321 Harrison: South End’s Striking New Lab Development


321 Harrison Avenue is an eight-story lab and office building set atop a three-level parking garage and ground-level retail area. Situated in Boston’s historic South End, the building is tailored to meet the lab-office needs of leading-edge life science and biotech companies. 

Designed by SMMA, the structure is inspired by its surroundings and the cultural legacy of the South End, known for its emphasis of the arts, architecture, and public spaces. The facade is striking and symbolic, featuring a pleated, light-reflecting curtainwall that changes in appearance based on location and time of day. Dynamic light reflection reveals columns of glazing that form the Roman numerals III II I, a nod to the building's address.



A notable element is a mural spanning a 23-foot-high and 60-foot-long wall, featuring artwork by local artist, Nedret Andre, whose studio is just blocks away. The colorful piece adds excitement to the entrance, representing Boston’s rich history and evolving geography.



Originally designed as an office building, new owners challenged SMMA to reimagine 321 Harrison for lab use. This included: 

  • Reinforcing the building’s floor structure for greater vibration resistance and load capacity.  
  • Drastically increasing the amount of conditioned air with a robust HVAC system to serve the laboratories.  
  • Designing flexible, reconfigurable lab-office layouts.



Embracing the energetic urban location, additional features include: 

  • An innovative offset core allowing for uninterrupted floorplates, maximizing views of downtown Boston.  
  • A roof deck with city views and an entry court with a dining terrace. 




Continue reading to learn more about the 321 Harrison Ave project.