399 Washington Street
The Chicago-based 399 Washington Street ownership team brought in OKW Architects, also based in Chicago, and owner’s rep RL Edward Partners and enlisted the Structure Tone Boston team to reposition the historic building into a new office and retail destination. The completed project preserves the character of the original brownstone while offering the infrastructure and amenities of a modern commercial building.
The project involved “white boxing” the entire interior plus rebuilding the core and shell, from restoring and updating the façade to rebuilding the passenger elevators and installing new MEP and fire alarm systems. Given the building’s age and long-time neglect, the project posed a few challenges on the construction site:
Surprises. Knocking down walls in a 130-year-old building is bound to come with some surprises. “We would open up a wall and find another wall behind that, and another behind that,” says Michael Cantalupo, Structure Tone project manager. “And since we didn’t have up-to-date drawings, those unknowns made it difficult to plan.”
Power. Since there was no tenant in the building for over 10 years, the electrical system had practically been abandoned. The project team had just enough power to get through the demolition phase.
Distance. As the owner and architect were based in Chicago, frequent visits during demo and planning were not feasible. The engineering team was Boston-based, however, so local collaboration was not a problem. Ownership was always “extremely accessible and collaborative,” says Cantalupo, and once redevelopment began, they were on-site regularly.
Our team put up scaffolding and removed the paint from the façade to install new glass curtain wall panels on the first two floors. We also rebuilt all the existing infrastructure systems inside. Now completely modernized, the space is ready to accommodate new commercial and retail tenants.