Located at the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets in Boston, 699 Boylston is one of the Back Bay’s most highly visible and accessible buildings. Built in 1968 and renovated in 1984, the original structure’s imposing appearance and atypical height stood in contrast to its other mixed-use neighbors. Similarly, its unwelcoming and poorly-planned retail storefronts deprived the block of pedestrian activity. But in 2012, a capital management firm with several properties in Boston purchased the property with the goal of invigorating and enhancing this urban asset.
A new façade, stretching two stories tall with highly transparent storefronts to the retail spaces, was designed to inspire activity at the ground level. The ground floor tenant spaces were boldly framed while also creating a new base for the bay windows above. Abundant glazing highlights what’s going on inside the retail spaces and connects the building with the bustling pedestrian activity on Boylston Street.
The streetscape was transformed with a simple yet strategic design that delineates a plaza in front of the building, a public way, and a public furnishings zone with permeable pavers. The design mitigated the slope of the street with multiple entries at the ground level. It will serve to influence future implementations of streetscape improvements along Boylston Street.
The building lobby was also completely reconfigured to capture and create additional leasable space at the street level for new tenants. The new lobby is luxurious and contemporary, with up-lit white marble walls, porcelain tile floors and a sleek new, walnut-clad reception desk anchoring the space.
The project team set out to create a fresh experience for existing and prospective tenants, and a revitalized streetscape for the City of Boston. Formerly named One Exeter Plaza, the repositioned and rebranded 699 Boylston Street is open, active and engaging, all contributing to an increase in the property’s value for the owner and the city alike.