Charlestown Battalion Armory Permanent Exhibition Space

Submitted by Anda French

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Client: C-Town Ventures

Location: Boston, MA, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $120,000

Project Team

Industry Resource

Robert Freeman

Robert Freeman Woodworking

Interior Designer

Anda and Jenny French

French 2D

Overview

The Armory Museum is a Permanent Exhibition Space at the center of the residential adaptive reuse of the Charlestown Battalion Armory, completed in 2016. Our work included the planning, interior architecture and design, graphics, furniture design, signage and exhibition copy for the Armory Museum in the 3500 SF Armory atrium at the heart of the 105,000 sf Residential building. Materials: Shaw, Chok Loom in two colors; Wallpaper: Custom Printed Textile Wallcovering; Display Cases: Walnut Veneer and Acrylic; Benches: Reclaimed Wood and Steel; Signage: Back Painted Acrylic; Display models: translucent acrylic

Goals

The brief was a vital piece of the then Boston Redevelopment Authority’s requirement in their original RFP for the building: the adaptive reuse of the 1907 Charlestown Battalion Armory was required to include a museum honoring the history of the 182nd regiment’s occupation of the building. As we uncovered the sources of historical images and information, we realized that the building’s fascinating site and history of multiple uses under one large multistory shed structure needed to be kept alive within the new residential use. This building had served so many people in the community and it needed to continue to reflect its many vital purposes. The atrium is carved at the center of this and serves as the heart of the building and its history. The custom benches are made from reclaimed wood from the building itself, while photographs of the structure during the reconstruction and "ghost models" depicting its use as a parade ground and as a book depository serve as the design elements within the space. The graphics along the walls trace the history of the site through its hundred plus years, in prints of antique insurance maps of the surrounding area.

Process

Our work was coordinated with the building architect and owner from the outset of the project, allowing us to work together to set the material tone for the larger project through the planning of the central atrium museum. Images and History were sourced through visits and long conversations with the National Guard Historian in Concord, MA. Maps were sourced with help from the Librarians for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Collection at the Boston Public Library. A local Charlestown woodworker built the display cases and benches to our designs, and custom made steel legs for the bench were a collaboration with a company in Canada.