Bruner/Cott Completes ‘The Speedway’ in Brighton, MA

Bruner/Cott Architects Completes “The Speedway”

An Historic 1899 Horse and Bicycle Racing Complex is Revived for New Uses


Boston, MA (January 27, 2022) – Known for innovative restorations and rehabilitations of historic buildings, Bruner/Cott recently completed The Speedway, a mixed-use transformation of a 19th-century trotting horse stable and metropolitan park police station and jail on the Charles River. A Boston Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the firm worked alongside the not-for-profit developer, Architectural Heritage Foundation (AHF), to preserve and revitalize the renowned but endangered complex to stimulate community growth and economic development.

Constructed in 1899 by the Metropolitan Park Commission as a headquarters to support a new parkway along the river, the development turned a stretch of tidal mudflats into an interconnected series of public parks. The stables and park offices supported a race track beside the river for bicycle and trotting races. The picturesque overall composition is characteristic of its architect William D. Austin’s work for the Metropolitan Parks Commission—an irregular roofline connects six shingle-style buildings, creating a single-story courtyard, highlighted by arched gable entrances, porches, double hung windows, and elaborate wood trim. The mile-long racetrack became one of the city’s most popular gathering areas. Now, as a new gateway to the Allston-Brighton neighborhood, the complex supports a diverse tenant mix including small retail shops and soon-to-open food vendors, a publicly-accessible community courtyard, a flexible event space at Garage B, and anchor tenant Notch Brewing’s biergarten and brewery.

Following the Park Commission’s tenancy, the facility housed the now-defunct Metropolitan District Commission Police. During this time, many of its original horse stables were extended and converted into vehicular garages to support the agency. Beginning in 2005, the facility was largely abandoned. Portions of the buildings were beginning to decay, and one section suffered a serious fire. The Bruner/Cott and AHF Speedway project has preserved a local recreational treasure and given the park a new life for generations to come. Bruner/Cott’s design approach to preservation included removal of piecemeal garage extensions at historic stable frontages and the reconstruction of lost features including wooden carriage access, sliding barn doors, and an extensive series of carefully  restored and replicated windows. Original building entrances within the sloping site placed doors at different levels, and a new raised platform for performers united these via an unobtrusive wooden ramp. Interior plaster was so damaged by fire and rain that it was removed entirely to add insulation. Fieldstone foundations were reinforced with concrete and repointed. Stables and a 1940 concrete garage were fitted with recessive glazed fronts and overhead doors to make strong connections to outdoor gathering spaces, especially the tranquil interior of the upper courtyard.

Long-considered too complicated and limited in square footage for an economically sustainable rehabilitation, AHF pioneered new approaches to retail tenancy, events space management, and adjacencies among occupants to reintroduce life into the Allston-Brighton community via long abandoned stables, jail, basement cow barn, and garages. The buildings look like they did in 1899, 1904, 1920, and 1920. The new occupants do not.


Photography credit: MASS DCR (left), D.F. Pray General Contractors (center, right)

Release issued by Pickrel Communications, Inc. on January 27, 2022.

Bruner/Cott Completes Frost Terrace in Cambridge, MA


New Construction and a Restored 19th Century House Anchor Affordable Housing in Porter Square

Known for residential design in new construction, restoration/renovation, and industrial conversions, Bruner/Cott Architects announces the completion of Frost Terrace, a 100 percent affordable housing apartment community at 1791 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge’s Porter Square. Achieved in partnership with Capstone Communities and Hope Real Estate Enterprises, the complex is in a desirable, transit-oriented neighborhood facing an extreme shortage of such housing. It provides 40 families and individuals with long-term rental options.

Directly adjacent to the firm’s Lesley University Lunder Arts Center on Massachusetts Avenue, Frost Terrace comprises three extant buildings—1 and 2 Frost Terrace, plus a contextual modern addition that balances the overall composition. The William Frost house, built in the late 1800s, was preserved, transformed, and expanded at the rear of the complex to provide additional living quarters. Formerly surrounded by similar houses and the North Avenue Congregational Church (moved to its site from Kirkland Street near Harvard Square in 1867 and is now the Lunder Arts library), the Frost house is the last of its kind on the block, providing continuous historical context.

Designed with light and air in mind, twenty-six of Frost Terrace’s 40 units are generous 2-to-3-bedrooms. Thirteen one-bedroom and one studio unit complete the mix. Reserved for households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), with four units reserved for households earning less than 50% of AMI and four units reserved for households earning less than 30% AMI, the complex received over 900 applications during its initial leasing.

A transit-oriented development that prioritizes space for people over motor vehicles on the site, Frost Terrace offers immediate proximity to the MBTA, bike lanes, and essential community services, as well as 44 secure bike parking spaces. Three parking spaces are provided for residents with disabilities.

Sustainable design strategies include LEED Gold certification aspirations for multi-family mid-rise. Environmental interventions include the installation of solar panels, stormwater management, tree preservation, and energy efficient equipment, complemented by landscaping and paving improvements that created accessible community space.

“Rooted in community building, new contextual architecture, and historic preservation, Frost Terrace’s sustainable design aligns with current principles of affordable housing—prioritizing mobility, lowering utility costs, conserving resources, and creating healthy living environments,” says Principal-in-Charge Jason Forney. “Our goal was to respect and renew the venerable aspects of the site and its structures while delivering environmentally responsible housing for today and tomorrow.”

The Frost Terrace project was made possible by an affordable rental housing award announced by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on July 25, 2018, which provided $57 million in direct subsidies for 19 high-impact projects throughout the state. Additional funding was derived from Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and subsidy funds via the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and funds through the City of Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust.


Photos here

Photography Credit: Robert Benson Photography