Preservation Magazine, Summer 2016

First Look: Retail Therapy at Filene's in Boston

Shoppers in downtown Boston found an elegant, updated retail experience when the flagship store and headquarters for Filene’s Department Store opened in 1912. The eight-story, Beaux Arts-style building was the final design of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who died months before its completion.

After Filene’s merged with Macy’s in 2006, the building was vacated, and its next owners gutted the interior. Developer Millennium Partners took over in 2012 and hired New York–based Handel Architects and Building Conservation Associates to restore the National Register–listed building. The team reinforced the steel frame; added modernized systems; converted upper floors into office space; restored the terra-cotta facade; and re-created the original cast-iron and glass canopies, which had been removed during a 1960s renovation.

“Burnham’s design was so beautifully conceived,” says Blake Middleton, partner at Handel Architects. “We had to make some concessions to contemporary reality, but not in a way that would detract from his original design.”

The building reopened last summer as a mixed-use office and retail complex. Tenants include a clothing store, a specialty grocery store, and an advertising and creative agency.

Filene's Department Store in Boston

photo by: Bruce T. Martin

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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