Holcim Foundation


Reconnecting green urban infrastructure

Restoring a critical link in Boston’s regional park system

The extensive Emerald Necklace park system is one of Boston’s distinctive urban amenities. Highway expansion beginning in the 1960s severed the system at various points. Today, a broad-based project aims to repair one of the most important and heavily affected sections of parkland.

Marie Law Adams and Dan Adams intend to reverse some of that damage – and restore the integrity of a key section of parkland to its original level. The founding principals of Landing Studio architecture studio specialize in improving urban infrastructure and the public realm.

We look at the area as an urban ecology wherein all the elements are tied together in various ways. We are redesigning Charlesgate in such a way that every element operates in concert with the others. Ideally, all the elements will even benefit from one another. A core element of the project is water management. Currently, surface runoff flows unfiltered into the Muddy River and Charles River, and the rich nutrients of the runoff water promote algae growth that deplete oxygen levels in water and release CO2 into the rivers and ultimately into the ocean.

The fresh approach will channel stormwater into constructed wetlands where for natural filtration before reaching the rivers, and captured nutrients will serve as fertilizer for the wetlands. The architects are using the existing sewer systems to the greatest extent possible and adding new lines only where necessary. Roadway runoff, which is typically heavily polluted, is pre-treated in catch basins before being fed into the wetlands.

The wetlands not only serve as a filter zone, they are a recreational amenity for park visitors. The flora, which will grow lush in the future, will also help to establish and increase local biodiversity. Trees will hide the over-passing roads as much as possible, to make Charlesgate an appealing urban recreational park.

Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace was a pioneering model of urban green infrastructure from the 1880s that has been fragmented by elevated highways built in the last century. This urban operation restores the Charlesgate green area as a critical link in Boston’s regional park system across 1km of new shared-use pathways, over 20km of reconnected greenway and 300m of restored shoreline.

Read the full interview:

“Plural infrastructure – Emerald Gateway in Massachusetts” in Sixth Holcim Awards

Last Updated: July 08, 2022
Article Details
Boston, MA, USA
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Emerald Gateway in Massachusetts – Author Comment
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Author comment by Marie Law Adams and Dan Adams of Landing Studio, Somerville MA, USA on Emerald Gateway in Massachusetts …

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An urban revitalization to mend a symbiotic urban green infrastructure in Boston.

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