The Boston Society of Architects is considering relocating from cramped quarters downtown to a more expansive home at Russia Wharf, a redevelopment site in Boston’s Financial District.The move, should it come off, would let the 5,000-member group offer a vast array of programming focusing on the importance of design, Executive Director Tom Keane said in an interview.
Space has long been a limitation for the BSA, which operates out of 3,000 square feet of a building it owns at 52 Broad Street. The non-profit signed a non-binding letter of intent to occupy the first and second floors – a combined 30,000 square feet – at Russia Wharf.
Floor plan proposals slot a retail space, public space and multimedia area on the first floor with BSA offices and museum exhibits on the second floor, according to BSA documents.
Boston Properties’ mixed-use development project at Russia Wharf is slated to include a 31-story, 750,000-square-foot class A office tower, up to 80 residential units and a 650 car parking garage, according to the company’s website.
Keane is leading a due diligence team tasked with vetting the space and broader expansion plans with key members and stakeholders of the BSA. If approved, a lease for the space could be signed as early as April with an expected occupancy date of July 2011.
Under a proposal from Boston Properties, the BSA could occupy the new space without increasing its costs significantly, Keane said.
The planned museum would serve as a learning center with interactive exhibits as well as a showcase for design and building professions. Entry would be free to the public and the BSA expects to attract between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors annually.
The new location would allow the BSA to host large public gatherings, something it is unable to accommodate in its current space.
The Russia Wharf real estate under consideration by the BSA faces Congress Street and Fort Point Channel and includes two boat slips, prompting the group to consider offering architecture tours of the city via boat. Architecture tours of the city conducted by Boston by Foot guides are also a possibility, the BSA said.
"For years, the BSA has been talking about a more visible and public presence for itself," Keane said.