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Nov. 25, 2013

District Hall Launches in Boston’s Innovation District

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Last month the first innovation building officially opened in the heart of Boston’s thriving Innovation District, a newly created “tech neighborhood” in the South Boston waterfront that serves as business incubator, co-working and conference space for startups in the Greater Boston area and public events place.

The $7 million District Hall building was created by a unique public-private partnership between the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), the Cambridge Innovation Center and Boston Global Investors (BGI) which financed the project.

District Hall – Boston Innovation District

Located at 75 Northern Avenue on the site of the former waterfront rail yards, the single-story District Hall was designed by Hacin + Associates in collaboration with landscape architect Reed Hilderbrand as a dynamic innovation hub whose architectural details are inspired by the area’s industrial past. The 12,000-square-foot facility is the first standalone city-sponsored innovation center in the country; it’s envisioned as a meeting point for emerging companies, where executives can exchange ideas (using the writable IdeaPaint walls incorporated everywhere in the building) and host business and social events. The steel and concrete District Hall includes Gather—a restaurant run by the Briar Group—and a coffee shop called Brew.

“Our team recognized the unprecedented nature of District Hall from the earliest stages of its conception.  At once a civic building, an informal gathering place, an urban lab, and a catalyst for innovation, the building demanded a design that was both formally distinct and programmatically flexible,” said Hacin + Associates President David Hacin in a press statement. “As the development of its surrounding neighborhood unfolds, we can only anticipate the unique and personalized ways in which people will interact with District Hall and the impact it will have on the City of Boston,” he added.

District Hall is operated and managed by the Venture Café Foundation, a non-profit organization under the Cambridge Innovation Center umbrella.

According to BostInno, Artaic and Design Exchange Boston (DxB) recently organized the “Design ‘N Gather Mosaic Design Competition” that was run at the District Hall building throughout the month of October. Artists from all over the world were invited to design mosaic murals that express the concepts of creativity, collaboration and innovation. Joseph Lyman’s “Building Dreams II,” which was selected by David Hacin as the work that best describes the characteristics of the three keypoints in the competition—the Innovation District as a whole, District Hall and Gather—will be installed permanently on one of the restaurant’s walls.

Photo: Gustav Holland, Flagship Photo via Hacin + Associates

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