Atlantic Wharf / Russia Wharf

Atlantic Wharf

Peabody and Stearns, Russia Building,1899

Renovated 1980

Childs Bertman Tseckares, tower addition, 2011

Preservation Achievement Award, 2011

Three late-nineteenth-century seven-story buildings occupy the former site of Russia Wharf: the Russia Building, the Graphic Arts and the Tufts Buildings.

In the eighteenth century Massachusetts traded with Russia, primarily through the port of St. Petersburg. Though the clipper ships thronging the port flew their American flags, many carried Russian names: Volga, Czarina, Cronstadt, Petersburg, Peterhof, Tsar, Ladoga, and Strelna. Quills for pens, candles, soap, sailcloth, hemp for the rope makers, and tar from Smolny Dvor landed at Russia Wharf; it is said that the founding fathers used Russian quills to sign their revolutionary documents, and that the U.S.S. Constitution relied on many Russian raw materials for its construction. So active was the trading relationship that Russia’s first embassy in the United States was established in Boston in 1809.

Salvaging these structures from a state of deep disrepair, the new Atlantic Wharf incorporated the façades and other important architectural elements of these historic buildings into a modern, thirty-one-story skyscraper, which contains offices, residential units, and retail space. With substantial setbacks, the new tower allows quality breathing room for the older structures to read well from the street, featuring original storefronts, complete with limestone and cast iron. The exterior has been completely refurbished, including the repair of crumbling brick and rebuilding neglected lanterns. Nelson Court, a passageway connecting the Russia and Graphic Arts Buildings, is now a glass atrium that serves as an entryway into the skyscraper, bringing a bold vibrant new energy to the site.

Source: Boston Preservation Alliance