CENTRAL ARTERY/TUNNEL (CA/T) PARCEL 2 is a site of constant reinvention. It was once open water within the Charles River estuary, then was dammed to become “Mill Pond”, and then filled in as a part of the Bulfinch Triangle development in the 19th century. In the 20th century, the site was overshadowed by the elevated Interstate 93. Finally, after years of planning and construction (the famed “Big Dig”), I-93 was buried and in its place the The Central Artery/Tunnel Project delivered the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a corridor of parks, gardens and green spaces knitting together Boston’s oldest urban fabric. As the northernmost and last undeveloped park space on the Greenway, Parcel 2 Park is both the gateway to the Greenway and a “small but mighty” much-needed greenspace for its adjacent Boston Neighborhoods.
Found at the intersection of several lanes of traffic and built over the I-93 tunnel, Parcel 2 is a critical open space between the West End and North End neighborhoods of Boston. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic travels past the site at all hours. The site is small, its context is predominantly paved, and its constraints are many.
Working closely with Unknown Studio , the public engagement sessions revealed community priorities to “maximize nature”, create a place for serenity, and showcase the site’s history. Understanding the long arc of history on site, ASK+ and Unknown Studio imagined a tribute to the Charles River’s estuarine ecology, in identity, planting, and in atmosphere. The resulting concept, “This Was Once a Pond”, is a response to the neighbors’ desires for more nature and seasonal color, and more space to broaden the city’s natural areas.
The design abstracts the water’s edge into a place of tranquility, with native meadow plantings and a boomerang shaped boardwalk inviting neighbors to float across the meadow with percussive footsteps. The interior of the park is bounded by a sawtooth planter wall detail of granite reclaimed from the 19th century seawalls and Big Dig excavation. The planters are filled with native trees such as Sumac and Tupelo and an understory of perennials proven to thrive on the Greenway. These raised beds provide soil volumes necessary for over the tunnel and create a sense of enclosure and sound barrier from the passing traffic. It will be a neighborhood park, a place of respite for observing the seasonally changing meadow with the backdrop of downtown Boston. Go and enjoy Parcel 2, now known as the North Meadow on The Greenway.
Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA)
in partnership with
The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy
Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)
Pine & Swallow Environmental