The Waterworks Museum showcases the landmark steam powered pumps.
The historic Waterworks buildings sit along the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and the surrounding Olmsted Brothers landscape.
The Waterworks Museum building includes a public museum and four private residences.
Entrance to the Waterorks Museum
The Beaux Arts Whitehall exterior was preserved and restored with new windows.
The new addition within the northeast wing of Whitehall created an enclosed private courtyard.
Expansive windows provide views to the private courtyard and the reservoir beyond.
A second level was added to Waterford.
The second level of Waterford provides unobstructed views.
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The Waterworks at Chestnut Hill
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
The Chestnut Hill Waterworks is recognized as the finest and most intact 19th century water system in the country, noted for the quality of its architecture, engineering, landscape design, and urban planning. The Bradlee Basin of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir occupies 87.5 acres and was completed in 1870. The reservoir and pumping stations served the citizens of Boston for more than eight decades and were a great source of civic pride. The area around the reservoir was the city’s first large pastoral park complemented by a carriage road and greenway designed by the Olmsted brothers.

In the 1970s the buildings were taken out of regular service and fell into disuse. The pump stations and their contents were designated in 1998 as one of the state’s 10 most endangered historic resources by the non-profit Preservation Massachusetts. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a City of Boston Landmark.

This project involved the adaptive reuse of the two landmark public works buildings that originally housed steam-powered pumps and their adjacent carriage house. Creating residential units within each of the buildings presented unique design opportunities. Challenges included maintaining historic facades and designing functional units that fit within the existing parameters.

Whitehall, the former c. 1899 Low Service Pump Station, is a Beaux Arts Classical building originally designed by Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge. Twenty unique condominiums were created, including 16 flats and four townhouses, in addition to a common lobby, fitness center and management office.

Minimal windows on the northeast wing of the building did not support the fenestration requirements for residences. Because the historic facade could not be altered, a new structure was placed within this wing, creating an interior courtyard between the historic facade and the new structure, and allowing for light-filled spaces in the new units. Responding to New England vernacular, unfinished cedar siding was selected for the new facade. Expansive windows provide views to the private courtyard and the reservoir beyond.

Waterford, the former Operations building, sits between the two pump stations and originally functioned as a carriage house serving the two stations. This 10,000-square-foot building was converted into seven unique residences—five flats and two townhouses. A second floor was added to double its size. A band of clearstory windows offers unobstructed views to the reservoir and park. The new hipped slate roof is in keeping with the site. Special consideration was taken to save an elm tree, located at the building’s southwest corner.

The Waterworks Museum and the Museum Residences, the former c. 1887 High Service Pump Station, is a Richardsonian Romanesque building originally designed by Arthur Vinal, and with a later 1898 addition by Wheelwright & Haven. The 37,000 SF building was converted into four unique condominiums, and a portion of the building was preserved as a public museum. The museum showcases the landmark steam pumps and celebrates the history of the site. A two-story glass conference room supports museum functions, and offers dramatic views to the historic pumps and architecture. The details of the conference room were designed to complement the industrial character of the machinery.

COMPLETION

2008

SIZE

53,000 SF Whitehall
10,000 SF Waterford
37,000 SF The Waterworks Museum and Museum Residences

AWARDS

AIA/ U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Housing Design Award
Boston Preservation Alliance, Preservation Award
The Victorian Society of American New England Chapter, Award for Preservation
Builder Magazine, Builder’s Choice Grand Winner

PHOTOGRAPHY

Chuck Choi
Mark Flannery

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