THE VERB, BOSTON
Sheltered by the original 1950s two-level brick motel, the 93-room The Verb in Boston has been revamped by Elkus Manfredi Architects, which introduces a 1947 vintage Flexible tour bus (hipster alert!) Hamish Kilburn writes…
Projecting the same legacy that began when the Fenway Motor Hotel first opened in 1959, the design challenge met my Elkus Manfredi Architects was to create a vibrant 21st-century reimagining of the classic mid-century motel. Its aim was to seamlessly reconnect the best of Boston’s rock ‘n roll heritage with the neighbourhood-based newspaper and rock radio stations that chronicled the cultural phenomena radiating from the Fenway neighbourhood.
The Fenway, Boston’s trendy neighbourhood continues to be a distinctive section of the city. It is home to the Boston Red Sox, who have won eight out of the 12 World Series baseball championships they have appeared in. The area around the hotel is well-known for its linear greenway. A submissive chain of parks, named Emerald Necklace and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, surrounds the streets that house the disobedient, loud and proud The Verb, first evident by the slightly peculiar but equally fitting big red American bus.
Parked under the hotel’s immense sign is an appropriately funky 1947 vintage Flexible Clipper Motor Coach. The bus merely works an extension and not an interruption to the hotel’s aesthetics. It soon becomes apparent how much fun this must have been to design. It includes retro seating, a bar, kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping/lounge area and takes the hotel’s charm and parks it out front, creating a lasting first impression of the place.
Part of a wider decade-long urban redevelopment of the historic Fenway Park, the hotel celebrates the fabled rock-era music culture that began in the neighbourhood in the 1960s, when early in their careers, rock icons such as Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, and The Who – and later The Clash, the Ramones, Blondie, and The Police – performed at venues in the area. The Verb’s design mixes restored architectural and interior features of the original motor inn, retro/contemporary elements inspired by mid-century design, and contemporary amenities to create a rich, authentic, and unique experience for today’s guest.
Elkus Manfredi Architects has honoured the original building, retaining the footprint of the motel and its guestrooms. Original exposed brick in the lobby remains to create an edgy black feature wall. On the opposite side, you will find a curated gallery of archived rock memorabilia from the collection of David Bieber, former staff chronicler of the music scene for The Boston Phoenix and Creative Services Director of radio station WBCN. The gallery includes authentic and original rock posters from legendary Fenway music venues such as the Boston Tea Party, The Rat, and Spit; tickets, backstage passes, and handwritten set lists; original band photography; Andy Warhol album covers signed by band members — all vintage materials from the music culture that emerged in the Fenway in the 60s.
Throughout the rest of the hotel, the interior design can comfortably be summed up as ‘the rock ‘n roll spirit of the Fenway reimagined for today’s guest’. While maintaining many of the characteristics of its motel roots, The Verb adds a decidedly modern twist to its retro elements and offers the latest hospitality amenities. For example, a vintage Realistic-brand LAB 440 turntable and a bin of 150 vintage local and national vinyl albums offer an immersive, interactive experience for hotel guests.
The feel is that of an authentic motor inn, including a courtyard pool, which very much reflects the same style and tone found in the interiors. For example, the windows that frame the hotel’s structure are designed in an irregular Mondrian-like pattern and create a deliberate mid-century aesthetic.
The hotel doesn’t try too hard to fit in simply because it doesn’t have to. Ideal for the modern traveller looking for something more than just a bed for the night, The Verb has been designed with entertainment and the community in mind. Its open communal areas encourage guests to live, work and enjoy the public spaces. It has kept true to the original 1950s structure of the former hotel and is a reflection and celebration of the neighbourhood’s energetic spirit throughout modern history.