Cities with industrial pasts inherit problematic environmental futures. The Steel Yard’s cleanup is a showcase for regenerative design in a tough environment. Within industrial Providence, the project is a public intervention that upends commonly held notions of blighted neighborhoods and shows the potential for real, actively engaged—not simply ‘adaptive’—re-use. The Steel Yard’s campus for learning embodies the non-profit’s mission through innovative (and necessarily inexpensive) brownfield remediation, stormwater filtration/reduction, purposeful design and placemaking.
Christian Phillips Photography & Annali Kiers
Sited between the third and fourth ring roads in Beijing, this 1,000 unit condominium complex by the world’s largest residential developer, China Vanke, is home to Chinese and foreign professionals who work in the nearby embassy district. All of the four courtyards are built over underground garage structures. Landscape space is highly regarded by Chinese developers and residents, and KMDG is proud to have designed these gardens in the Chinese capital.
To us, the physical traces of the site’s history, present in the remarkable slopes, stone material, and setting for the gatehouse, warranted another look at preservation and interpretation for this site, slated to be flattened to receive a town soccer field. In 19th century New York and Boston, an idea emerged linking large infrastructure—aqueducts or drain systems—with public parks and open space. The same idea is evident at the Fisher Hill Reservoir where neighbors would bring lawn chairs to the terraced top of the reservoir to watch the sunset on summer evenings. Our goal here was to design a contemporary park without wiping away the site’s history and genius loci or ‘spirit of the place.’
Brigham and Women's Master Plan - Boston, MA
A new, translucent polycarbonate and steel canopy is our primary catalyst that rejuvenates the entry court for Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Coupled with strategic planting measures, the canopy more clearly expresses arrival and entry, as well as creates a better environment for waiting. An intensively used space, the 45 Francis Street entrance was primarily paved and sparsely planted. The rejuvenated space welcomes visitors with a larger covered drop off and increased plantings around the perimeter. Efforts to extend the plantings beyond the limited planting area available at grade resulted in vine covered vertical screens which adds dramatically to the amount of green in the entry court.
Christian Phillips Photography
"The redevelopment of the Bund has at once reconnected the dynamic urban fabric of Shanghai with its riverfront. The design strategies orchestrate a powerful sequence of experiences and spaces and have succeeded in transforming the Bund into an extension of the city's living room."
-Shannon Bassett, "Better City, Better Bund" in Topos Magazine October 2010
Tim Griffiths Photography
Guided by the schools values, KMDG developed a plan to bring lively, textural and experiential spaces for children of all ages to learn and play. The entire schoolyard can be used both for free play and to support curricular activities, and spaces were designed to function well for different scales of users, from a single child exploring independently, several kids using a deck for imaginary play, to a full class engaged in a lesson with a teacher.
Christian Phillips Photography
Summer Star Wildlife Sanctuary - Boylston, MA
KMDG joined a team of designers, environmental educators, and conservationists working together to implement the client’s vision of a wildlife sanctuary open to the public and offering programs to bring people into a closer relationship with nature. Site disturbance to build the new visitor education center created an opportunity for extensive plantings to support a variety of wildlife habitat and to provide interest throughout the seasons to visitors as they enter the site and circulate toward the visitor center and trail system.
Together with The Steel Yard, this speculative office building, built of stacked shipping containers, is a landmark player in the remaking of Providence’s Industrial Valley. Sited on a former lumberyard, the transient nature of the containers is countered by their anchoring to the ground by the site strategy of stairs and ramps lifting up from the ground plane. Stormwater moves through cuts in the remnant pavement, gaps from which the green landscape springs.
Christian Phillips Photography
Brigham & Women’s Hospital: Brigham Building for the Future - Boston, MA
A new research and outpatient clinical building is the southern anchor for Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As part of our work to bring nature into the hospital across the campus, this building has three new gardens: a rooftop terrace overlooking the Emerald Necklace Riverway, an enclosed garden to be viewed by patients in the oncology infusion unit, and a ground-level park connecting the campus with the Riverway.
Condor Street Urban Wild - East Boston, MA
An abandoned brownfield, this was the first of Boston’s urban wilds to be designed by landscape architects. Intended primarily as wildlife habitat, space for active recreation is not provided. Instead, the contaminated soil is capped as a tall landform, inviting people to walk up and view passing oil tankers at their deck level. This project was led by Mark Klopfer with Kaki Martin as job captain into the construction document phase while at Hargreaves Associates.
Christian Phillips Photography
Boston’s City Hall Plaza remains unimproved after decades of criticism, but its miniature twin, one block away on Beacon Hill, is being completely remade as Suffolk University’s first and only campus landscape space. The former barren, brick, backdoor to the McCormack State Office Building, and roof to a parking garage, is becoming a lively amphitheater plaza with human-scaled spaces. The feature element, a carved granite plinth at the toe of the amphitheater, commemorates the wonderful open spaces that are the legacy of the Metropolitan District Commission, formerly headquartered on this site.
Placed directly on the ground, the latest terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport is a throwback to an earlier age of aviation where one walks directly onto the tarmac to board a plane. Serving private and corporate jets, this small terminal has an exterior waiting room in the form of an enclosed garden. A wood scrim civilizes the concrete and barbed wire ‘blast wall’ separating the airfield from the public realm. The outdoor space of the terminal becomes an oasis carved out of a paved and industrial district of the airport.
Christian Phillips Photography
Klopfer Martin Design Group joined XChange Architects and Jacobs Engineering to realign Provincetown’s new airport facility with up-to-date security, operational, and sustainability standards.
KMDG’s work includes a landscape design concept for the site’s existing vehicular circulation and parking lot which minimizes the lot’s visibility as well as its impact on adjacent protected wetland areas. The building’s landside forecourt and passenger drop-off areas are re-imagined as a series of space-making precast benches and wooden “dunes” for a more comfortable and memorable waiting experience. A rooftop garden and vegetated green roof provides an outdoor “room” for staff while creating visual interest for in-air passengers.
Al Maryah (Sowwah) Island Landscape Master Plan - Abu Dhabi, UAE
As part of its Plan 2030, Abu Dhabi is expanding its commercial core to Al Maryah (formerly Sowwah) Island. Collaborating with Boston architects over,under and Utile, our team developed architecture and landscape design guidelines to shape a vision of this city center as a vibrant and pedestrian-centric urban realm that meets Abu Dhabi’s new Estidama sustainability code.
Vassar Street, the home to MIT’s utilitarian chiller plants, athletic buildings, parking garages, and the historic Metropolitan Fire Safe Storage Warehouse, presents an interesting opportunity to provide a public face for a new temporary facilities services building. The narrow space between building and sidewalk, the temporary nature of the project, and the limited budget inspired a strategy using colored chain link fencing. Anchored to the ground, the chain link Colored scrims of chain link anchor to the ground providinge armatures for vines to climb, and cantilevered in the air, the chain link takes on volume and encloses plantings of bamboo. making an interesting screen for the building within the narrow space between the building and sidewalk.
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A pilot initiative of Boston’s City Hall to promote more sustainable housing in the city, this competition asked developer/design teams to envision the future of housing in the Mission Hill neighborhood. Our ‘Green Spine’ proposal puts a grand stair at the center of the project as social space, conduit for stormwater heading to cisterns for irrigation and gray water use, and connection between Parker and Terrace Streets. The community garden at the top of the hill ensures that the site continues to serve the surrounding neighborhood.
56 Leonard Street - New York, NY
KMDG’s tiniest landscape is being built as part of Herzog & deMeuron’s 56 Leonard Street condominium project in Tribeca. Since 2008 we have been working with that office on the pool deck, and after a hiatus during the recession the project is back under construction with an expected completion in 2016.
Kendall Square: Longfellow Bridge Median - Cambridge, MA
At once a city gateway and a traffic code compliant safety median, the Longfellow Bridge median is made of repetitive free-standing steel angles. Changes to height and orientation reveal a highly saturated paint scheme on the inside of the angle that becomes highly visible in winter and recedes into the planting scheme in warmer months. Perception of the colors and rhythm change depending on mode of transport over the bridge: foot, bike, or car.
Holocaust Memorial - Puchovichi, Belarus
Working with an American benefactor, KMDG has designed a memorial for a holocaust site, south of Minsk, where over 1200 Jewish men, women, and children of Puchovichi were killed in September 1941. Separated from the road at the outskirts of the village, the site is concealed from view beyond a farm field, on a small wooded hillside. Vertical granite posts, spaced evenly to reveal a path along the field/woodland edge, mark the procession to the site. As the path approaches the summit of the hill, a wall with tablets describing the events that occurred here, directs one’s ascent to the grave sites. The existing concrete slabs remain in situ with new stone edging and perimeter tree plantings added to further define the space and commemorate this site.
Causeway Street - Boston, MA
Dramatically transformed, and unfortunately vacant, after the demolition of the overhead MBTA Green Line train, Causeway Street appears regularly on national television as the home to the Boston Garden sports venue. This project gives Causeway the ability to close off traffic and celebrate winter sport championships in a dramatic urban space. On a daily basis, it serves as a rich arrival point to commuters disembarking at North Station and is home to a lively entertainment and growing residential district.
R-Line Transit Shelters - Providence, RI
A unique collaboration between RIPTA (Rhode Island Public Transit Authority) and City of Providence Department of Planning and Development with the Department of Arts and Tourism, developed the opportunity for art-based transit shelters to be located along RIPTA’s new rapid bus R-Line corridor. KMDG crafted design guidelines for public transit to serve as a placemaking tool. The guidelines detail stop-by-stop recommendations for transit shelters, public art, seating, trash cans, and bike racks based on stop location, sight lines, pedestrian movements, traffic patterns and ridership counts. KMDG also developed a call for artists, helped facilitate the selection of artists, and managed the final detailing of artist works to fit into the shelter designs.
Shelter art panels by Jennifer Dalton Vincent
Initially envisioned as a transportation project to improve the roadways and streetscape of Central Square, KMDG advocated for the opportunity to also improve Bertulli Park, the historic green space at the center of the square at the same time. The overall design vision is for more engaging public open space that is better connected to its surrounding neighborhood and enhances the retail vitality of the square. In the highly used park space, KMDG introduced contemporary detailing using a palette of simple and enduring materials.
A first step in Kendall Square’s renaissance as Massachusetts’ technology hub is the reconstruction of Main Street. Working with the infrastructural constraints of the MBTA tunnel and station only inches below the pavement, the project eliminates the existing median, widens the sidewalk and creates compelling spill-out spaces for new eateries, including one of Cambridge’s most popular homegrown, Clover.