The site’s landscape design revolves around sheltering the entire greenway system from the wind; specifically, from the noise and air pollutants carried from I-93. A phytoforest is positioned at the southern end of the new park, filtering asthma-causing particulate matter from the air. Phytoremediation tree species are planted in undulating mounds that lift the ground surface, evoking the rolling summits of the Blue Hills to the south. The elevated landform and planting also provides an opportunity to add a digital art lighting element within the tree canopy. The ‘Gateway Art’ would be visible at night, a floating beacon in the city above the entrance to the Sumner Tunnel. This lighting element could communicate a digital representation of an interesting piece of Boston data, such as the number cars passing by in the tunnel underneath, or the amount of rainfall that day. The idea is to create a memorable place-making moment to both start and end the Greenway, within a working urban hedgerow that filters air pollution for the city. All the plantings proposed would be native species, providing a pollinator resource and seed-source to help colonize the city with native plants.
An urban plaza within a canopy of trees anchors the new park on the northern end of the site. This plaza, centered on an interactive art sculpture, is enclosed by European-style café seating along the face of the building to the east and a grand staircase and grassy hillside to the south. The plaza allows the opportunity for rotating food kiosks and micro-retail destinations at this grounding point of the Greenway.
At the top of the staircase, a raised terrace overlooks the plaza and allows cyclists access to bicycle storage facilities within the building. At the center of the site, across from the grassy hillside, a picnic lawn bounded on three sides by trees and vegetation opens to Albany Street and an architectural trellised stage that can be utilized for shaded seating and other programming. Between the lawn and stage, a primary walk cuts across the site from the middle of the street to the southwest corner of the building, prioritizing pedestrian movements to the South Station Connector. The path threads through the tree-mounds, a series of large, tilted planting beds visible to visitors from the entire Greenway system.
Rainwater, collected from the roof and stored in a tank within the building, is ‘made visible’ in the landscape. Near the southwest corner of the building, the rainwater is collected and cascades over the façade into a stormwater basin, aerating the water while muffling the sound of the highway beyond. A runnel of water leaves the stormwater basin and follows along the edge of the primary walk to another water feature in the plaza, being cleansed by vegetation as it moves through the landscape. This water element will make visible the climate change projection that global warming will likely cause more frequent, heavier rain events in Boston, and will emphasize the ephemeral nature of stormwater when it gushes in such events.
The Kneeland Street and South Station Connector sidewalk will be widened and lined with trees and places to sit, while the Albany Street sidewalk will be expanded to accommodate MassDOT’s planned multi-use path. The new park, with its urban plaza, gateway art moment, and ‘Blue Hills silhouette’ will create a public space dialogue between the existing Greenway and its newly created terminus.