. The spandrel panels feature horizontal ribs to reinforce that pattern around the perimeter. “We spent some time finessing the amount of reveals and the charcoal bands”, says Dube.
He goes on to explain: when we designed the garage there was a lot of thought consideration given to the profile of the garage. We wanted clean and crisp architecture with visual interest and strong horizontal lines that run around the perimeter of the building. The top portion of the spandrels have a backward cant on a slight angle to minimize bulk of the building, but without added pieces.
Site and Schedule
Loud recalls that the schedule went very well. Precast had been used by the owner before and selected again for the entire development. The major constraint was site logistics and access. The large crane required to set the precast double tees and other components would not have access if 20 CityPoint office had been constructed first. “The precast garage had to go first because it is essentially an addition to the garage erected under 10 CityPoint contract”, explains Loud.
Commodore Builders had to build the garage and remove the crane before they could start foundations for 20 CityPoint office building. So the schedule was paramount for Blakeslee Prestress to fabricate and erect the garage as quickly as possible. The original parking structure was also fabricated by Blakeslee and was separated by an expansion joint.
Loud recalls that the crane had to operate from inside the footprint of the garage and work its way out. “Access was available on only two sides for installation so we relied on the expertise of Blakeslee”, he says. Getting trucks in and out of the site was a challenge so a staging area was set up nearby. Since installation was during the winter months, a few days of materials were stored in case road conditions would prevent transportation.
“While it would have been easier to erect the entire garage in the first phase, Boston Properties does not build on spec. Once tenants were secured for 20 CityPoint then the supporting garage was moved forward”, explains Loud.
The project was challenging because of the amount of site work and the grade change from the south end to the street side of the site. “The fact that the entire garage had to be erected before the phase II office building could be started had a big impact on schedule. We had to advance the design drawings for the garage ahead of office building so that things could move forward”, says Dube.
The garage was designed to support a photovoltaic array on the top level. The significant amount of solar panels on the roof will contribute to the energy generation and to usage credits for the CityPoint development. This feature also contributes to the pursuit of LEED platinum certification.
“Boston Properties is a sophisticated client and well aware of the benefits of longevity and low maintenance of precast”, says Loud. High performance and durability were important to the owners and that is why they added specs for epoxy coated rebar and galvanized connections. “Boston Properties are long term owners and don’t roll properties so they don’t want to worry about long term maintenance” adds Dube.
Waltham’s proximity to Boston and Cambridge and its convenient location off I-95 and the Mass Pike attracts developers building to suit. CityPoint Development offers modern amenities which are key in landing tenants and recruiting talent. The contemporary layout creates a dynamic workplace culture for companies. The use of precast concrete fosters a durable, low maintenance façade of the office building and the entire supporting parking structure.