Winchester, MA – Allen & Major Associates, Inc. (A&M) was recognized by The American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC MA) with the 2014 Bronze Award honoring outstanding professional design excellence for their work on 620 Washington Street in Winchester, MA. Developed in partnership with Winchester Hospital, DiGiorgio Associates, Inc., and Steffian Bradley who served as project architects, 620 Washington Street is an advanced clinical care campus that includes the Center for Cancer Care, the Ambulatory Surgery Center and the Center for Cancer Care Healing Garden.
Located on a major thoroughfare, 620 Washington Street is considered one of the gate-way properties to Winchester. During the 1900’s, the property was used by the James H. Winn Watch Hand factory to manufacture luminescent dials. Even earlier, the property was used by the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission, now known as the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), to route major sewer trunk lines. Each of the historic uses left their mark on the property for the betterment as well as the detriment of the surrounding community and environment. The purchased land was encumbered with numerous constraints including three large diameter MWRA sewer-trunk lines, a 100–year floodplain associated with the Aberjona River, contaminated soils, and a century old building with historical significance to the community of Winchester.
The first phase of this multi-million dollar project was the Center for Cancer Care. The initial site work involved demolishing an abandoned industrial building that was attached to the historic portion of the Winn Watch Factory building. The remaining historic building façade was restored and the interior was renovated and incorporated as a wing to the new 44,247 square foot main Center. The Center was designed according to LEED for Healthcare and was awarded LEED Gold certification upon completion.
The Ambulatory Surgery Center was completed as phase two and was considered the most challenging for the development team. This phase required innovative thinking and approaches to both new and existing techniques. The parcel was bi-sected by three active, large diameter MWRA sewer trunklines. A&M worked closely with the MWRA to avoid impacts to the trunklines and made provisions to the design for the maintenance needs of these utilities which includes a deep foundation wall that was engineered by A&M’s Structural Division. The deep foundation wall ensures the building stability in the event that the MWRA sewer had to be reconstructed. The subsurface soil conditions were unknown and required a detailed investigation. Historic records show that the River at one point ran through the site prior to being redirected to its current location. Over the years arsenic and lead had traveled downstream from the Woburn tanneries and contaminated the soils, prompting a Brownfields remediation of the area. As the project progressed, numerous soil borings and monitoring wells with data loggers were provided in order to establish the groundwater elevations across the site. Several groundwater mounding tests were performed in order to determine the transmissivity of the underlying soils.
Because of the existing flooding problems associated with the Aberjona River, all of the stormwater up to and including the 100-year event was required to remain on-site; the approach was to recharge the stormwater runoff to the groundwater. The solution involved several cost effective and innovative stormwater management applications including applying the use of pervious pavement on all parking areas. The pervious pavement provides both water quality treatment and stormwater recharge to the ground.
The final phase of the project was the creation of the Healing Garden. The garden was the vision of Dr. Arlan Fuller Jr., MD, Clinical Vice President for the Integration of Oncology Services and Academic Affiliations at Winchester Hospital. Dr. Fuller helped to formulate the hospital’s overall vision of developing a community-based center that would support its patients in every possible way. With Dr. Fuller’s vision in mind, the design team met weekly with the oncology group and the hospital administration to fully understand the goals and objectives for the garden as well as the medical considerations the design team had to meet in order for it to be fully accessible to all patients at all levels of treatment.
The concept was to create a space that incorporates the use of sensory stimulus such as sight, smell, touch and sound while a four season approach would provide visual interest year round. However, before the concept could even go from pen to paper, a plan needed to be formulated to mitigate the environmental complexities of the existing site including that the area that the garden was to occupy was part of the Brownfield’s remediation was completed during the Center’s development. It was also on the portion of the site closest to the banks of the Aberjona River placing it within a wetland resource area, Bordering Land Subject to Flooding (BLSF) and Riverfront Area (RA). Multiple design iterations were drafted by the design team and analyzed in order to minimize any filling of the floodplain and create a natural vegetative buffer to protect the critical riverfront corridor. The plans included maintaining every existing tree along the riverbank.
The overall design intent was to provide a space that appealed to various types of healing personalities and encompasses as many of the paths and places that patients would most desire on their journey to health. For patients who are drawn to water, a fountain was installed as the focal point of the garden. Crafted from large, hand selected pieces of granite stacked on a bed of river stone, the sound of moving water helps to eliminate any extraneous noises and provide an overall sense of calm and wellbeing. For patients who envision their illness as a mountain that must be climbed, granite piers chosen for their mountain like shapes, rise from the peripheral edges of the garden and cast movable shadows as the day wanes. To complement the sizable natural granite pieces, teak trellises were installed for shaded seating utilizing aluminum posts to compliment the building architecture. Laser engraved granite benches line the walkways and winter labyrinth and share the names of loved ones.
Strategic plantings were essential to completing the seasonal vision and incorporated mass plantings of simple native and adaptive plant materials that would withstand the harsh winters with minimal decline. An eclectic mix of spring and summer staples including lavender, bitter root, spurge and salvia fill the center of the garden. Stone planters line the ADA ramps and provide wheelchair height tactile elements while miscanthus, birch, pine and fir contribute to the peripheral plantings. Boxwood and red twig dogwoods call the labyrinth home and keep the winter scenery colorful and textural. Unity, balance, rhythm and movement allow every part of the garden to fit harmoniously into a whole. The collaborative vision of Dr. Fuller and the design team was fully realized in November of 2013 when the garden was opened to its first visitors. It has been received as one of the most valued portions of the new Center.