Winthrop Square: Creating Next-Generation Sustainable Design

The proposed Winthrop Square tower in downtown Boston is poised to set new sustainable design standards for tall buildings. 

The proposed Winthrop Square tower in downtown Boston is poised to set new sustainable design standards for tall buildings.

Winthrop SquareCurrently in the design stage, the project calls for redevelopment of a 1.6 million-square-foot underused midblock acre of city-owned downtown property, developing it into a vibrant mixed-use community containing 420 residential units, office, retail, restaurant, parking and other commercial uses. At a height of 691 feet, it would become Boston’s third tallest building and will give new definition and vitality to an important urban space.

Winthrop Square will be a next-generation building that rethinks how cutting-edge urban research, architecture, design, technology, sustainability and engineering are executed against the human paradigms of productivity, wellness and social engagement—all with the goal of enhancing the urban human experience. It will be an extraordinary advancement on the mixed-use building form, which has become a paradigm for successful urban revitalization in historic city centers.

WSP is leading the mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP) design and the sustainable design for the $1.35 billion-dollar development project on behalf of the developer, Millennium Partners (MP Boston).

It is the largest private investment for a single project in Boston. It will create a dynamic presence on both the skyline and at the pedestrian level and set new standards for workplace efficiency, adaptability, environmental sustainability and wellness.

Platinum Design

Multiple environmental and sustainable objectives are being set for the Winthrop Square tower.

In addition to using Passive House goals—where a building minimizes energy use through ultra-tight infiltration design and construction—the tower will be designed to qualify for Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, Gold certification from the WELL Building Institute, and become the world’s largest certified ultra-low energy “Passive House” spec office building.

Winthrop SquareIn accordance with LEED Platinum and Passive House parameters, Winthrop Square will save precious resources through its use of innovative design and technology. Its state-of-the-art systems will reduce water use by 40 percent, saving 1.8 million gallons of water per year – enough to fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools.

These savings will be achieved by re-treating and reusing grey water for toilets, growing a self-sustaining green vegetable roof to decrease and filter storm water runoff, reducing heat island effect and increasing biodiversity. Winthrop Square will also maximize the reach of natural light into floor plates, lowering daytime lighting demand.

WSP has worked to create genuine innovation around the tight envelope of this building, highly dynamic controls for the HVAC, as well as aural and visual interior architecture that creates a connection to the improved indoor air quality and water quality that we are providing for the space. MP Boston has grounded the life cycle analysis for this project in understanding the benefits of a genuinely sustainable design for its future tenants.

The developer is committed to establishing Winthrop Square as a case study for setting sustainability standards for developer-based multi-use projects—an objective that was realized in April with a joint presentation by WSP and MP Boston at the Getting to Zero National Forum in Pittsburgh.

The presentation, “How Developers can “Create an Environment of Inspiration” explored the challenges of building a high-rise office building in Boston’s downtown center, including legislative requirements, engineering geometry, aesthetics and architectural elements.

The plans for Winthrop Square show that even a dense, tall urban building can demonstrate the principles that reduce carbon consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

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