Government Services Center Life Safety Retrofit

Boston’s Government Services Center was designed by well-known Brutalist architect Paul Rudolph and constructed between 1969-1972. The GSC consists of the conjoined Hurley Building and the Lindemann Mental Health Center. The two cast-in-place concrete buildings share a common plaza over a two-level parking garage. From its opening, the plaza has had a variety of maintenance and life safety issues leading to the installation of chain-link fences around large lightwells connecting the plaza and garage below. The temporary fences have been in place for literally decades. In 2018, Massachusetts' Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) initiated a life safety project to upgrade the hazardous parts of the plaza to meet modern building codes. The upgrades included the installation of 2000 linear feet of guardrails at the undulating concrete lightwells and benches overlooking the garage deck. The challenge was finding an economically repetitive solution that would work with a wide variety of existing conditions while harmonizing with these iconic buildings. The guardrail solution was a series of steel plates cantilevered off the concrete walls. The panels are curved, custom laser-cut steel panels patterned to play off Paul Rudolph’s original bush-hammered concrete facades, with their play of light and textures. The panels are painted to complement existing bronze elements, allowing them to visually recede.