The Godfrey Hotel Brings New Life to Downtown Crossing

As published in High Profile on July 27, 2015
By Anastasia Barnes

The Gettys Group-Cafe_view_1_660a7aBoston is considered the nation’s third oldest city, tracing back to the 1630s when the Puritans traveled over from England. The history of Boston is evident almost 400 centuries later. With terra-cotta façades and ornate designs, the charm of Boston’s architecture permeates throughout the city’s streets and into its surrounding neighborhoods, reminding both residents and visitors of its colonial roots.

It’s no wonder that history’s charm is making a comeback, architecturally speaking. Adaptive reuse is a practice that has taken Boston, and other Northeast cities, by storm, paying homage to a city’s history while building sustainably. After all, this kind of construction conserves land and saves energy and resources, which is attractive to both commercial and residential developers alike. That’s what Chicago-based developer Oxford Capital Group, LLC recognized when it purchased property in Boston’s Downtown Crossing district in 2013. Formerly the site of the Blake and Amory buildings (both built in the the early 1900s), 505 Washington Street will soon be the home to The Godfrey Hotel.

The Gettys Group-Craft_Bar_ViewFinegold Alexander Architects, a Boston-based design firm known for its historic preservation work, is the architect behind the 135,000 sf hotel. “Our firm has been adapting, preserving, restoring, and renovating a wide variety of building types since our founding in the 1960s. Our earliest projects helped establish national standards for saving important structures at a time when renewal meant removal. In recent years, I have seen an increasing trend in the reuse of historic buildings as hotels,” said Ellen Anselone, AIA, LEED AP, associate principal of Finegold Alexander Architects. “What is exciting for us . . . is that we are seeing 19th and 20th century buildings in urban settings getting a much closer look, and we are being asked to create much more innovative and visionary designs for these projects.”

When complete, The Godfrey Hotel will have a prewar brick-and-stone façade honoring Boston’s heritage. The mid-century interiors, designed by The Gettys Design Group, will feature a contemporary lobby, 16-ft. ceilings and sculptural walls, a George Howell coffee tasting bar, and new luxury restaurant.

To contrast the old world feel of the exterior’s façade, all 242 rooms in the hotel will have a modern yet simple feel to them. According to Ellen Anselone, the name of the hotel — Godfrey — means “peace and welcome,” and the rooms are designed to be an oasis within the hustle of city life.

The construction site is in an extremely busy neighborhood, which makes safety for the pedestrians the No. 1 rule. Tishman Construction, an AECOM company, is serving as the project’s construction manager and has been organizing all day-to-day construction activities. “Tishman has successfully executed numerous complex adaptive reuse and renovation projects throughout the Boston area, and we’re proud to be part of the team realizing the historic Godfrey Hotel project,” said Tom Erickson, executive vice president overseeing the New England region for Tishman. “Working in the core of Downtown Crossing, one of the city’s busiest daytime neighborhoods and residential communities, we have collaborated with an outstanding project team to manage the logistical construction challenges and bring this Oxford Capital Group development to life.”

The new hotel will open its doors to guests this fall, giving Downtown Crossing a transformation that will give business owners, residents, and tourists a chance to appreciate this neighborhood in a new “old” way.

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