Screen, Building 39

athenahealth, Inc.

Watertown, MA  USA

Client: athenahealth, Inc.

Scope: A custom perforated metal screen conceals a temporary warehouse while also providing a dynamic point of entry.

The historic buildings that comprise athenahealth’s international headquarters include Building 39: a six-story former factory constructed in 1922. As part of the overall renovation of the brick structure, Charles Rose Architects relocated Building 39’s primary entrance, reorienting it towards the campus’s largest most populated building. The new entry is composed of a dynamic lightweight metal screen which creates a focal point along the façade and conceals an unattractive 1990s warehouse addition.

The perforated metal screen is a series of thin powder-coated aluminum panels mounted to a lightweight steel tube structure. The design emphasizes the oblique direction of movement from east to west between the two historic brick buildings. As one moves towards the screen the perforated image changes subtly. The pattern extends continuously from end to end due to the carefully calculated folds in its form and arrangement of holes. Each individual perforation borrows its shape from the iconic “leaf” of athenahealth’s logo, but from a distance, the perforations create a realistic graphic of foliage—conveying the company’s ethos of environmental consciousness and sustainability. In the evening, the illuminated screen produces a lantern-like effect that enlivens the busy circulation corridor, especially during the winter and early spring when sunsets arrive as early as 4:00 pm. 

Structural Engineer: RSE Associates
Lighting Designer: Lam Partners
Fabricator: Paquette Associates
General Contractor: GenCon