Berklee Gets OK for 500,000-Square-Foot Expansion

Allen Bush
May 13, 2011
How 168 Massachusetts Avenue will look walking toward the building from Boylston Street.
The future streetscape of Massachusetts Avenue from the direction of Symphony Hall.
Photo provided by William Rawn Associates Architects Inc. of Boston
Photo William Rawn Associates Architects Inc. of Boston

Positive changes are coming to the campus and the city. The Boston Redevelopment Authority has approved Berklee College of Music's institutional master plan for developing three parcels along Massachusetts Avenue that will add 500,000 square feet of classroom, performance, administrative, student life, and dorm space for 800 students. The architect is William Rawn Associates Architects Inc. of Boston. Construction for one of the projects will begin this fall.

The three parcels are 168, 161–171, and 130–136 Massachusetts Avenue, the latter of which is at the corner of Boylston Street where the Berklee Performance Center currently sits. That site, referred to as the Berklee Crossroads project, will see the most dramatic changes when it's fully developed as a 24-story tower featuring a new, state-of-the-art performance center. The Crossroads was originally designed at 29 stories, but in a series of meetings over four years, neighbors asked that the college seek ways to lower the height, which was accomplished with the acquisition of the other properties.

The projects will also add housing for a total of 800 students, contributing to Boston mayor Thomas Menino's request that colleges and universities move more students on-campus to free up rental apartments for neighborhood residents.

The first project to be constructed is 168 Massachusetts Avenue, for a projected cost of $100 million. A building on the site now will be razed to create a 16-story, 155,000-square-foot mixed-use building with floor-to-ceiling windows on the bottom floors illuminating student life and music for passersby. Construction is planned for the fall of this year with an opening for the 2013 fall semester. 168 Massachusetts Avenue will also house new dorm rooms with approximately 370 beds, a two-story dining hall and student performance venue with seating for 400. A music technology center with recording studios will be developed below grade. Practice and ensemble rooms and student lounges will occupy the upper floors. Along the street will be retail space.

"Developing these projects promises to be the most exciting event in my tenure at the college," says Berklee president Roger H. Brown. "With all of the new living space, we'll be able to house our entire entering class. And, with all that it has to offer, 168 Massachusetts Avenue is going to be an important addition to the fabric of the neighborhood. I really appreciate the BRA task force for all their hard work on the project."

William Rawn Associates, Architects Inc. is responsible for a number of award-winning performing arts and campus buildings, including the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, the Williams College '62 Center for Theatre and Dance, the new Cambridge Public Library, and Northeastern University buildings G and H.