When this 130 year-old landmark came to our attention in 2012, it had been abandoned for many years and a recent fire had exposed the interiors to such extensive water damage that nearly everything had been destroyed, down to the brick.
We approached the renovation of 660 Congress as a ‘ship-in-a-bottle,’ meticulously preserving the historic facade and fenestration details and rebuilding anew within the existing brick walls. The entire structure was re-engineered to provide open apartment layouts and a column-free commercial space.
In the design of the apartments, we returned to the historical facade, tracing the silhouette of the mansard roof with gently curving walls. At the third floor ceiling, the expansive volume of the roof is revealed with dramatic coffers that bring light into the spaces through skylights and hidden architectural lighting.
In other areas, fragments of history were left untouched, like arched doorways, fireplaces, original brickwork, and fire escapes that were converted to balconies for the apartments. The new residential entrance features a blackened steel stair with solid white oak treads, fabricated by a local Maine welder. The thin industrial lines of the steel balusters continue along the stair for three stories, casting shadows from the overhead skylights onto the space’s exposed historic brick. Everywhere, there are high quality materials and building methods that reinforce the ambitions of the renovation.
Program: Historical Preservation, Residential, Commercial
Client: A.K. Longfellow
Collaborators: Bayhill Building (Contractor), Engineering Design Professionals (Structural Engineer), Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Greater Portland Landmarks
Team: Andre Guimond, Evan Erlebacher, Harry Lam, Dan Hoch, Christian Scharzwimmer
Awards: AIA New England Design Award, Greater Portland Landmarks Preservation Award, Maine Preservation Honor Award
Photography: Robert Dietchler (photos 1,2,4,5,6,7)