Student Residence Hall, MassArt | Architect: ADD, Inc., Boston | Courtesy of MassArt

Student Residence Hall, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Location: Boston, Massachusetts | United States
Architect: ADD, Inc., Boston | United States
Construction: Suffolk Construction Co. Inc., Boston | United States
Fabricator: Lymo Construction Co. Inc., New Hampshire | United States
Year of construction: 2012
Material: ALUCOBOND® PLUS - 7 custom colors

“From the college’s point of view, the building needed to express the individuality of MassArt,” said Cameron Roberts, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, principal, Cameron Roberts Advisors of Boston, who serves as a professional advisor to MassArt. “College officials were not initially convinced of the need for a hi-rise; but, once it was clear that a hi-rise was the best solution, the college did not want an anonymous residential tower. … That’s how the colored Alucobond panels came about. The college was a sophisticated client when it came to color, art and expression.”

“MassArt suffered from being hidden along the ‘Avenue of the Arts’ (Boston’s Huntington Avenue),” said B.K. Boley, AIA, LEED AP, design principal and director of sustainable design at ADD, Inc. “The college’s tallest building was a foreboding black glass tower across the street. College administrators wanted MassArt to be recognized with a signature building. Students suggested that the building be viewed as a painting in the skyline – both expressive and exuberant. They wanted to be identified as an art school.”

To recreate the “Tree of Life” image, a total of 174,768 square feet of ALUCOBOND® Plus material in the 4mm thickness was ordered in seven custom colors, which also were differentiated with five gloss levels ranging from 10 to 50. In addition to offering a wide range of stocked colors, ALUCOBOND® is known for its extensive custom color-matching program. Working with PPG Industries, 3A Composites’ custom color specialists provided 54 color matches to create these panels for MassArt.

“We started with dark colors at the bottom that lighten at the top, making the building seem to disappear into the mist,” said Tamara Roy, AIA, LEED AP, senior associate principal, ADD, Inc., who served as design leader on the MassArt Residence Hall project.

The ALUCOBOND® panels “change color from the trunk of the tree into the canopy,” added Boley, who said the panels were oriented vertically and set in a total of five different depths from the building to simulate a tree’s bark-like surface.

The ALUCOBOND® panels were fabricated and installed by Lymo Construction Co., Inc., of Merrimack, N.H., with the Lymo 3000 Rainscreen system, which allowed the ALUCOBOND® panels to be set out from the building in depths ranging from 2 inches to 7 inches. “This building is not flush,” said Dan Lynch, president, Lymo Construction Co. “This design is reminiscent of a tree in New England in the fall when the leaves are starting to change but specks of green remain.”

“Everyone involved with the design and construction of this building is very proud of it,” said Roberts. “They wanted it to be right. … This building can be seen from all over Boston. It’s put MassArt on the skyline, on the map and on everybody’s mind.”

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