Back Bay Music Venue is a combination restaurant, café, and live music venue positioned along a major thoroughfare in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood.

The existing shell’s irregular shape and change in levels presents a unique set of challenges. This proposal seeks to resolve the fragmentation of the space with a singular unifying element along the back wall and ceiling. The fragmented geometry of the ceiling serves as a way to zone specific programs within the space, conceal and distribute lighting and services, and to strategically allow for a formal language that will accommodate and amplify the acoustical demands of this live music venue.

Our design concept takes into consideration the dynamic aspect of being a restaurant, a coffee house, and a live music venue. The public spaces are transformed through various furniture arrangements, helping to socially choreograph the areas. In the dining area a series of rectangle tables are equipped with folding legs to allow for easy storage during music performances. Dining chairs can similarly be stacked and stored away. In the lounge, amoeba shaped tables allow for larger group dining. During performances when the main dining area furniture is stored, a series of modular benches and nesting tables can be introduced to allow for informal seating arrangements.

As the focal point of the venue, the stage acts as a visual link to pedestrians, helping to draw guests into the space. As a way to resolve the existing geometry of the shell, the back wall of the stage introduces angular facets that become a unifying element within the scheme. Simultaneously, the facets help amplify and reflect sound throughout the space, helping to control acoustical reverberation.

Located on two levels, the bar takes on distinct atmospheres depending on the time of the day. The upper zone transforms from a place to belly up and get a drink to a lounge and viewing area during music performances. The lower part of the bar flanking the entry becomes a cafe along the street front during the day. The wall and ceiling material wraps down along the bar top to help unify the distinct elements, while reinforcing a consistent material language.

Merge Architects Inc.
332 Congress St. Floor 6
Boston MA 02210


We are driven by an unrelenting curiosity, optimism, and urgency to change our built environment for the better.

Merge Architects

General Inquiries

Please submit any general inquiries to:


View Available Positions

Merge is always interested in adding new talent to our team! Please feel free to submit your portfolio to: