James von Klemperer of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates knows the Seaport District inside and out. His firm helped shape the original Seaport Square Master Plan about a decade ago, and is now behind the design of Echelon Seaport on part of that site, along with CBT and Jeffrey Beers International. One of the neighborhood’s newest residential developments, the three-tower project will cover 3.5 acres and create more than 700 apartments and condos when completed over the next two years. Von Klemperer chatted about the project that’s well under way.
What’s one challenge building in the Seaport? Building in the Seaport is building in a completely new neighborhood, but you’re still trying to make a place that feels like home and that has a human scale.
CLEAR VIEWS: Located on Seaport Boulevard, the luxury Echelon Seaport will consist of three buildings rising to about 21 stories at the tallest points, a public courtyard and shops, and house a variety of condos and apartments, up to three-bedrooms.
BUILDING BRIDGES: The catwalk connecting two of Echelon Seaport’s buildings appears like a series of rectangles and forms a virtual archway.
Can you explain the multiple-building, step-like design? This could have been overbearing in scale and mass. … So we split it into three separate buildings, and then each building is sub-articulated into maybe seven different vertical slices of building, as if they were overscaled townhouses. Also, a lot of analysis was made to sculpt the buildings so that the maximum number of windows could face the best views of the water, which is of course one of the best assets of the Seaport.
What went into the facade? It’s a precast concrete that’s given colors to mimic stone. … We thought it was terribly important that these buildings not be large masses of glass, and that they keep with the traditions of Boston, the traditions of brick, stone and other materials that have some depth to them.
Who’s your favorite architect? That’s a very tough question…but let me tell you one name of a favorite architect, just because it pertains to this situation: Louis Sullivan…. He became one of the fathers of the high-rise building. These buildings are about the size of Sullivan’s early skyscrapers. One of the things he’s known for are buildings with detail that you could see a reminiscence of floral patterns or other natural themes, even his buildings were, in some ways, great examples of functionalism and modernism and were tall towers with steel structures.