Roslindale Substation’s History Inspires Workhub Today

Roslindale Substation’s History Inspires Workhub Today

Many businesses these days turn themselves steel blue to create a steam-punk feel. For us, at Workhub at the Substation, the existing industrial elements of Roslindale’s iconic former electric transformer substation made it easy to establish a warm, industrial aesthetic. As a co-working and convening space, we see ourselves as a vital part of, and reflecting, our dynamic and community-oriented neighborhood. This means both honoring its history and supporting its evolution. Considering our role as a custodian of the building’s unique history, we sought a design that would highlight as much of the original building as possible.

Derek Rubinoff Architect and his team guided us in keeping as much of the original fabric unadorned, starting with the exposed brick and unaltered steel columns, and making them a part of the structural elements, such as with our conference room glass wall.

Perhaps most striking about the Workhub space are the five hefty, copper clad doors that adorn the walls. Several of the doors show off a remarkable patchwork of copper panels.

We kept three of the doors in the condition we found them – with decades of tarnish.  One of the doors we scrubbed and shined as a nod to the substation’s former workers, who are anecdotally reported to have taken great pride in keeping the building’s copper glistening.  The fifth door – which was found stained with green streaks – we patinated fully.  We also installed a backlight to this door to add dimension behind the chicken-wire safety glass.

Cheryl Rosenberg of Piña Home, a private office tenant of Workhub, gave us the excellent idea to upcycle a grate that formerly covered a large opening in the main floor into a coat-rack. 

We made use of the one salvaged copper-clad door trim, turning it into a frame for our plant wall.

And turned slate slabs that formerly covered a power-line trench into planters and chalk signs.

Reused gooseneck light fixture.

Though not from the original building but in the same spirit of repurposing, much of the woodwork in the space is milled from hundred-twenty-year-old joists from a repurposed Roslindale carriage house. Some of our art is made from the cardboard packaging our tables came in.

We are grateful for the leadership and vision of HBI and Roslindale Village Main Street over the almost two-decade redevelopment process and for the Peregrine Group, the building’s developer, for preserving and repurposing this amazing building. An exhibit of the building’s history and development can be found here.

Workhub also introduces the Workhub Gallery, located in the broad hallway of Workhub. It is open to the public and features the work of local artists. The Substation building is a community asset, and the public is encouraged to be a part of it. With Turtle Swamp’s beer garden on the upper level, and Workhub on the lower level, the Substation has become a de facto community center – a place to feel a sense of community and connection.

Workhub at the Substation is open for desk space, conference room and private office rental and tours for the historically curious.  Contact Laura Charles at or 617-676-6765 to find out more.