Case sharing: Glass architecture | Boston Hiltotun Garden Hotel

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At a busy crossroads on the Brookline edge of Boston’s medical district, this gracefully curved and sculptural building deftly knits the verdant Olmstead Emerald Necklace with nearby commercial and residential blocks, decisively anchoring its prominent site. Wrapped in taut glass and comprised of three stepped masses, the building is highly responsive to its unique, urban setting.

Creating a building of significant visual interest that also presents a unique urban hotel experience was a central objective for this project on a challenging triangular site with each face of the building responding to distinct contextual situations. Three glassy volumes wrap around the site and reach varying heights. The building steps down to the Emerald Necklace to allow light into the park, while the urban street edges grow taller to greet the neighboring Longwood Medical District and create a gateway between Brookline and Boston. Fritted glass panels create a visual gradient of textures and soft reflections that reduce glare, unwanted heat gain, and bird strikes – a common issue with glass buildings.

Previously, the site was home to a defunct gas station that was unpleasant and unsafe for pedestrians crossing between Brookline and Boston. The new hotel not only changed the site’s program, but it also transformed the streetscape experience with improved sidewalks, crosswalks, a new traffic pattern with updated traffic and street lights, and a new bike path with bike racks, a repair station, and drinking fountains. 

Robust and inclusive public discourse, along with developer’s commitment to neighbors’ concerns, led the way for this site-specific solution whose form responds to various needs and desires of the town. The prominent corner facing the bustling intersection of Brookline Avenue and Route 9 invites views into the public lobby and seating area where everyone is welcome to relax near the fireplace. A catalyst for community development, the hotel’s design grew from an equitable and inclusive community process with open workshops to encourage dialogues between the developer and town members.

Featuring community meeting space, a casual and inviting lobby seating area and a singular restaurant that celebrates local cuisine and lore, this hotel is a solid and welcome presence for the neighborhood and appeals to travelers seeking a non-generic experience. The hotel’s public areas create a welcome and much-needed social space where the locally owned, one-of-a-kind restaurant and bar enlivens the arrivals lobby and spills out on to the streetscape to create an outdoor dining patio next to the park.


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