Beyond a prime location and accessibility, what are the best tactics for attracting tenants and their patrons to a commercial real estate property? CBRE/New England wanted to reinvent the Porter Square Galleria, located in one of Cambridge’s most densely populated neighborhoods. Our in-depth experience with guiding our clients from early space studies through completed renovations initiated the start of our relationship with them through a collaboration to redesign the interior of the building.

Porter Square Galleria
Porter Square Galleria

The success of a commercial property depends on many factors, the most important being the tenants that lease space and the business that stems from their patrons. The Porter Square Galleria needed a reconfiguration to better suit tenant and neighborhood needs, increase square footage for its retailers, and improve the safety and aesthetic of the amenity spaces. Our team began by conducting studies of the space, then created design options for making improvements to meet the client’s goals. 

Porter Square Galleria
Porter Square Galleria

Several challenges and solutions from the process included:

Maximize use of space and make it move-in ready: To increase the square footage of retail space and build white boxes” for incoming tenants, our design team gutted the base building to start fresh and make it move-in ready. Instead of being divided into several small retail spaces along an underutilized two-story corridor, the space was to be divided into one large anchor tenant that would take the entire second floor and part of the first. The challenge was then to create a repositioned first floor common galleria space that would serve the retail tenants adjacent to the larger anchor tenant. 

Maintain connection to outside: We also took on the structural challenge of infilling the second level floor. While that added more retail space, it reduced the openness and daylighting that permeated the original atrium. To reconnect the new design and the outdoors, we used innovative lighting that gave the appearance of skylights, a wood palette for the furniture, and a suspended acoustic trellis suggestive of a courtyard feel that also provides acoustic benefits. 

Improve security: The client needed an inviting lobby that encouraged a comfortable flow of visitor traffic. Redesigning the Galleria into two large, open floors greatly improved the layout, and allowed for better visual security of the common area. Our design team installed custom, serpentine wood benching with attached tables for patrons to use during their visit. The curvature of the bench purposefully discourages extended use by any single visitor, as it is meant to accommodate many guests throughout each day. 

A modern aesthetic: The Galleria needed a more modern design that could also serve as a neutral backdrop to the sometimes vibrantly branded retail and restaurant tenants. Our team’s design solution was to go with a palette that included: Wood benching, porcelain tile, glass and stainless steel railings, distribution light boxes, acoustic trellises, and a communicating stair.

Scroll through for a glimpse at the transformation process

The Porter Square Galleria’s robust transformation has made it an inviting retail and restaurant destination. The crisp, open, and light-filled building provides a calm reprieve from the surrounding urban neighborhood.

Porter Square Galleria
Porter Square Galleria

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