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Fenway Center / Bower Boston

For better health, Bower in Kenmore Square to feature smart-glass

Biophilic design focuses on establishing connections to nature within buildings and is said to improve brain function. It can be something as simple as adding plants, but Bower won't just include a green wall and call it good.

"It's really an application of a principle throughout the design process," said Kelly Saito, managing partner of Gerding Edlen, developers of Bower along with Meredith Management and Nuveen. "A green wall is the low-hanging [fruit] of biophilic design. There are large and small initiatives, you can add few or many, but it is about the overall approach to design."

Edlen's Bower is the Oregon-based company's most extensive reach into biophilic design so far, Saito said. The development, which brought in Planeta Design Group for the interior, will include patterns and textures that honor the natural environment, such as tile with a tree bark-like texture, windows that open, curved edges, and an impressive, natural light-flooded atrium with plants.

Sustainability elements include heat pumps, condensing hot water heaters, a heat-recovery cogeneration turbine, rainwater runoff collection, and landscaping with low water needs — features all proven to reduce energy and waste.

Biophilia, however, is less tangible.

"You walk in and see something, and your body reacts," Saito said. "You might not notice, but you have an emotional and physical reaction."

But biophilic design is part of the bigger sustainability picture, he said: "We think of them as complementary in the development of Gerding Edlen buildings. We aim to be environmentally sustainable and have high-performance elements that promote health and wellness."

Biophilia and sustainability come together in Bower's glass exterior, which is clad in View Inc.'s Smart Windows, which tint automatically, allowing open views and natural light while maintaining thermal comfort and controlling glare. This "dynamic glass" is said to reduce headaches, eyestrain, and drowsiness.


  • Location
    Boston, MA
  • Developer
    Gerding Edlen and Meredith Management
  • Equity Partner
    Nuveen Real Estate
  • General Contractor
    John Moriarty & Associates
  • Architect
    TAT
  • Project Type
    New Construction, Multifamily
  • Project Specs
    339,000 sq. ft., 312 Units
 Smart glass is the perfect example of where the two are related. There are benefits to health and wellness, and it cuts the amount of energy being used to heat and cool a building. We will start to see much more of this in buildings. The technology has been around a while, and it costs less to produce it now. 
- Kelly Saito

Managing Partner of Gerding Edlen