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Inside the Spaceship: New Balance's Boston Landing HQ

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[Photos via New Balance and girlgoesdowntown]

We've heard a lot about the long-awaited 15-acre development of Boston Landing. It houses the now-open 250,000-square-foot New Balance World Headquarters. It represents "the opportunity to transform this district of Allston-Brighton into an iconic gateway to the City of Boston from the west," Jim Halliday, managing director of Boston Landing developer NB Development Group, explained to Curbed Boston during a tour of the headquarters. Now that the HQ has opened its doors, we can view the interior design, brought to you by Elkus Manfredi Architects. While it looks like a spaceship or cruise ship from the outside, the inside is a fusion of the past and future.

Its inspiration? New Balance's Lawrence, Mass. manufacturing facility, a restored mill building along the Merrimack River. The idea was to recreate a modern version that incorporates the concept of movement.

How to do that? Through technology and geometric design that marries white paint, concrete, wood, and glass on a canvas of digital screens, expansive windows and grass. When you walk in, you're greeted with a modern atrium and interactive Visitor Engagement Center. There is an art sculpture, comprised of a series of triangular pieces that twists and writhes from floor to ceiling. It has a tripod base that is inspired by the model of perfect balance, according to the sneaker brand's founder, William Riley in 1906. This inspiration is a chicken foot. Yes, you read that right. The three, um, claws also stand for the company's trinity of values: integrity, teamwork and total customer satisfaction.

The office space showcases the company's history, culture and innovations. Every floor has feature walls and interactive screens that broadcast images of athletes and products.

All the bells and whistles of art and technology are meant to help employees get work done, according to Halliday: "The building was designed with raised flooring, which allows for individuals to control their environment in terms of both heating and cooling comfort as well as ease of plug and play technology. The workstations have ultimate flexibility, where associates can choose to stand or sit, allowing for both privacy when needed but face-to-face contact as well."

According to Keith Craig, director of NB Development Group: "One of the intentions was to be less about individual workspace and more about open concept and collaboration space designed to invoke creativity and innovation. Within the building this collaboration can happen intentionally with scheduled meetings, but possibly, more importantly, organically through informal interaction. The facility allows for this naturally with fewer walled offices, more conference and meeting rooms, shared workstations, and informal gathering spots."

We all know that there's plenty of time in New England to be cooped up indoors. NB realizes this, too. For this reason, Craig notes, the firm brought outdoors into the design, with "strong connections to landscaped and greenscaped outdoor areas off a terrace and ground levels that invite people to move and informally gather and interact." The result? More walking and communing for overall wellness. Athlete's Park at Boston Landing, which has more than an acre of open green and plaza space, will be open to the community.

If you think that this is a lot to accomplish, wait 'til you see what they have in store next. There's office space, marketed for corporate office, healthcare, clinic, technology, and research use, of approximately 460,000 square feet at 40 and 60 Guest streets. Harvard Business School Publishing has already signed on as a tenant, moving out of Watertown.

It would be cool to be able to buy a few things while here, wouldn't it? New Balance agrees. Approximately 20,000 square feet of retail space will be available, with about 8,800 square feet becoming a New Balance Experience store. At full build-out, retail and restaurant space will encompass approximately 80,000 square feet.

What about the athletes? Future phases of the development include the Warrior Ice House, which will be the new practice and training complex for the Boston Bruins, along with a 10-story, mixed-use office building comprised of approximately 190,000 square feet located at 80 Guest Street.

Have guests that need to stay somewhere nearby? All set. In 2018/2019, a boutique hotel that will include approximately 140,000 square feet with up to 175 rooms.

No car to get here? No problem! A new commuter rail station from South Station on the Framingham/Worcester line will help transport people to and from Boston without cars. Give that 'til the end 2016.

Don't feel like commuting? Might as well live here, then. A residential complex will have a mix of unit sizes, a range of amenities and street-level retail.

All this in phases by the end of 2019, with a total build-out of more than 1.7 million s.f. Clearly, New Balance is latching onto the live/work/play philosophy. Good thing, too: The firm says it is expanding its empire, which already includes ownership of five factories in New England and one in Flimby, U.K., and it employs more than 5,000 people around the globe.
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· Our complete Boston Landing coverage [Curbed Boston]
· Our Reviews archive [Curbed Boston]