Tensile Pavilion in Boston
by Andrew Formichella
In 1997, when the Boston Harborlights (BHL) Amphitheater faced imminent closure, those planning its replacement were sure they wanted another tent structure to house Boston's waterfront summer concert series.
BHL management and Boston-based music promoter, The Don Law Company (DLC), wanted a new facility that, like the old one, would give a feeling of being outdoors, with spectacular views of Boston Harbor, while still providing protection from the elements.
They wanted a fabric roof for a clear reference to the locally popular pastime of sailing. A fabric roof would also provide desirable natural light for daytime performances and the opportunity for dramatic architectural lighting at night.
When they came to us at A.Form Architecture to design the pavilion, they had found a site in the Marine Industrial Park in South Boston. The park owner, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, was targeting the area for long-term, mixed-use redevelopment and agreed the new pavilion would make a perfect anchor for the area.
The Design Program
The pavilion was to accommodate an audience of 5,200, and the stage house would need to attract world class performers. We worked closely with the staff of the original amphitheater, from the performance production manager to the concessionaire, to determine what had worked well and what could be improved in the new facility.
Programmatic analysis led to a preliminary scheme for the pavilion with a tensile fabric roof, three internal masts, and a fan-shaped seating arrangement.
The FleetBoston Pavilion is home to Boston's summer concert series.
Photo: David Woodin
The saddle-shaped roof over the seating area is acoustically "friendly"; only the back sloping portion needed acoustical augmentation.
Photo: David Burke/A.Form Architecture
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