When renowned chef Jody Adams and her partners sought to develop a concept for a new restaurant in a Historic Boston Landmark, they approached Maryann Thompson Architects, who had successfully completed the transformation of Adams' Rialto Restaurant in 2007, to transform the grand and historic corner ground floor space of the old Russia Wharf, now part of the recently completed Atlantic Wharf development and facing the new Rose Kennedy Greenway, into a space that reflects the concept of the restaurant: simple, fresh, and intimate, combining international influences with local ingredients. The project was to become both a casual and lively bar scene as well as an elegant dining experience for the diverse population around the Financial and Seaport Districts. The design schemes sought to celebrate and highlight the character of this historic landmark, while creating a fresh and modern space that emphasizes simplicity, elegance, and local fabrications.
The desired dialogue between old and new elicits ideas about contemporary insertions that are both defining space and integrating complex infrastructure within. The design scheme makes use of warm natural materials in a modern language against the background of the carefully preserved historic structure. The original steel riveted columns were painted white with intumescent paint; brick ceilings and windows whitewashed, to brighten and freshen up the space and seal it from dust, but yet allow its old character to show through. Concrete floors are polished and stained in a dark amber color to provide a warm and reflective ground surface over which ephemeral and delicate white "clouds" fold like origami floating over the space, creating moments of intimacy around the bar and dining room, and smartly providing space for concealed sound insulation material and mechanical infrastructure, that liberated the beautiful vaulted brick ceilings to be exposed. Stained solid oak boards cover the new walls holding wine and coat storage, as well as display shelves, forming a thickened threshold that separates the main space from the kitchen and back-of-house. The continuous wood ribbon that folds behind the bar provides a warm and elegant backdrop to the restaurant that draws your eye through the space, offering moments of reveal and spatial continuity. The Calacatta Gold marble at the bar and service stations unified the main dining space and the bar with the fresh and warm colors of the natural stone. The custom mirror installation at the back bar makes a fragmented pattern that dissolves the views of the crowd, and reflects and amplifies the field of clear pendants that make light a protagonist of the space. Two large domed metal fixtures further make use of light to create a sense of drama and intimacy, with a Saffron Yellow color in the interior and a hammered metal finish exterior, done by hand by a local metal artist and fabricator from Central Massachusetts. The tables were designed to complement the warm tones of the walls and the old character of the space, fabricated with reclaimed fir stained in a chocolate color and machine metal bases, fabricated by a local woodworker in Rhode Island. Inspired by Jody's visit to Jim Thompson's house in Thailand, splashes of color fabrics bring interest and fun to the chairs and custom round banquettes that stand out against the very soft and natural background dominated by fresh whites and warm woods.