Macallen Building Condominiums / office dA

© John Horner Photography
© John Horner Photography

Architects: office dA
Location: South Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Architect of Record: Burt Hill
Principals in Charge: Monica Ponce de Leon, Nader Tehrani
Project Architect: Dan Gallagher
Project Manager: Lisa Huang
Project Team: Ghazal Abassy, Remon Alberts, Hansy Luz Better, Scott Ewart, Katja Gischas, Anna Goodman, David Jeffries, Krists Karklins, Ethan Kushner, Christine Mueller, Julian Palacio, Penn Ruderman, Ahmad Reza Schricker, Harry Lowd
Project Area: 32,516 sqm
Project year: 2002-2007
Photographs: John Horner Photography

© John Horner Photography © John Horner Photography © John Horner Photography © John Horner Photography

1st floor plan
1st floor plan

As a pivotal building in the urban revitalization of South Boston, the Macallen Building’s design requires a reassessment of conventional residential typologies to produce an innovative building that works within a developer’s financially competitive budget. Occupying a transitional site that mediates between highway off-ramps, an old residential fabric, and an industrial zone, the building negotiates different scales and urban configurations. The design addresses two scales and the different edge conditions of the surrounding context through varied spatial conditions, various ways of reacting to the public sphere, and accompanying material and façade articulations to reinforce the scales of interaction.

© John Horner Photography
© John Horner Photography
west elevation
west elevation

On the western end, the building responds to the highway with a curtain wall yielding panoramic views for the residents inside the building. On the eastern end, brickwork mirrors that of the residential building fabric, extending the logic of the storefront and pedestrian scale elements on that facade. On the north and south facades, bronzed aluminum panels reflect the industrial neighborhood component and express the structural system organization. Additionally, the Macallen building was designed from the ground up to take advantage of “green” building techniques and materials. It is the first LEED certified building of its type in Boston.

© John Horner Photography
© John Horner Photography


This was a charged and difficult urban site between a historic neighborhood, an industrial wasteland, and an infrastructural interchange. The scale and scope of the project was substantial and demonstrates ’s ability to work within the complex process of gaining public approval for a project. This design received LEED Gold certification and is a hallmark of ’s experience in advancing and promoting sustainability.

Products in this project

Bathroom Equipment: Caroma

  • Caravelle Dual Flush High Efficiency Toilet by Caroma

Construction materials, Semi-finished materials: Hardstone, Deitrich, Titebond, A. Jandris And Sons, Viracon, Aggregate Industries, Environ Biocomposites Mfg, LLC , Endicott Clay Products

  • Recycled Granite Composite Countertops by Hardstone
  • Wood/Metal Studs by Deitrich
  • Melamine Glue Core Material by Titebond
  • Concrete Masonry Unit by A. Jandris And Sons
  • Glazing glass by Viracon
  • Concrete by Aggregate Industries
  • Wood Glue by Environ Biocomposites Mfg, LLC
  • Manganese Smooth Ironspot Norman Size Type FBX by Endicott Clay Products

Facades: Vistawall

  • Metal/glass curtainwall by Vistawall

Floor: Brookside Veneers Ltd., Tarkett, Shaw Floors, Bamboo Flooring, Graniti Fiandre

  • Veneer by Brookside Veneers Ltd.
  • Linoleum Etrusco by Tarkett
  • Peto II by Shaw Floors
  • Bamboo Flooring by Bamboo Flooring
  • Tile by Graniti Fiandre

Heating and Ventilation: Trane, Dolphin Clearwater Systems LLC

  • MCCB-1 Air Handler, Energy Recovery Unit by Trane
  • Water treatment technology for Cooling Towers by Dolphin Clearwater Systems LLC

Joinery: OpenAire, Inc., Marshfield Door Systems, Inc.

  • Retractable Roof Fabricator by OpenAire, Inc.
  • Doors fabricator by Marshfield Door Systems, Inc.

Lighting, Heating, Home/building automation: Halo , Beachside, Flos, Lightolier

  • Downlights: H5T-5020H by Halo
  • Exterior: L-017 by Beachside
  • Downlights: H1499T-1419P by Halo
  • Florescent indoor wall lighting (on motion sensors) by Flos
  • Downlights: 1004ICN-11772 by Lightolier

Mobile Partitions/Suspended Ceilings/Raised Floors: Tectum, Inc

  • Lay-in Ceiling Panels in Corridors by Tectum, Inc

Roof: American Hydrotech, Inc.

  • Sloped roofing by American Hydrotech, Inc.

Staircases, Elevators, Moving walks: Otis

  • Gen2 Elevator System by Otis

Structures: Cives Steel Company

  • Structural system by Cives Company

Walls: PPG, Donghia, Innovations in Wallcoverings, Inc. , Sainte Agostino, Dal Tile

  • Pure Performance Flat Latex 9-100 by PPG
  • Pitt-glaze Water Based Epoxy 16-551 by PPG
  • Grasscloth Wallcovering by Donghia
  • Cork #2954 by Innovations in Wallcoverings, Inc.
  • Tile by Sainte Agostino
  • Cork #2964 by Innovations in Wallcoverings, Inc.
  • Tile by Dal Tile
  • Pure Performance Semi-Gloss Latex 9-500 by PPG
  • Pitt-tech Primer 90-715 by PPG
  • Cork #2963 by Innovations in Wallcoverings, Inc.
  • Cork #2965 by Innovations in Wallcoverings, Inc.
Cite: "Macallen Building Condominiums / office dA" 25 Nov 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Kenny Isidoro

    Thanks for including so many drawings and diagrams; it’s very well documented. Negotiating a very complex area, the massing and detailing make so much sense. It’s definitely one of Boston’s best new buildings.

  • sullka

    Some of the engineers came to our office to talk about this project, was pretty interesteing, specially the structural design.

    Funny note on how the developer bought a PH unit and added a pool in it during construction, having to cut out some beams and reinforce others.

  • Andrew

    A forward thinking project of this craft is refreshing to see in the states. It reminds me of the office buildings in northern Europe. Nicely done office dA.

  • jqt

    office da (and burt hill in this case) solves so many complex probems with this project in a programatic and aesthetically pleasing way. kudos to the developer to for having the insight that good design pays off in the long run.

  • richie

    the chess facade is one of the best that i heve seen in the last couple of months, very good, it has a far view and a close detail view very nice!both situations are not easy to control in architecture.

  • rmsnmz

    It is just refreshing to see anything above average in Boston where contemporary architecture is seen like an evil practice.

    That said, I appreciate the effort behind this building. Formally, it is pragmatically and successfully crafted to its site and surroundings. One thing that bothers me frankly is the facade treatment. It looks like every single surface was designed by a different architect. It might very well be intentional (like MVRDV) to show different programs on the facade radically but here, being a condo building, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of differentiation in program which would necessitate the change in material on the facade.

  • Joahn

    HEY, isn’t this really in McAllen, Texas? I think I saw it there…are you sure about the location?

  • loom

    It’s really good both in section solution and facade!!

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  • Bill Gnech

    Interesting Building. I was commissioned to photograph the exterior after it was built. Watch out for the seagulls, their aim is pretty good.