Building 39 Entry Screen, athenahealth, Inc.

Watertown, MA

Client: athenahealth, Inc.

Scope: A custom perforated metal screen conceals a temporary warehouse while also providing a dynamic point of entry.

The historic buildings comprising athenahealth’s international headquarters—a 29-acre campus located at the Arsenal on the Charles—includes Building 39, a six-story brick factory constructed in 1922.  As part of the overall renovation, and to create a stronger connection to the existing campus, Charles Rose Architects relocated the primary entry to face Building 311; the largest and most populated structure on the Arsenal campus.

The design of a lightweight perforated metal screen masks the warehouse façade, while also providing a clear entry point. The screen is composed of thin powder-coated aluminum panels fastened to a lightweight steel tube structure.  The design approach emphasizes the oblique direction of movement from east to west along the warehouse façade. To highlight this sense of movement and connection, the visual composition of the screen changes subtly, but continuously, as the visitor moves towards it.

The screen perforations create a large-scale graphic representing foliage, inspired by the athenahealth “leaf” logo, and by the company’s environmentally-centered ethos. By night, the illuminated screen creates a lantern-like effect that enlivens a formerly imposing façade.

Structural Engineer: RSE Associates
Lighting Designer: Lam Partners
Fabricator: Paquette Associates
General Contractor: GenCon