Hostelling International USA’s mission is “To help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.” The premiere provider of accommodations to young travelers worldwide, HI USA’s popular Boston programs outgrew their Fenway location. HI leadership recognized an opportunity to affect a brand migration and attract a more design-conscious clientele by creating an urban flagship with multipurpose public spaces. Hostelling International, a non-profit, also saw the facility as an opportunity to deepen its connections to Boston’s cultural and philanthropic communities.
Working in partnership with Stegman Associates, Bergmeyer first developed a multifaceted program and qualitative success criteria for the project that informed the extensive site selection process and guided decision-making during space planning. The property selected by the project development team, a historic warehouse in between Boston’s Theater District and Chinatown, had a considerable amount of commercial storefront. This allowed the hostel’s first floor lobby spaces to effectively host a variety of community engagement activities and connect guests to the vibrant streetscape outside the building.
Visibility between and across interior common areas was an important design criteria for HI Boston. With the ground floor spaces made entirely public, an interconnecting stair behind the security gate gives guests private access to common kitchen and dining spaces on the second floor. Taking full advantages of the building’s two-story storefront glazing, the dining spaces also gain views of the streetscape while giving pedestrians views of activity on both floors.
Capitalizing on the innate efficiency of hostel accommodations and building on adaptive reuse as a strategy, the team designed a hostel that earned LEED Silver certification. Sustainable design features include high-performance space heating and cooling systems, building envelope enhancements, high recycled-content furniture and finishes, bicycle storage, reduced lighting power density, and regionally-sourced recycled building materials.
The historic warehouse building’s deep floor plans presented the design team with an opportunity. Extra space at every elevator lobby was reimagined as quiet lounge spaces and color-themed by floor.
The design of guest room presented a unique challenge. Aspiring to maximize the bed count, the building’s existing window spacing generated long, narrow rooms. Designing custom headboards and lockers to separate bunk beds, the design team put all three bunks in a typical six-bed room against the same wall like “railroad cars”. This not only hit HI’s target bed count, but maximized privacy for each bed’s occupant.
A green roof, a solar hot water array, and usable outdoor space for social events were planned (but not completed) for the project’s roof. HI Boston was financed with Historic Preservation and New market tax credits and earned LEED Certification. It has received numerous awards for design excellence, sustainable design, hospitality design, and historic preservation.