The Abbott Buildings

Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

Client

Regency Centers

Program

Historic renovation of two existing 4-story buildings (The Abbot Building and 18 Brattle Street) plus new construction of a 4-story infill building to create 60,000 square feet of space for a mix of uses.

Challenge

This iconic and beloved collection of buildings is the centerpiece of historic Harvard Square. The buildings required extensive rehabilitation to restore their historic character and bring them up to modern day safety and accessibility requirements. The renovation needed to meet the needs of modern retail, restaurant, and office space while enhancing the experience of Harvard Square.

Solution

Regency Centers partnered with PCA to restore and modernize this gem. The design revitalizes the two historic buildings (built in 1894 and 1909) to their original condition and adds a third building between them that is compatible in material, scale, and design, yet is clearly modern. Together, the three connected buildings provide space for retail, restaurants, and offices to thrive. A variety of active ground floor tenants further enliven the sidewalk experience of Harvard Square. In addition, restoration of the brick walkway on Brattle Street creates a safe and enjoyable pedestrian experience. On the 4th floor, an added roof deck creates space to enjoy views of both Harvard and Brattle Square.

As a Cambridge-based member of the Harvard Square Business Association, PCA brought an understanding of the need to enhance the unique experience that defines Harvard Square. PCA and Regency Centers listened carefully to the Cambridge community, planning department, and Historical Commission to achieve a design that is both elegant and responsive to its context.