Developed as part of the Boston Society of Architects’ Urban Design Workshop, DotMod is perhaps best explained etymologically:

Dot is a colloquialism for Dorchester. Yet Dot seemingly reduces one of Boston’s largest and most diverse neighborhoods to a singular point on a map. For instance, Dorchester Avenue contains this oversimplification in the spatial paradox of its name – Dot Ave (Point Line?) – even as it spans 4 miles through commercial and residential, European, Latin, African, and Asian American communities, and connects manufacturing along Boston Harbor to former mills on the Neponset River.  

DotMod is but a point (of parcels) about midway along this line, just as it is also a line within this point. The zigzagging line of its footprint creates two public courtyards, distinguished by the edge conditions produced by the site’s surroundings and the building’s mutation from a linear block respecting the zoning of Dot Ave on the southeast to a tower addressing Jones Hill and the distant views of downtown Boston to the northwest. This modulated form, then, suggests one of multiple interpretations of Mod.

Mod is also understood as an abbreviation of modular. While lower levels of the site are devoted to retail, upper levels house much-needed residential units. Taking advantage of the level of craft in off-site construction, these units are developed as prefabricated modules. Studios, one, two, and three bedroom units are then assembled – stacking and overlapping – in such a way to interact with the common corridor and one another to produce unique, inhabited façades, while optimizing different solar orientations. Each of these 10 exterior surfaces undulates in and out to create a network of recessed balconies and terraces, optimizing access to private and semi-private outdoor space. While underpinned by craft methods of standardization, the on-site architectural assembly, then, generates particularity. 

Just as it might be read as modular or modulated, so too might DotMod come to be a modifier; transforming an empty and under-utilized point along the line of Dot Ave into a vibrant place for working, dining, shopping, living, and gathering within the Dorchester community.

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


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