Mike DelleFave

Mike DelleFave

Boston, MA, US


Savin Hill Flats

The Flats on Savin is a 14-unit mixed use residential and commercial project in the Savin Hill Neighborhood of Dorchester.  The project presented a collection of difficult design challenges.  The first of which is that it built over an existing one story brick building, and in an existing adjacent lot “The Hole”.  It is also situated directly next to a major highway and rail line, along with a neighborhood center, and residential streets.  Lastly, it has a strong presence along Savin Hill avenue at “The Bridge”, which is a major neighborhood threshold between the two parts of Savin hill.

The challenge of in dealing with the existing building is both highly complicated in its construction, and its architectural expression.  The new building spans up and over the existing building, and only touches at building joints, as the existing structure is not strong enough to support the additional floors.   “Marrying” the old and new in a simple cohesive design is always a difficult task.  In this case, we choose to allow the brick structure to act a base for a clean floating “residential bar.”  This presents the understanding it is clearly an addition, and both architectural languages can live together.

While situated on both the highway and on a local corner the project needed to address both scales.  This achieved with “big” architectural moves and then fine clean detailing.   The building reads from the highway as two floating volumes, broken by balconies, that look out over the road.  The window scale, trim detailing, and material patterning address the residential scale.   The patterns are larger on the commercial side, and smaller at the residential context.

Lastly, “The Bridge” allows for unobstructed vistas of the building while approaching it from both directions of the street.   In order to further emphasize the idea that the building is at a threshold, the residential floating-bar is split into two smaller pieces with a balcony, and then eroded at the corners to suggest a special moment in the experience.

From the conception through the execution of the project, the building is created through a series of these reactions to the existing contextual challenges.   Because of this, the result is a building that is like nothing else in the city, and fills a decade long void at the neighborhood scale.      

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Status: Under Construction
Location: Dorchester, MA, US
My Role: Project Architect / Project Designer
Additional Credits: RODE Architects

View from corner
View from corner
View from Bridge approach
View from Bridge approach