Where exactly is the new building?
The new building is located at 24 Farnsworth St., Boston, MA 02210, in Boston’s Innovation District.
What in the world is the Innovation District?
Boston’s Innovation District is a neighborhood of Boston around the South Boston waterfront, near the historic harbor and Fort Point channel. This is an up and coming neighborhood that hosts museums, established organizations, new start-up firms, and, now, us! For more information, check out these videos (http://vimeo.com/21561683 and http://vimeo.com/21596132) or visit http://www.innovationdistrict.org.
How do I get to the new building?
The new building is easily accessible by public transportation. 24 Farnsworth is about a ten minute walk from South Station, which serves the Red Line, the Silver Line, and the commuter rail. This is a beautiful walk over the Fort Point channel, very near the harbor. Our out-of-town visitors flying into Logan Airport can hop on the Silver Line (SL1) towards South Station and get off at Court House Station, then walk about 4 minutes down Farnsworth Street to our new HQ. Total travel time approximately 16 minutes. The outbound Silver Line is also a quick option to get from South Station to 24 Farnsworth if it is too cold to walk (about 6 minutes by bus).
For our staff and visitors who commute into North Station or via the Green Line, there are several other public transportation options. The 4 bus leaves from North Station at Causeway Street, and stops at the intersection of Sleeper Street and Seaport Blvd, a few blocks from the new building. Total travel time for this route is about 15 minutes. The Orange Line from North Station will take you to Downtown Crossing, where you could take the 459 bus towards Salem Depot, to Congress Street at A Street. Total travel time for this route is approximately 20 minutes. You could also take the Green line to Park Street and transfer to the Red line, then take the Red line to South Station – again, about 20 minutes travel time.
24 Farnsworth is also easily accessible by car. There is a parking garage right across the street that costs $17/day to park (by comparison, the closest parking garage to 25 Beacon is two blocks away and costs $34/day).
Isn’t that part of Boston sinking?
The UUA has done considerable research into this question. Possible rising seas or storm surges are a legitimate concern for the entire city of Boston, including the Seaport area. By 2100, many of the buildings in Boston may be renovated to protect against damage, not just the UUA headquarters, so as the decades go by, we keep pace with research and suggestions of the time for property protection. However, we are in no immediate danger from rising water levels!
The Boston Seaport area is classified as “minimal flood hazard… above the 500 year flood level,” based on current FEMA flood ratings which are regularly updated based on current understandings of trends and risk. The first floor of the building is more than 6 feet off the ground (to make it easier to load trucks), which will protect the building from storm surges. In addition, our new offices have a unique level of safety because they sit on top of a cement parking garage, the sloped entrance of which will allow any water above 48 inches to run out. This would only be prevented in the event that water in the street is higher than the garage entrance, which would require a standing water level almost a full foot above the 100 year storm level. Further assessments of the building equipment have shown that most of the infrastructure, like HVAC and electrical panels, are on high floors of the building, or can be protected with barrier systems, which will likely be installed.
The city of Boston describes the Innovation District: “The 1,000 acres of iconic waterfront property poses an opportunity to shape the future of environmental leadership. The Innovation District provides the space to test new technologies that will fundamentally change the way residents, workers, and visitors interact with the environment, while saving it.”
While we aren’t worried about any immediate danger for 24 Farnsworth, we are also committed to environmental sustainability and environmental justice, and to adopting practices that will reverse climate change.
Why aren’t you moving to, say, Kansas?
When we searched for a new building, the UUA looked at options across the country. However, our focus was in the Boston area. This decision was made so that our new offices would maintain some of the historical significance of the area, as well be considerate of the local staff that have served the organization for many years. Keeping a consistent presence will allow us to serve our congregations and constituents better.