Routinely branding itself as “two experiences under one roof”, a family friendly restaurant and a separate sports bar concept, the Boston Pizza formula has been honed over nearing a half-century. Tracing its roots to the Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House opened by Gus Agioritis on August 12, 1964, in Edmonton, Alberta, the brand quickly grew into seventeen (17) locations in Western Canada by 1970 (source: wikipedia.org).
Boston Pizza head office, circa 1973 (source: bostonpizza.com)
Surviving ownership changes, the brand would ultimately fall under the ownership of franchisees Jim Treviling and George Melville in 1983 (source: bostonpizza.com). The two men would proceed to divest all but one of their restaurants to other franchisees, and began work on developing standards and procedures that would lay the foundation for the exponential growth of the BP concept (source: wikipedia.org).
Boston Pizza, front 3/4 view, Galerie Anjou, Anjou, Québec
Combining a relaxed dining environment with a large menu selection, including the brand’s signature gourmet pizzas, Boston Pizza has managed to carve out a pre-eminent position in the casual dining market. Present and accounted for with restaurants from coast to coast in their home country (Canada), Boston Pizza claims “more locations, serving more guests annually than any other casual dining concept” (source: bostonpizza.com).
Bostons The Gourmet Pizza, side 3/4 view, 327 Star Road, Allentown, Pennsylvania (source: maps.google.com)
The brand’s franchise system has been so successful that the concept has been exported to the United States and Mexico, where the brand operates under the “Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza” moniker.
Epitomizing an affinity for suburban outlets, the prototypical Boston Pizza location adopts a rectilinear footprint, overwhelmingly trending towards a square-shaped building. Enhanced through several design techniques, such as articulation, vertical segmentation, material diversity, horizontal variation, and parapet accentuation, the basic squat box shape dims mildly into the background.
Through the use of articulation, whereby the facades alternate by stepping in and out of the primary surface plane, the exterior elevations instantly display a sense of depth, surface relief and visual interest. Breaking up what might otherwise be a long blank wall into smaller segments, with an alternating rhythm of projected and recessed portions, results in more dynamic elevations.
Boston Pizza, front view, 3002 Richelieu Street, Rockland, Ontario
Exploiting segmentation and compartmentalization in the vertical plane, combined with contrasting colours, surface changes are maximized. Furthermore, complementary building materials such as cultured stone, brick, stucco/EIFS, plaster and metals (steel and aluminum) are customarily juxtaposed to underscore and accentuate the surface changes in the façade, whilst also contributing a textural deviation.
Boston Pizza, front view, Yonge Street near Green Lane, East Gwillimbury, Ontario
Systemically creating a visual rhythm with window placement on the three (3) principal sides, the window openings are often framed by implicit columns, though the judicious use of colour and texture, or contained within façade projections.
Adorned with stepped roof parapets, the rectilinear shape is further broken up horizontally, serving the further distinguish and separate the protruding portions into distinct high-low visual elements.
Boston Pizza, front 3/4 view, St-Laurent Boulevard near Donald Street, Ottawa, Ontario
Moreover, encasing window openings within the protruding plane introduces aluminium and glass as auxiliary design elements. Large picture windows combined with several smaller divided lights above increase transparency and afford views while. Lighter coloured or natural aluminum frames appear thin and elegant against clear glass. Alternatively, darker window frames combined with tinted glass increase the perception of depth within the window wells.
Boston Pizza, front 3/4 view, 52 Boulevard Cité des Jeunes, Vaudreuil, Québec
Headwall elements and pronounced lintels restrict the window area vertically, forming a grounded daylight opening (DLO) counter-balanced by a barren upper portion terminating at the parapet above.
While the three (3) principal sides share many similarities in composition and material make-up, the main façade adds a prominent, articulated component that typifies the entrance. Conversely, the rear portion of the building, which serves the more functional purposes of receiving/deliveries and waste disposal, receives minimal embellishments.
Boston Pizza, rear 3/4 view, Conroy Road at Walkley Road, Ottawa, Ontario
Reaching out to great and welcome guests, the entrance portion protrudes horizontally and vertically, stepping out of the basic square box shape and projecting periscope-like above the roof. The high focal point at the entrance doubles as a make-shift beacon, making it visible from a distance.
Boston Pizza, front view, Conroy Road at Walkley Road, Ottawa, Ontario
Large doubles doors with formulaic squiggle door handles are customarily framed in a larger window field and lined by column elements, echoing the window opening treatments. At times, the columns are continuous from the ground plane to the roof. However, the more common column treatment is through material stacking, whereby horizontal layers of brick/stone, EIFS, and metal are piled like a cord of firewood, amplifying the vertical dimension through material strata and variation.
Boston Pizza (future), front view, currently “Spec-built” retail development undergoing transformation to resemble a more prototypical BP restaurant, Carling Avenue at Clyde Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario
Boston Pizza, front view, transformed “Spec-built” retail development, Carling Avenue at Clyde Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario
The entrance component proposes the highest elevation, predominantly terminated by a roof element with significant overhangs on all sides. The entrance tower roof element seemingly “sits” or “floats” in place. Deliberate under-lighting gives a lightweight and airy feel to the roof, furthering the sensation of it hovering.
Boston Pizza, front view, 2755 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Victoria, British Columbia (source: victoriamenus.ca)
Although typically adopting a flat roof aesthetic with a supporting structure inset from the main façade, other roof compositions are also evident. More sporadic in occurrence, flat or pitched roofs, often integrated into the main façade as an extension of the highest parapet, can also be found.
4-Blurring the lines
Physically carving up the interior footprint to create distinct zones, dining room area and “sports bar” area, to be enjoyed differently by different guests, Boston Pizza attempts to reconcile the somewhat divergent demands of families and fans.
Unencumbered by the customary trappings of a “sports bar” or “less family-friendly” restaurants, BP projects a welcoming and casual ambiance which appeals to diverse guests.
Big Shots Sports Bar and Grill, 780 US 1, Iselin, New Jersey (source: maps.google.com)
Straddling the line between the two, Boston Pizza could hardly be confused as a dedicated sports bar, or as a family adverse upscale restaurant.
Champs Sports Bar, 4103 West Burbank Boulevard, Burbank, California (source: maps.google.com)
Further contributing to the casual atmosphere is the quasi-obligatory patio area, as it proves abnormally difficult to find a Boston Pizza that is devoid of a patio. The indoor/outdoor dichotomy effectively expands the serving area, blurring the lines between building and site. Explicitly augmenting the actual physical size of the prototypical restaurants, the patio space also serves to underpin the more dress-down and informal tone.
Bostons The Gourmet Pizza, 12794 Riverdale Boulevard, Coon Rapids, Minnesota (source: maps.google.com)
Often bordered by soft landscaping, grass, and shrubs, the patio space injects a less formal, more casual and laid-back sense to the dining experience, which itself further reinforces the BP brand’s essence of casual dining.
The customary restaurant franchise model depends wholly on a series of proven operational routines and formulas for everything from menu to overall design. The building design and architectural identity advanced by Boston Pizza has become so ingrained that prototypical restaurant renderings have heralded corporate milestones on the BP website (source: bostonpizza.com).
Boston Pizza restaurant opening milestones, 100th (1996), 200th (2005), 300th (2008) (source: bostonpizza.com)
Having built a presence in car-friendly suburban settings, stand alone Boston Pizza restaurants populate out-parcels near malls, power centers, movie theatres and big-box retail stores. Repetitive, varying slightly due largely to site or location driven constraints, the Boston Pizza built-environment design aesthetic typically sees minimal alterations and modifications, resulting in a mostly undiluted, recognizable architectural identity.
Former Boston Pizza, front 3/4 view, Boulevard des Sources at Autoroute 40, Montreal, Québec
Fervent and continued commitment to franchise standards and procedures resulted in built-in recognition for the BP brand. Alas, the design approach cannot transpose verbatim into malls and dense urban (downtown) locations that the brand covets as part of its expansion plans (source: bostonpizza.com). The ingrained design vocabulary will require flexibility, expansion, modification and reinterpretation.
Fortunately, the brand has progressively developed an ability to integrate into other non-traditional locations such as tourist and historic districts.
Boston Pizza, 3/4 view, 4948 Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario (source: cliftonhill.com)
Bostons The Gourmet Pizza, 3/4 view, 191 W Nationwide Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio (source: maps.google.com)
Bostons The Gourmet Pizza, side 3/4 view, 250 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, Florida (source: maps.google.com)
Therefore, armed with a distinct and recognizable architectural identity, the Boston Pizza brand benefits from a broad portfolio, nearly 50 years deep, to dip into as it extends and reinterprets its design language to suit new locales.
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