Brighton Welcomes The U.S.S. New Balance

New Balance headquarters, Brighton(Image courtesy of New Balance.)

Shake a leg and clear the decks, a giant cruise ship is heading for Brighton.

The people at New Balance recently unveiled their plans for a mammoth new headquarters off Guest Street, complete with all the latest in corporate necessities: offices, restaurants, a 175-room hotel and a sports complex for hockey and track.

Actually, that all sounds kind of nice, but here’s the thing: The artistic rendering of the proposed HQ makes it look like a cruise ship just docked smack next to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The world’s largest Duck Tour, perhaps?

If New Balance were hell-bent on building their new home to look like a commercial item, however, we could do a lot worse than a ship. There is already quite a corporate precedent.

In Newark, Ohio, for instance, its fine citizens speed past an oversized wooden picnic basket on the way work every morning, thanks to the basket-making architectural pioneers at the Longaberger Company. In Santiago, Chile, the towering Telefonica building shaped like a cell phone stands as a giant reminder that they are in the cell phone business.

The logical choice for New Balance would be to erect a giant sneaker, but alas, that’s already been done. In 1948, the Haines Shoe Company built the Shoe House, a 5-story pink boot straight out of a nursery rhyme. Dutch financial services company ING Group upped the ante considerably when it built their headquarters to look like a sleek, modern shoe, especially with its bright orange laces.

For now, however, it appears that we’ll have to do with something that resembles a cruise ship. Though this plan is hardly set in stone. It will likely take months for city officials to review New Balance’s proposed 14-acre project off Guest Street.

Remember, plans for a Lowe’s Home Improvement at the same location were beaten down amid concerns that traffic would become unbearable for residents of Allston-Brighton.

This new proposal, however, calls for two new highway exits, pedestrian walkways, and a commuter rail train stop, all of which makes Rosie Hanlon, head of the Brighton Main Streets neighborhood association, a happy civic leader.

“Traffic will always be an issue,” she says, “but more exits and thoroughfares will help not only with the development but with congestion in general. And I’m going to latch on and make sure to get that commuter rail stop. I am very supportive of the plan for New Balance and believe it can turn the Guest Street corridor into, ‘The Healthy Living District.’”

As for the cruise ship-like design of the building, says Hanlon, “I’m guessing that we’ll see some changes as the proposal unfolds.”

In the meantime, batten down the hatches and get ready for the eventual arrival of the U.S.S. New Balance.