The Anthem Group prides itself on exploring new and diverse uses for existing open spaces, structures and buildings. The end result is the transformation of underutilized locations into active, vibrant destinations. Recently, Anthem revitalized an underused, albeit beautiful, historic area in the Charlestown Navy Yard. With limited use for nearly two decades, Anthem restored and repurposed the site, now known as The Anchor, into an immensely popular and lively venue. The Anchor is Boston’s only multi-story public gathering space, performing and visual arts venue, open-air wine and beer garden and special event setting. The Anchor was reinvented for contemporary use and was turned into a community focal point.
The physical beautification was of utmost importance in order to create a safe and inviting atmosphere. The end goal was to accentuate the existing, natural beauty of the space, while making needed upgrades. The overarching strategy involved several visual tactics, including installing aesthetic and functional lighting, commissioning local artists for public art installations, incorporating rotating, seasonal décor and planting 80 trees to fulfill landscaping and horticultural initiatives. Anthem collaborated with both its public realm and neighboring private industry stakeholders to upgrade security features and spearhead infrastructural enhancements and improvements. The work ranged from improving electrical and plumbing utilities to refurbishing carpentry and masonry features.
A variety of furniture styles were integrated and situated very purposefully throughout The Anchor. The facility’s seating ranges from cozy daybeds and couches to contemporary bar seating and imported swing-chairs. Another highlight is the handcrafted and in-house designed tables, which feature both artwork on their facades but also have board games artistically ingrained into the tops.
The Anchor intentionally has different sub-areas designed and decorated in a cohesive manner and color scheme. While thematically similar, it still offers unique spaces to satisfy a variety of preferences and provide a feeling of individuality. The seating scheme is by design so patrons enjoy personal space, yet simultaneously have a sense of community. A lot of science is behind these efforts. Anthem’s team studied the pedestrian traffic of patrons (where they went, when, why and what did they move with them) for ten weeks. Utilizing empirical data, an advanced décor and seating plan was customized to the public’s preference. The variety and curated layout enable visitors to feel like they are in their own universe, but not disconnected from the greater venue.
Beyond aesthetics, Anthem infused several activation tactics to maximize the visitor experience. Daily amenities are available including various types of games and other activities. Public art installations and over 300 free, events and programs occurred in year one, with even more scheduled for The Anchor’s sophomore season. This activity further created a safe and inclusive environment. It is now utilized throughout the day and evening, and a new found ambiance exists where everyone feels welcome.
The physical look of the space is one of the most admired and noticeable improvements. However, The Anchor is more than an attractive facility with dynamic activation. What Anthem is most proud of is The Anchor is an inclusive community hub with a unique culture, that is enjoyed by local residents and tourists alike. Anthem conceptualized – and delivered a location with an evolving personality throughout the day. It is common to see families with children in the daytime to young professionals in the evening and then a vibrant nightlife scene as well. The Anchor became a stylish destination that is appealing to a variety of audiences, while remaining community focused and oriented.