Eco-Auto Research Showroom

Transforming a garbage incinerator into a green showroom for electric cars

Synopsis: This proposal calls for the transformation of a garbage incinerator building into an “Eco-Auto Research Showroom” that showcases the latest eco-friendly automotive technologies and concepts.

Detailed Description: The site is in Somerville’s Brickbottom District, abutting the McGrath Highway. In the early 1900s, several small automotive-related manufacturers were established in this district. Later, the Ford Motor Company built an assembly shop in what is now nearby Assembly Square. Even today, Herb Chambers Companies has a major showroom along the highway. At nearby MIT, significant research in revolutionary automotive design and analysis is conducted.

We need a central showcase that lets the public view these and other designs and technologies as they are developed and brought to market worldwide. Similarly, the retailers, vendors, and researchers need a place to collect and evaluate public reaction to these emerging technologies and concepts as they market these new products.

The large shell of the original incinerator building is inhabited as a kind of ruin. While most exterior walls remain, those facing the highway are opened up, letting passers-by see the dramatic interior. The multi-level showroom is serviced by a series of ramps and a large elevator on the site’s north side.

Each floor provides a highly flexible plan for displaying cars and technologies while engaging visitors and employees in dialogue. Offices and services line the east and north walls. The service garage and technology labs are in ancillary structures to the east. Together with landscaping, these structures create well-defined spaces, strengthening the relationships of adjacent buildings with each other and the Brickbottom context.

Shading devices and landscaping are integrated into the west facade, allowing for visual access while minimizing heat loads. Large spaces and window apertures are designed to encourage natural ventilation.