Alec Spangler
landscape architecture
Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, Boston, MA
Derby Square, Salem, MA
Somerville High School, Somerville, MA
Harvard Graduate School of Design MLA 1st Semester Core Studio
Studio Coordinators Michael Blier and Emily Waugh
New students in the MLA 1 program, fall 2009, began their studio work with a graphic analysis of one aspect or section of the recently (mostly) completed Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, which caps the Central Artery highway tunnel, product of the infamous "Big Dig," in downtown Boston. My project focused on the blocks of parkland that interface directly with the underground, in that they contain entrance ramps and other visible infrastructure. A series of exploded axonometric, section, and plan drawings show the complex spatial relationship between structures for transit and structures for recreation.
This was followed by the first real design studio, which called upon students to rework Derby Square, in Salem, MA, linking a small plaza surrounding the historic City Hall building with a long, narrow lot across the the street containing seasonal market stalls. I structured mydesign around a visually engaging stormwater system, incising the site with a series of grate-toped channels planted with rush grass. The lower block became a new flexible public space with a water retention basin as a focal point.
Closing the first semester, the new class took on Somerville High School, a block of public program that also includes the City Hall and Somerville Public Library. Serving an unusually dense city, the site is also in a position to satisfy some of the general need for accessible public space. Students were challenged to accommodate these major uses while connecting to a planned commuter rail station at the base of a steep grade behind the school buildings. My approach was to begin with a matrix of naturalized meadow, followed by a cutting in of specific program areas, which could be adjusted to meet changing demands. The steep "back" of the site was regraded with accessible paths to present arriving train commuters to a re-oriented civic hub.