Gas Tank Converted Into Best Western In Boston

BOSTON— Taking a former gas tank and transforming it into a hotel is no easy feat. But that’s just what Group One, a Boston-based design firm, did here on Massachusetts Avenue recently. The firm converted the tank into a Best Western hotel. Group One handled the $6.5 million project, which created the 92-unit Best Western Roundhouse Suites. The 177-year-old gas tank, which had been vacant for nearly 60 years, was operated by Roxbury Gas Light Co. Werber Management, owners of the hotel opened late last year, found the structure’s location attractive. “It is a prime location directly across from the Boston University Medical School and Boston City Hospital,” said David Werber, principal. He noted that the property is near Interstate 93, the Ted Williams Tunnel, Longwood Medical Park, the airport and the South Boston Convention Center. “There is a big demand for hotel rooms here in south Boston,” he said. The project created several challenges to Group One, according to Bob Shackelton, president, and Joe Genduso, director of architecture. Among the challenges was that the gas tank had 20- to 24-inch thick walls of solid brick and no windows. Scaffolding was erected around the entire facility so a masonry saw could cut windows into the building. On each floor 24 windows were cut. The process “took approximately one week per floor,” Genduso noted, adding that straight stock windows were used rather than curved windows. In each guestroom there is approximately a 16-inch window seat as an added bonus due to the thickness of the walls. Next, the age of the brick exterior necessitated the replacement of some bricks, sending Group One in search of bricks that resembled the original ones. That was a challenge according to Genduso. Group One had looked at an antique brick which became cost prohibitive, and then found the match with a company called Consolidated Brick (CB). The new brick purchased from CB blended well with the old brick, said Genduso. He added that if they were unable to find bricks that would blend together, they would have considered staining the entire building to make the variation less noticeable. “[Right now], the colors of the old and new brick work together well,” added Genduso. While one might assume that a round building would feature circular corridors and pie-shaped rooms, such is not the case at the Roundhouse Suites property. At their narrowest point, the corridors are five-feet wide and suites are rectangular which effectively puts to use the available space, according to Shackelton and Genduso. The dome top of the hotel also showcases Group One’s effective use of space. The old roof was covered by multiple layers of tar and lead paint which had to be removed. The roof was then reinforced with an even three-inch layer of concrete and fiberglass. The domed area now houses equipment for the elevators and ventilation system. Within the building, three haphazardly placed floors were ripped out to make way for the installation of six floors to accommodate 345-square-foot, two-room suites and 390-square-foot extended suites. The two-room suite has a king-size bed with pull-out love seat in the living room area, while the extended suites are elongated and feature two double beds in the sleeping area and a pull-out couch in the living room. The first floor of the structure houses the lobby, breakfast lounge, GM’s office and sales office plus five extended suites, six two-room suites and one handicapped-accessible suite. Floors two through five each have seven extended suites, eight two-room suites and one handicapped-accessible suite. On the sixth floor there are eight extended suites and eight two-room suites. Each floor also has a storage closet for housekeeping carts and accessories while the basement level has a laundry facility, employee lounge, storage rooms, lavatories, exercise room, utility rooms and meeting rooms which can accommodate groups of 25 to 50 people. Shackelton noted that the gue