The Substation is buzzing with art, special events and a new brewery

The Substation is buzzing with art, special events and a new brewery

Thanks to Laura Charles and the team at The Substation for contributing this post to HBI’s news.

The Substation team – Adam Rogoff and Laura Charles – is on a mission to use all 7600 square feet of the iconic Roslindale Substation in a way that builds, activates, and connects communities. To them, community is defined in many ways: physical and geographical, professional, artistic, and by those seeking connection through unique and inspired programming.

Having opened a co-working space during the pandemic in November 2020, they couldn’t have imagined that 16 months later, they’d take over the whole building be welcoming the community in for performances and pop-ups, hosting one of 7 BIPOC-owned breweries in Massachusetts for their first beer hall residency, or installing works of art on stair risers and the elevator shaft. 

“We’re intent on maximizing activation of the building,” says Adam Rogoff, co-owner and founder.  “We have three complementary uses: co-working, beer hall and event space, that use the space differently at different times and ensure financial sustainability.”

From the circus aerialists suspended on the original gantry crane to the once dark corners of the lower level now being utilized for team-building and small business growth, the building finally feels fully activated.

© Alana Taranto

Most recently, through a generous grant from The George B. Henderson Foundation, internationally recognized, Kansas City-based artist, and former Roslindale resident, Kevin Townsend installed his latest drawing, titled radicant moments. It is a 230-square foot work, painted directly on the walls of the elevator shaft, that records, visualizes, and quantifies every moment of a work week. The 40 hours it took to complete this drawing connects indirectly to the historic use of the building as powering the transportation used by people heading to a traditional work week and directly to the co-working environment in which Townsend was for the week very much a part. Video footage of his process projected on the building’s large street-facing, glass curtain wall, also engaged passers-by and the public in the square as it unfolded throughout the week.

“The drawing is about art and the work of art-making finding new roots in our communities and moments of our daily lives and acknowledging time as our most precious commodity,” says Townsend.

Radicant moments joins More than Finite, a site-specific work by Cuban-American artist Gabriel Sosa installed on the risers of the internal stairway of The Substation. The two installations intend to engage viewers with under-noticed elements of the building and encourage a broader experience with the historic space. 

Central to the activation of the building, in addition to co-working, art, performance, and pop-ups, is the public beer hall. Through a unique residency program, The Substation brings local breweries to Roslindale for 4-months on Friday nights and Saturdays. This program both supports the brewery in a new market and also the local small business community by enhancing local night-life. Currently on tap: Jack’s Abby!

To further highlight the bar as the centerpiece of the room, a graphic-designed pattern that beckons to the building’s industrial past and its current concept – will be laser cut into metal panels that will wrap around the bar with backlighting. This will work beautifully with the industrial aesthetic of the building. 

The investment in sound absorption panels on the ceiling to facilitate live music and large gatherings in the space has surely proved to be valuable. The Substation welcomes weekly musicians to the beer hall and was a host to musicians during Roslindale’s annual Porchfest on September 24, as well as an after party (pictured below). The Substation will also be an artist site for 19 artists as part of Roslindale Open Studios, returning this year after a 2-year hiatus, on October 15 and 16. A monthly open mic night, hosted by well-known local DJ Nomadik, brings in a wide array of talent on the last Friday of each month. Next year, they will again host the community’s Empty Bowls event, the Boston Opera Collaborative, a Spring resident brewery, and many private events. 

The Substation is a Roslindale co-working community, event space, and beer hall. The co-working space, Workhub at the Substation, is open from Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, (members have 24/7 access). The beer hall, featuring Jack’s Abby for its fall residency, is open on Fridays from 4-10pm and Saturdays from 12-10pm through December.