landscape architecture
Government Center, Boston, MA
Kennedy Park, Fall River, MA
Harvard Graduate School of Design MLA 2nd Semester Core Studio
Studio Coordinator Anita Berrizbeitia
Instructor Jill Desimini
Students in the MLA I program completed 2 studio projects in their second semester, spring 2010: redesigns of City Hall Plaza, Government Center in Boston and Kennedy Park in Fall River, MA.
Accompanied by siteless studies in surface and material, the Government Center project was focused on the interplay between formal patterning and program. Appreciated as an important artifact of modernist design, but widely maligned for its programmatic and experiential shortcomings, City Hall Plaza is an ideal choice for a site in which to work through problems of scale, accessibility, variable occupancy, and perceptions of civic space. My strategy was to demarcate a smaller less imposing plaza-within-a-plaza with programmable light poles, which could be choreographed to compliment special events. The remaining area was subdivided and more densely programmed to alleviate the sense of vacancy so often associated with the current design.
The second half of the semester was devoted to re-imagining Kennedy Park in Fall River, MA. Called South Park when it was built in 1868, the Olmsted and Vaux designed city park sits on a dramatic slope leading to Mt. Hope Bay. The City of Fall river has long lacked the budget to maintain Kennedy Park as it was intended, thought it remains a well loved and highly trafficked public space. The studio challenged students to restructure the site such that the experiential potential of this unique landscape reads more clearly, is more closely integrated with use and program, and is maintainable by a city with modest means.
I chose to amplify the park's most iconic feature—its grand sloping prospect—by grading a series of drumlin features, a form common to the natural landscape of southern New England. Through the drumlins I choreographed a series of views culminating in an overlook to the Bay. At the high, flat east end of the park, I used the same landforms to organize the existing program of sports fields and to tie the site together formally. This topographical strategy enhances what is most successful about the existing site in a way that will persist even with sub-optimal maintenance practices.