I walk by the Boston Architectural College (BAC) on Back Bay‘s Newbury Street all the time and marvel at the student designs in the window. Sometimes when I see they are having an event to showcase the students’ work I will stop in and peruse the extraordinary talent. Especially if the transparent glass windows display a lovely showcase of gratis provisions.
Upon first glance this Newbury Street building may seem a bit small, but the school is actually New England’s largest independent college of spatial design.
If you frequently walk down Boylston Street just parallel to Newbury, you might be familiar with the Division 16 police station at 951 Boylston, which sits just next to the fire station. This is of importance because for the first time in almost 50 years, the BAC has a brand new building designed by Commodore Construction and the Institute for Human Centered Design right in the police station’s place.
Built in 1887, the new BAC building was once known as Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (now located in South Boston). Though the edifice required some much needed electrical upgrades among various other renovations, the acquisition was a necessary step for the college’s development in order to meet their admissions demands and accommodate properly for the teaching/learning materials required to maintain their leading edge.
The old police station was originally purchased in 2006 and the first several stages of transformation took place in 2009 and 2010. The building is now comprised of a new lecture hall, communal student space, gallery, studios and workshops. Says the college’s president Ted Landsmark, ” This new Back Bay space enables us to bring together design professionals who think innovatively about how design can address pressing urban, environmental, health and wellness, and sustainability problems, and supports our engagement with diverse individuals and groups that use design to improve human living, work and recreational conditions. ”