This design proposes transforming a garbage incinerator building into an “Eco-Auto Research Showroom” showcasing the latest eco-friendly automotive technologies and concepts.
Site and History:
The site is located in Somerville’s Brick Bottom District, abutting the McGrath Highway. In the early 1900’s the Somerville’s Brick Bottom district had a number of small automotive related manufacturers locate there. Later Ford even set up an assembly shop in what is now nearby Assembly Square. Even today, Herb Chambers Companies has a major showroom located along the McGrath. At nearby MIT, major research and design is being conducted in revolutionary automotive design and research.
These technologies and others being developed around the world need a showcase, allowing the public to come and see the wide array of designs/technologies being developed and coming to market. Similarly, the retailers, vendors, and researchers need a place where they can collect and evaluate the public’s reaction to these emerging technologies and concepts as they market these new products.
The large shell of the original incinerator building is inhabited as a kind of ruin. While most exterior walls remain, those walls facing the highway are opened up, allowing passers-by to see the dramatic interior. The multi-level showroom is serviced by a series of ramps and a large elevator on the North Side of the site. Each floor provides a highly flexible plan allowing for cars, and technologies to be displayed, while engaging visitors and employees in dialogue. Offices and services are located along the east and north walls. The service garage and technology labs are located to the east in an ancillary structure. Together with landscaping, these structures attempt to create well-defined spaces, strengthening the relationships of adjacent buildings with each other, and the Brick Bottom context.
Shading devises and landscaping is integrated as part of the west facade design, allowing for visual access, yet minimizing heat loads. The design of large spaces and window apertures are designed to encourage natural ventilation.