By Richard Campbell

This past week the Boston Planning Development Agency approved a new Omni Hotel across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  The hotel has two 21 story towers, 1,054 rooms, and encompasses 788,500 sq. ft.   It is designed by the monster international firm Elkus / Manfredi Architects.  As readers might imagine, this is a massive hotel complex that includes generous 40,000 feet of street facing retail space, parking and landscaped areas.  The land on which the hotel is being built is owned by MassPort, with project development by David Cos.

Elkus / Manfredi is known in this district for its many building designs from the Fan Pier gateway to the waterfront including One Marina Park, Fan Pier Boulevard’s Vertex headquarters, Liberty Wharf, and the Intercontinental Hotel.  Around Boston the firm is also known for its restoration and design work for Emerson College at the Paramount theater.  Most of their work in the Seaport is characterized by a glass curtain wall structures like the Intercontinental Hotel, with sculptural qualities that make them stand out strikingly from the buildings that surround them.

This building fills in an important space in front of the BCEC, which will complete the assembly of hotels in close proximity, and is a particularly important addition for cold weather New England.  Someone finally got the idea to put a tunnel between a hotel and the convention center in one of the coldest seaports in the US.  As the Seaport district takes off, the expansion of the convention meetings is expected to match all this building.  Looking very much like an Omni Resort, one can’t say this building design impresses for originality, though it has expansive ballrooms, meeting spaces, multiple innovative deck designs, fitness facilities, as well as a pool terrace.

The 550 million-dollar project will be the largest hotel in Boston and will include landscape design by international firm Mikyoung Kim Design known for their recent ungainly wind propeller park fronting the new Prudential Center wing.  The hotel is scheduled to open in 2021, and no doubt its construction will keep the jobs flowing in the Seaport District. Dubbed the Omni Seaport Hotel to distinguish it from the Omni Parker House in downtown, the addition of these rooms should make high convention and graduation season a little more convenient.