Greening our Buildings: one rejuvenated structure at a time


Construction progress at 40 Aspinwall Avenue – source: Brookline Teen Center Facebook site

On this Earth Day week, we are heartened to see the construction progress at the Brookline Teen Center project site in Brookline Village.  Designed by Studio MLA with Graham/Mues Inc. and being built by Kaplan Construction, the dramatic transformation of this 12,000 SF building – a former autobody shop located at 40 Aspinwall Avenue – is expected to be completed at the end of this summer.  We are ardent supporters of the idea that the “greenest” buildings are the ones already standing.  Existing buildings, like the structure being repurposed by the Brookline Teen Center, have the potential of enjoying great second acts.


View of existing building, 450 Broadway

In 2012, XChange Architects was retained by an early education client to prepare a feasibility analysis for the re-use of a 1950s-era industrial flex space building for an indoor children’s play gym.  The 14,000 SF facility, located in the Greater Boston area is an aggregation of 3 older structures built over the years.  Our redevelopment proposal is characterized by a dramatic, color-intensive exterior makeover, the raising of the rear building roof (to accommodate larger inflatables),  and new clerestory glazing around the largest warehouse volume to maximize ventilation and passive daylighting.


Perspective view of renovated building along Broadway


Study Model


 Proposed south elevation – 450 Broadway

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Take Back the Streets: Time to Renew Your Outdoor Seating Permits

OneFundFlag-smIn acknowledgement of the recent events in Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown, our thoughts go out to the affected and we owe a debt of gratitude to our region’s resilient citizenry, first-responders and law enforcement officials. Please consider making a contribution to the One Fund to aid those affected by the events of April 15, 2013 in Boston

The lock-down in the Greater Boston area was challenging, but proved to be a necessary inconvenience. Ironically, we were scheduled to meet with our client today, Yoki Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, in Central Square in the City of Cambridge, to update a sidewalk seating concept requiring approval by the Department of Public Works for the spring-summer outdoor seating season.

For our hospitality clients, please check with your local building and planning officials to confirm permitting requirements for outdoor restaurant seating.  The criteria may include service restrictions (especially with alcohol being served), seating requirements (typically limited by available restroom fixtures), structural and dimensional requirements for outdoor dividers, exterior signage, lighting, plantings and applicable insurance coverage.

Let’s take back our streets in the Greater Boston Area.


An earlier outdoor seating concept for 485 Massachusetts Avenue

About the project – XChange Architects was invited by Yoki’s management team to develop a cost-effective design solution for their second restaurant that could 1) absorb the extant interior and building systems of a previous restaurant and 2) help develop a new visual and graphic identity that could be standardized and deployed in future roll-outs. The 3,000 SF interior renovation was completed in August 2012.


View of main sake bar. Copyright Roberto Farren Photography, 2012

Yoki-Sushi bar-FINAL

Perspective view – Sushi Bar


Photography – Roberto Farren Photography

Electrical engineer – BLW Engineers, Inc.

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Out to Bid: South Natick Painting Studio Addition

5JUS framing axon

Axonometric view of hybrid wood and steel structural frame – Painting Studio Addition, S. Natick

We’re delighted to complete our bid package for a painting studio addition to a single family residence in South Natick, Massachusetts.  Generous use of operable windows and vented skylights will provide for a naturally illuminated north-facing and well-ventilated studio space for an artist to work on her oil paintings.

We look forward to starting the bidding process this week to identify a General Contractor to work with our team and client this spring.


Structural Engineer:  Phelan Engineering

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Tax time reminder for small businesses – universal access pays!

DVF rear cash wrap - LORES

View of rear cashwrap area (left) and fitting room lobby (right) – DvF Newbury Store. Photo copyright Roberto Farren Photography, 2011

As we approach the April tax deadline, we’re often reminded that small businesses commonly forget to claim tax credits for their commercial construction fit-outs that include Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)-related improvements.  Tax year construction expenditures to remove barriers to universal access – including retrofits or new construction to provide accessible lifts, bathrooms, signage, and entry doorways, amongst others – are eligible for a tax credit covering over 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year up to $10,250 (maximum credit of $5000).  For the latest information on this tax credit, please refer to the ADA website and the IRS link on this credit for barrier removal

DVF details - fitting roomXChange Architects was invited to collaborate with Diane von Furstenberg studio in 2010 on the design and construction of the first DvF store in New England at 73 Newbury Street in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay.  Although an extensive corporate design standard was available, there were significant challenges in applying them to a turn-of-the-century brownstone.  Custom-designed, ADA-compliant fitting rooms and a slide-out sales counter features for the store addressed State MAAB and Federal ADAAG requirements with universal access design concepts that are both operationally-efficient and synergistic with the design-oriented DvF customer service approach.  This collaboration resulted in the skillful merging of a contemporary design aesthetic with a New England flair.


Photography:  Roberto Farren Photography

Design Lead:  David Del Villar, Vice President of Design and Construction – DvF Studio, LP

General Contractor:  Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc.

M/E/P & FP:  R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, LLP

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.