Upward Momentum

321 Harrison Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts

Known for its restaurants and theaters, as well as its architecture and public spaces, Boston’s South End enjoys a rich cultural legacy and has always maintained a distinct personality within the context of the City. And given its proximity to both Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike, its accessibility has made it an attractive spot for developers seeking to capitalize on real estate opportunities. New construction and adaptive reuse have fueled what has amounted to a renaissance for the neighborhood, emblematic of the continued growth of Boston as a whole.

Nordblom Company owns 1000 Washington Street, an 11-story office building situated at the epicenter of the South End’s urban revival, as well as 321 Harrison Avenue, an adjacent three-level parking garage. Enlisting the help of SMMA, Nordblom sought to reimagine that garage structure and explore possibilities for maximizing its potential and contributing to the upward trend of its surroundings. 

Enjoy a virtual tour of the space here.

Working with real estate-services provider CBRE/New England, SMMA produced this marketing spot, to showcase the potential that 321 Harrison Avenue holds for the right tenant. The video also exemplifies a growing portfolio of design offerings from the firm's Graphic Design team, supporting SMMA's position as a truly full-service client partner.

An 18-Hour Neighborhood

In the early to mid-1900s, this corner of the South End was known as the New York Streets district due to its throughways being named after cities along the now-defunct Boston and Albany Railroad route. During the 1950s, a large urban renewal project resulted in the demolition of most of the blocks. Recently, the area has been home to the Boston Herald and Teradyne, as well as the former Washington Street Elevated segment of the MBTA’s Orange Line. The construction of the Ink Block, Whole Foods, and other residences, restaurants, and shopping options has triggered a wave of development that will transform the area into an 18-hour neighborhood—one that promotes a mixed use of activity, 18 hours per day, seven days per week.

Aerial shot of 321 Harrison block development.
321 Harrison Avenue Boston South End Office Building Rendering

Eminently Walkable

SMMA conceptualized the new 321 Harrison Avenue building to activate the street level as much as possible, keeping scale and the pedestrian experience at the forefront of its design considerations. The site aims to create a walkable urban experience that extends into the surrounding neighborhood. The length of Harrison Avenue will be redesigned as a much-needed linear park, and will include a wide public sidewalk, bike lanes, and semicircular raised lawn, as well as a variety of outdoor seating options. A new 2,500-square-foot retail component will create a backdrop to this new public space.

Interior corridor of 321 Harrison Avenue walkway.

Defining the Through-Block Connection

An important part of the project’s identity depends on the new mid-block lobby connecting Washington St. and Harrison Ave. Following an urban strategy set forth in the Harrison Albany Corridor Strategic Plan, SMMA carved a two-story lobby space directly between existing 1000 Washington and the new 321 Harrison tower. This new spacious volume provides access to elevator banks in each structure and a common point of gathering for tenants of each building.

Each end of the lobby is flanked by welcoming landscaped plazas designed to guide guests into the space. The look and feel of the lobby is inspired by the eclectic mix that is the South End: It combines tailored and timeless design elements with the creative spirit of startup. It’s a passage between streets, a link between buildings, and an appropriate front door to a contemporary, urban office complex.


Shifting the Core

Typically, mid-rise office buildings have central cores that divide floors into two sides. Working closely with Nordblom, and with a deep understanding of the site’s unique challenges in mind, SMMA developed an innovative offset core that allows for uninterrupted floor plates.

For tenants, this will provide the flexibility to imagine and create a connected workplace. Shifting the core also reinforces a connection to the City, maximizing vantages of Downtown Boston and mitigating obstructed views toward the existing building.

321 Harrison Avenue floor plan, shifting the central core.

The façade features a highly visible, pleated curtainwall that subtly nods to the building’s address—the Roman numerals III II I—and coaxes depth out of a north-facing exterior.

  • 321 Harrison Avenue Boston South End Office Building Mass Pike Curtainwall


Future Amenity Spaces

By its completion, 321 Harrison will boast of a variety of amenity spaces. These include, but are not limited to:

  • New Park along Washington St.
  • Park-facing retail space on Washington St.
  • Bike storage
  • Multipurpose Lounge
  • Large roof deck with downtown views
  • Fitness center & locker rooms
  • Game Room
  • Reactivation of Harrison Ave. with new café space
  • 11th floor tenant balconies with sweeping views


321 Harrison Avenue amenity space.