Last Friday the City of Boston held a kickoff ceremony for the tactical plaza recently completed on Franklin Street near Downtown Crossing and Millennium Tower. The temporary plaza being called "the Tontine Crescent" was designed by Ground Inc. Part of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (DBBID), we are excited to see this project gain traction after being identified as an opportunity to enhance Boston’s downtown public realm for pedestrians in the 2014 Design Guidelines KMDG created in collaboration with Gamble Associates, omloop, and HR&A for the Business Improvement District and the Boston Redevelopment Agency.
This past Friday Somerville’s Hoyt Sullivan Playground opened to the public. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Arn Franzen, the City's Director of Parks and Open Space, presided over the ribbon cutting. The turnout was fantastic, and we were so happy to see so many neighborhood kids present, all of whom who have been patiently awaiting the opening!
The park redesign emphasizes adventure play for all ages. A dynamic and interactive water feature is nestled inside a sand play area where kids can engage with different textures and pliable materials. There are two wood climbing structures and a tower with slides. A cycle track or ‘The Speedway’, as some kids are calling it, winds through the entire playground. Utilizing the site topography, the track climbs to the highest point of the playground via a switchback then allows kids to race down the back side in a straight-away.
One of the many community requests was for an area to more easily view trains. Neighborhood kids refer to Hoyt Sullivan as "train-go-by park" so we emphasized the connection by creating a new viewing platform which extends over the steep slope of the track embankment and allows kids to watch commuter trains (and eventually the green line trolleys, when the new extension is completed) pass by the park. When the first train passed the morning of the opening, kids came running to the platform from every corner of the park. It was the reaction we were hoping for!
In addition to the play features, the playground and park provide improved spaces for the community to gather and enjoy the outdoors. A community table and other seating are part of the redesign. Improved lighting allows the site to be utilized after the sun sets and preserving the tree canopy provides ample shade for visitors throughout the day. An existing beach tree continues to be the centerpiece of the park, but now families can sit on the deck surround enjoying the tree in a more intimate way.
With focusing on natural materials, adventure play and bolstering community gathering opportunities, while preserving much of the original tree canopy, Hoyt Sullivan is the product of a visionary and collaborative process which creates a new paradigm of community parks for Somerville.
Congressman Joe Kennedy, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, Mass Audubon, The Nature Conservancy and other organizations were at Fisher Hill Reservoir Park last night discussing the importance of protecting our natural spaces for future generations through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is set to expire later this year unless Congress acts to fund the program. We are honored he chose this spot - a park we designed and which benefitted from some LWCF dollars - to speak about the importance of LWCF.
Learn more about the initiative through the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition.
Planting is wrapping up in Kendall Square at the Longfellow Gateway project and the striking mixture of Carex pensylvanica, Carex glauca 'Blue Zinger', Carex muskingumensis and Leymus arenarius 'Blue Dune' create a strong visual experience for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles moving in and out of Cambridge on the newly restored Longfellow Bridge.
We are counting down the days until the newly designed Hoyt-Sullivan playground opens in Somerville. The site is composed of three main play areas for different age groups. A path connecting the areas weaves visitors under the established tree canopy of beech, linden, maple and oak. We are excited to see the design ideas come to fruition and we can’t wait for the neighborhood children - who have been enthusiastically waiting - to make it their own!
The East Boston Farmers Market has returned to Central Square drawing local vendors and the community back to the square. After a significant design, public and construction process it is exciting to see this space activated by the community.
Bobbie's Meadow at the Eric Carle Museum for Picture Book Art has officially opened with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony over the weekend. Sitting in the hundred-year-old apple orchard at the Carle and with the Mount Holyoke Range as the backdrop, Bobbie's Meadow was designed as an outdoor resource for the entire community. A place where flora and fauna come together featuring wheelchair-accessible walking path and concrete seat walls surrounded by a native wildflower meadow.
Read The Carle Museum's press release about Bobbie's Meadow here.
Photo above by Jim Gipe via The Eric Carle Museum
On Tuesday, June 12, Kaki will be joining a team of industry thought leaders including Barbara Deutsch (CEO of the Landscape Architecture Foundation), Beka Sturges (Reed Hilderbrand), Kimberly Driggins (City of Detroit), Shauna Gillies-Smith (Ground), Gina Ford (Agency) and Diana Fernandez (Sasaki) to discuss equity and inclusion in the built environment and also LAF's New Landscape Declaration.
You can learn more and register for this free event here.
We are excited to announce that the Boston Society of Landscape Architects has honored KMDG with two design awards. Both Fisher Hill Reservoir Park and Suffolk University’s Roemer Plaza have won Merit Awards for Design.
Fisher Hill Reservoir Park
The project captured an important opportunity to transform an abandoned piece of public infrastructure into a public park for passive and active recreation. The distinctive landforms and architecture of this former Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) facility were retained and integrated into a park serving new functions.
"love that the topography was kept as a repurposed landscape remnant." -bsla jury
Elements such as a wall and topographic marker indicating the high-water mark, allow visitors to experience ‘plunging’ into the former watersheet of the full reservoir. Granite pavers with a carved map of the state-wide water supply system, of which the reservoir was a part, help contextualize this place in the state and neighborhood, and illustrate how our water resources are still delivered. The fully accessible path network allows universal access to the various artful play elements, prospect points, and diverse, native, woodland and meadow plantings that give the park scale, seasonal interest, and ensure a rich botanical future.
See more of the project here.
Roemer Plaza at Suffolk University
The redesigned Roemer Plaza transformed an underutilized 1960s era open space into a multi-functional, university plaza, that provides flexible circulation and much needed campus gathering spaces within a tight urban fabric. When Suffolk University purchased Massachusetts’s Metropolitan District Commission’s (MDC) property on Boston’s historic Beacon Hill, their proposed new building presented the design team an opportunity to re-envision the adjacent run-down plaza.
"the human scale of the space and careful three dimensional study of the stair and terracing are well done, adding a lot of value to this space." -bsla jury
Identifying the need for a campus identity and connectivity through this space, the design approach addressed the topographical and structural constraints of the site. With the plaza sited above an existing structure, the design features an amphitheater of stairs and seating that reconnects the existing upper and lower plaza levels to facilitate stronger circulation and provide a seating/stage relationship that allows Suffolk University to hold outdoor campus events. Pockets for plantings were carefully coordinated to work with the existing structural loads. Our commemoration strategy focused on the great places that are a result of the MDC. Eighty MDC place names are raised from a black granite plinth centered in the plaza. In addition to the plinth, panels standing 12’ tall and 175’ long, exhibit historic maps, plans and photographs highlighting important MDC projects around the greater Boston area.
See more of the project here.
KMDG joined the BSLA and a team of interdisciplinary designers for a one-day charette to help the City of Chelsea envision opportunities for short and long-term improvements to Chelsea Square.
The focus was on how to better activate this important public space to serve the Chelsea of today and tomorrow while looking to incorporate public art, and building upon the culture and history of site. The results of the day-long charette were then shared with the public at Mystic Brewery.
As part of Cambridge's ongoing Urban Gardening Series, Kaki and Zachary Navarro of Essex Horticulture gave a presentation on our work at Fresh Pond Reservation which will be finishing up later this year. The design features the use of hummocks as a strategy to help minimize the impact of storm events, extensive bio retention basins, moving the perimeter road away from the reservoir and relocating the community gardens so they are more accessible. Stay tuned for more updates as we will be announcing once the project is officially opened to the public.
We are excited to hear The Steel Yard was recently named a Champion in Action® for Community Arts by Citizens Bank and Providence's NBC 10. Congratulations to the whole team and the work you do to foster creative and economic opportunities for the greater Providence community!
See more about The Steel Yard's Champion in Action® award here.
Image via The Steel Yard
Congratulations to Touloukian Touloukian and team for winning a 2017 BSA Honor Award for Design Excellence for the Fisher Hill Reservoir Gatehouse and Comfort Station.
Check out the recent National Trust for Historic Preservation article on Saving Places featuring Fisher Hill Reservoir Park. The article describes the work by Touloukian Touloukian that went into preserving the historic gatehouse from studying existing buildings built by the architect of the gatehouse, Arthur Vinal, to the details of matching paint colors and the spacing of muntins. Read the full article here.
Our work at The Steel Yard has recently been featured on CURBED and Architecture & Design in Australia as an example of adaptive reuse. See below for links to the articles.
The newly redesigned Central Square Park in East Boston is now open to the public. Mayor Marty Walsh was in attendance for the ribbon cutting officially marking the opening of this historic square. Working with Howard Stein Hudson, the City and community of East Boston the design highlights this historic Olmsted Brother's landscape while addressing the needs of the East Boston community today.
Learn more about the project here.
This weekend we participated in a community design charrette with members from the Morningside neighborhood in Detroit as part of the Give a Park, Get a Park competition. It was great to be on the ground with so many wonderful people and we are excited to see what comes from an engaging community event!