Build Better Podcast Featured

Winthrop Center Focuses on Well-Being, Diversity

by Emily Langner

Kathleen MacNeil Headshot

Kathy MacNeil

On episode 14 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia sat down with Kathy MacNeil, principal at Millennium Partners (MP) Boston, to talk about the Winthrop Center, a $1.3 billion development in downtown Boston, and the many ways MacNeil and her team are breaking ground with the design and construction of the building, and prioritizing diversity and inclusivity throughout the process.

Slated for completion in summer 2022, Winthrop Center will be a market leader in sustainability and resiliency, and the largest passive house in the world. MacNeil says it will be the fourth tallest building in Boston at 691 feet tall, with 1.6 million square feet of space and will contain “ground floor public realm space, 800,000sf of office, and approximately 400 for-sale condominiums with great views of the city.”

With the Winthrop Center, the team at MP Boston felt it was important to be sustainable from a LEED standpoint – the building is working to achieve LEED Platinum – and to address resiliency and achieve passive house certification.

MacNeil says that passive house is the best way to net zero carbon, “striving to reduce energy and advance the comfort level of people using the building.” Incorporating elements into the center like triple-glazed windows for insulation, and capturing and reusing fresh air with heat recovery units will help save up to 65% energy compared to other first class office buildings, and “will provide great comfort for the people using the building.” While it has been achieved in other buildings throughout the country, MacNeil says it has never been done in an office building of this size.

The center will also be designed to allow for WELL certification, which focuses on employee well-being and health. It will provide good drinking water, thermal comfort, and outdoor terraces to tenants and visitors to the building.  Consistent with the goal of connecting the building with the neighborhood, the center will also have a “connector,” a space where people can access Wi-Fi and hang out, visit restaurants, and host large events.

MacNeil and her team are also working with the city to create goals for including women and people of color in all aspects of the project, from the design and construction team and building management to security and the janitorial staff. She says, “I’m very excited to see Winthrop Center come out of the ground and I’m very excited to see the faces of the men and women that build this building, and that diversity.”

As leaders in the field, MacNeil says, the team at MP Boston is continuously learning from and advancing on their past projects and experiences. They are sharing with the public what they’re doing with Winthrop Center in hopes of teaching and inspiring others to not only create spaces that are good for the environment and the people that inhabit them, but also to foster environments where women- and minority-owned businesses have opportunities to contribute and to thrive.

To learn more about how MacNeil and her team are prioritizing diversity and inclusivity with the Winthrop Center, listen to episode 14 now!

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