In Progress: MassArt Student Residence Hall / ADD Inc

© Paul Clemence

New York-based architectural photographer Paul Clemence has shared with us recent images and his thoughts on College of Art and Design’s new student residence hall that is being constructed in downtown Boston. The 21-story, $61 million building is planned for completion this year.

Boston is not particularly known as a destination for trendy, contemporary architecture; but some new buildings are beginning to change that perception. From Diller Scofidio Renfro’s Institute of Contemporary Art to Norman Foster’s new wing at The Museum of Fine Arts to the recently completed Renzo Piano addition to the beloved Gardner Museum, the city’s urbanscape is getting a much needed updating. And now, a soon to be finished bold new project by the firm ADD Inc is bringing a colorful twist to the mix. They are the designers behind the new MassArt Students Residence Hall.

Continue reading for more.

© Paul Clemence

One of the project goals was to create a building that addressed the issues pertinent to all involved with it and thus added to student focus group. Input from faculty and the neighboring community were taken with great respect. The architect’s team tirelessly researched core curriculum demands and the needs required to create an environment would foster the interactions and artistic dialogue suitable for such a place.

© Paul Clemence

Combining dorms (493 beds) and a health center shared by MassArt, MCPHS and Wentworth Institute of Technology, the 145000-square-foot building features all the pre-requisite standards we come to expect from new construction. The building is LEED Silver certified and already has received official recognition, as it was awarded Honorable Mention in the American Institute of Architects’ Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Building Information Model Awards competition. Both the BIM Excellence and Delivery Process Innovations categories were lauded.

© Paul Clemence

The design is composed of an elegant tower, slightly skewed in geometry, resting with a subtle tilt from the base that gives the composition a well behaved yet playful feel. The main volume is clad with metal panels painted in tones of yellow mustard and highlights on fresh citrus green (if it wasn’t for the not so tropical temperatures, you would think it’s Miami).

© Paul Clemence

“We are happy to have exciting and new buildings in the neighborhood. Hopefully that will inspire more interest in good architecture in the city”, says Anne Hawley, director of the close by, exquisitely expanded Gardner Museum.

© Paul Clemence

Located on the so-called Avenue of the Arts, in contrast to its lofty close by neighbors, the imposing Foster wing and the glistening Piano addition, this project’s program is not a home for the finest in high art, but provides for a rather more mundane activity, housing for the future makers of that so-called high art. And in that it makes possibly an even stronger statement, one that suggests Boston is now ready to bring contemporary design to a broader audience, by incorporating it to its everyday buildings.

Written by Paul Clemence

© Paul Clemence
Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "In Progress: MassArt Student Residence Hall / ADD Inc" 04 May 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 May 2015. <>
  • Chelsea

    Wow! What exciting architecure. I love the playful nature of the design.
    I also agree with Anne Hawley, hopefully good buildings like this will inspire more interest in good architecture – not just in the city, but everywhere!

  • Keith

    Am I the only one that thinks this color scheme probably looked good in renderings but is absolutely awful in reality?

    Having seen this building in person regularly over the past few months – I find it to be completely out of scale for the neighborhood and it’s colors to be embarrassingly unharmonious.

  • Roger Rivera

    I see this building everyday so believe me when I say this. The building looks good in the renderings and pictures that are taken from a distance. However, once your up close the building just looks, well, bad. It is out of place with its surroundings and and because of the size of it, the building actually casts a shadow onto Piano’s addition that is undesirable. Overall this project is good in concept, but just does not belong.

  • Sam Loso

    I am a wentworth architecture student, meaning I live literally right next to this building. I’ve watched it grow from day one, and it has really grown on me. Several others agree; its quite jarring at first glance, but once left to ponder you sort of fall for it. Anyways, I’m disappointed that this article didn’t mention that the building’s odd colors and seemingly strange placement of windows is because the building itself is an interpretation of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” painting.

    It’s really interesting to see how the architects both showed program of the building (small windows indicate restrooms, larger ones bedrooms/common areas, largest windows indicated lobby space) yet kept the painting’s general style in-tact.

  • Ed

    The reason that this building may seem out of scale with its adjacencies is because the architects chose to address the program vertically, which is responsible when within an urban infill project that has limited footprint. The fact of the matter is the execution of the concept (believed to be the saturated colors in a Gustav Klimt painting) was quite successful. In an area of Boston that contains the Gardner Museum, the MFA and several universities, I would argue that the idea of shedding the typical brick skin resonating old Boston and instead treating it to resonate an artist’s painted canvas, belongs.

  • Robin

    It’s a breath of fresh air for Boston and an inspirational landmark for the young, vibrant student population. Bravo!

  • Peter

    A breath of progressive, fresh air.

    …keep those bright colors coming…the winters are long here.

  • Rocky

    Wow! Let’s hope that more modern architecture continues to crop up in Boston. I agree that the warm exterior paneling is a wonderful departure from the traditional brick or more recent silver metal paneling with precast. I wonder what the inside of the building is going to look like.

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