The Boston Conservatory Master Plan

Client The Boston Conservatory
Location Boston, MA
Status Completed in 2004

The Handel Architects-led master plan studied the Conservatory's disparate property holdings and the possibilities for expansion.

The Boston Conservatory, a small institution of 535 students, trains artists for professional careers in music, dance, and theater. Having outgrown their previous facilities, located in several buildings in The Fenway, Handel Architects provided a master plan and programming study of possible improvements.

Work began with an initial assessment of the Conservatory's holdings, which were spread out over two blocks in a series of non-contiguous buildings. Handel Architects led the Conservatory in a programming exercise in order to determine the school's wish list for performance, theater, dance, music, academic, administrative, and residential space. This program became the basis for the process by which the Conservatory selected its best expansion option.

Performance is one of the primary points of contact between The Boston Conservatory, its surrounding community, and the greater Boston area. One of the initial results of the Conservatory's work was the conclusion that a new space was needed to improve this interaction while also providing students with a central, state-of-the-art space to gather, practice, and perform. This "Heart of School" would act as a juncture for the school’s three major disciplines: dance, theater, and music.

As a result of the initial planning process, four schemes were selected for an in-depth review. Each one combined some variety of potentially acquiring new space, as well as renovating existing space.

The selected scenario called for the renovation and expansion of 8 The Fenway, and the conversion of both 24 The Fenway and 26 The Fenway into new academic program space. It called for a new state of the art performance hall for concerts, theater, and dance, and both expanded rehearsal and teaching facilities to meet the school's increased enrollment. In addition, the residence halls at 32, 40, and 54 The Fenway would remain, while additional neighborhood residence halls should be acquired.

Handel Architects planning work led to an extensive renovation of the existing performance facility, coupled with the design of a new addition on an adjacent vacant lot, to create a single performing arts building, called The Hemenway Building, which opened in 2009. Following this, the school engaged the firm to design a second building, a studio space for rehearsals and practice. This building, called Ipswich Studios, opened in 2014.

Conservatory Buildings

Execution of the Master Plan

Handel Architects' follow-up work for the Conservatory includes The Hemenway Building and Ipswich Studios.


Master Planner Design Architect