Farwell: Read Block, Cambridge Savings Bank
This 40,000 sf restoration project received a preservation award from the City of Cambridge and an AIA New England Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture.
The Cambridge Savings Bank Headquarters and Farwell-Read Block are an assemblage of historic buildings in the heart of Harvard Square. Renovation involved working with four structures: the bank’s original 1874 headquarters, a classical revival building on Dunster Street; the newer 1920 headquarters fronting directly on Massachusetts Avenue with the iconic neon sign and digital clock; the Farwell-Read Block, three wood buildings which round the corner, united in 1896 behind a common façade; and a brick building from 1820 facing on JFK Street that had been given an historically inappropriate cladding.
The renovation maintained the unified façade of the buildings while the 1820 building on JFK Street was restored to its original appearance. On Dunster Street, a simple but elegant glass bridge structure unites the two CSB buildings. The curving Farwell-Read façade had the potential to be historically accurate and ideal for multi-level retail opportunities. It was decided to renovate the façade to its unified 1896 appearance, including original paint color and wooden trim profiles.
The restored Farwell-Read Block combines the benefit of an iconic corporate headquarters, civic and historic responsibility and rental income to the bank within the beauty of the now-historically accurate façade. It also provides valuable office space in an area of Cambridge that was rapidly losing square footage to development. The street level of the Farwell-Read block accommodates retail and dining options previously unavailable, and even converts what was once a small alley into a vibrant urban space.