General Electric’s Innovation Point will be much more than a headquarters.
Looking at the renderings for the future GE Innovation Point, you might first be struck by its shape—or shapes. The design itself is the very picture of innovation, with a three-building campus, plentiful access to the outdoors, and abundant space for groups to come together and explore big ideas.
The project’s three pillars make it special, both preserving history and building for the future, according to Todd Dundon, a principal at Gensler, the architecture firm behind the remarkable design. “GE will redefine what a campus can do for a company, city, and the environment,” Dundon says. “In addition to being home to 800 GE employees, Innovation Point will host collaborators from the innovation, start-up, and learning communities.”
The community will benefit from the project when it’s all said and done, too. Approximately 75% of the ground floor will be open for public use, including a planned coffee shop, work lounge, and GE experience center. The final campus will include a new and improved public outdoor space like a new public dock, outdoor event space, enhanced harbor walk, and, in general, 1.5 acres of green space—all of it for everyone.
GE’s vision is to bring those in the innovative Boston ecosystem together, Dundon says, including new and established businesses, academic groups, and others. “A key piece of this strategy is a convener space on the 11th floor that can hold up to 500 people. To accommodate this space while respecting the Massachusetts waterfront development setback requirements, we had the opportunity to get creative. A two-story truss runs along the sixth and seventh floors to support a cantilever on the west side, providing adequate floor space for the convener space.”
The property will also host something called the Brilliant Career Lab, a first-of-its-kind interactive mobile technology lab aimed at preparing college students for STEM careers.
Old Meets New
Renovation of the two historic brick buildings—former Necco candy manufacturing properties that will become GE’s North Point—began in mid-2017. Once complete, the project’s second phase will begin, which includes the new 12-story building to be known as South Point and the public open space. For the renovated buildings, which originally had six levels, the design removes the second floor in order to raise the first floor by 4.5 feet and protect against flooding.
“It was interesting to approach the Landmarks Commission about potentially eliminating one floor of a historic structure,” Dundon says. But considering Boston’s vulnerability to climate change impacts like stormwater and coastal flooding, he says the commission was receptive, understanding that resiliency was key to the building’s longevity.
When South Point opens, its solar veil is expected to generate approximately 10% of the campus’ energy use. The photovoltaic panels will also be easily removable, so that as panel technology and efficiency improves, Innovation Point’s generation capabilities may also advance. Dundon says the flexible frame-work of the veil will also shade the southern façade to reduce solar heat gain and solar glare.
In addition to the plentiful solar panels and rooftop gardens, Innovation Point will focus efforts on water recapture and reuse and include charging stations for electric vehicles.
You’ll also never be more than three floors away from outdoor space when you’re in South Point, Dundon says, with massing shifts at the sixth and 11th floors, and the 13th floor roof terrace. “With plants, informal seating, fresh air, and city views, the rooftop gardens will connect campus residents and visitors to nature and the surrounding city.”
“GE’s Innovation Point will build on the proud history and tradition of Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood in ways that are emblematic of GE’s transformation from an industrial company into a digital industrial company,” Dundon says, “emphasizing community and collaboration, sustainability, resiliency, innovation, and transparency.”
- LOCATION Boston
- SIZE 390,000 square feet
- North Point: 2019
- South Point: mid-2021
- COST $200 million
- OJB Landscape Architecture
- RDK Engineers
- Consigli Construction