Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge, 1889
Cambridge Seven Associates, renovation, 2008
National Register of Historic Places
Preservation Achievement Award, 2010
The massive solid appearance of the Ames building is a reflection of its masonry bearing wall construction, nine feet thick at the base and decreasing as it rises. It is the second-tallest such structure in the world, and for several years it dominated the Boston skyline. The Romanesque revival motifs made famous by H.H. Richardson cover the façade of this building, carried out by his successors Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge after Richardson's death in 1886. Three three-story Romanesque arches organize the lower stories, which form a base for the upper levels. The middle five stories are unified by four arches that have no relation to the rhythm of the large arches below. The top two stories form a massive cornice, with a string of arched windows that almost create the effect of corbelling.
The building served as the home office for the Shepley firm for almost a century, until 1982. In 2007, it was transformed into a boutique hotel. Respecting the historic character of the building, the project included skillful restoration of the exterior masonry façade, window surrounds and moldings, and careful restoration of the lobby's vaulted mosaic-tiled ceiling.
Reflecting the rapid transformation of the city and urgent need for student housing, Suffolk University acquired the Ames Building in 2019, and will put it to use as a dormitory.