City Hall Annex CAMBRIDGE, MA
The Annex had undergone a major renovation in 2004 and received LEED-Gold certification. However, the building systems never performed to expectations, failing to achieve the projected energy use reductions. As part of a larger Municipal Facilities Improvement Plan, the City asked the design team to assess the building envelope, mechanical systems, and accessibility. The team concluded that the building systems were underperforming due to excessive air infiltration attributable to poorly installed replacement windows and need for masonry repointing. This in turn caused the partial failure of the geothermal system. The building had significant accessibility issues at the main entrance, Traffic, Parking & Transportation Department transaction counter, and poor wayfinding in the public spaces.
The team addressed the accessibility and wayfinding issues through a comprehensive redesign of the entrance landscape, wholly new transaction area, and by creating a template for wayfinding signage. These projects required multiple meetings with all the building departments, the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Historic Commission, and neighborhood associations. We worked closely with the Institute for Human Centered Design to identify areas of improvement and on finalizing the design solutions. Features include staff height adjustable desks, an oblong speaking opening in the windows (allowing for seated to standing transactions), lighting for enhanced facial recognition (for those hard of hearing or deaf), visual cues for when a window is open, and high contrast signage with an upper and lower case sans serif font (for enhanced legibility). Ultimately, the work also included a repair plan for the windows, reorganizing the Traffic, Parking & Transportation Offices, security hardware improvements, interior finish upgrades, and a new boiler.