This week, Regency's The Abbot in Cambridge, MA was selected by the Cambridge Historical Commission to receive a 2022 Preservation Award. Initiated in 1997, the award program honors property owners who conserve and protect the city's architecture.
This iconic and beloved collection of buildings, The Abbot Buildings, is the centerpiece of historic Harvard Square. The buildings, at 60,000 SF in total, required extensive rehabilitation to restore their historic character and bring them up to modern day safety and accessibility requirements. The renovation needed to meet the standards of modern retail, restaurant and office space while enhancing the experience of Harvard Square.
Regency Centers partnered with PCA to restore and modernize this gem. The design revitalizes the two historic buildings (built in 1894 and 1909) to their original condition and adds a third building between them that is compatible in material, scale and design, yet is clearly modern. Together, the three connected buildings provide space for retail, restaurants and offices to thrive. A variety of active ground floor tenants further enliven the sidewalk experience of Harvard Square. In addition, restoration of the brick walkway on Brattle Street creates a safe and enjoyable pedestrian experience. On the 4th floor, an added roof deck creates space to enjoy views of both Harvard and Brattle Square.
Different design approaches taken for each of the three buildings ensure the most positive outcomes. The Abbot Building, which anchors the corner of the site and faces directly into Harvard Square, receives restoration of its original curved glass entry, the original window configuration and detailing. The memorable “Dewey, Cheetham & Howe” sign from NPR’s Car Talk is preserved on a third floor window. The new center building complements its historic neighbors while meeting the needs of modern retail, restaurant and office tenants with tall ceilings, abundant natural light and fantastic views from the 4th floor pavilion. The remaining building, 18 Brattle Street, is restored to its original character. The building’s iconic curved glass storefront, built in the 1980s, remains as a reference to the various iterations of the building.
As a Cambridge-based member of the Harvard Square Business Association, PCA brought an understanding of the need to enhance the unique experience that defines Harvard Square. PCA and Regency Centers listened carefully to the Cambridge community, planning department and Historical Commission to achieve a design that is both elegant and responsive to its context.
From day one we’ve talked about our commitment to not only the redevelopment of this property, but to the historic restoration of it," said Sam Stiebel, Vice President, Investments, Regency Centers. "The Abbot is an important part of this community’s legacy, and we are honored by the recognition of Regency’s efforts to help restore an important landmark in Harvard Square.