Worcester Blackstone Visitors CenterWorcester, Massachusetts

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes, literally. The new Blackstone Visitors Center, completed this September sits on the site of the former Washburn/Moen mill building, which burned to the ground in 2010. The 11,000 sf building sits within an 4.5 acre site with the building bookend on the site by two large events venues. Connecting the two venues and running along the visitors center is a “heritage walk” - a 40 foot wide by 640 foot long pedestrian way that includes interpretive exhibits and a new pedestrian bridge over the Blackstone Canal. The heritage walk is marked by a series of “site frames” with lighting and infrastructure that span across the walkway at the same height as the building, pavilion, and bridge to unite the entire site as a single volume.

Throughout the building and site, materials and assemblies were chosen to connect with the industrial history of the area without trying to recreate any original fabric. The building facade and site walls are made from reclaimed bricks in gabion baskets from similar deconstructed mill-buildings. The main exhibit hall of the visitors center is covered with reclaimed wood flooring. Wire screens reference the wire rope that was made at the original factory on site. While the building roof references the distinctive sawtooth monitors from the old Washburn/Moen building.