franklin park valley
a series of communal nested spaces
Throughout Boston, there are many parks, urban wilds, and wildlife sanctuaries that contribute to the ecological diversity of the city. These spaces provide homes for many species, including migratory birds traveling along the Atlantic Flyway. The Emerald Necklace, designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, is the most notable park space in Boston’s ecological network. This chain of parks stretches across the metropolitan area, linking many neighborhoods together. Franklin Park, the largest park in the chain, is considered the “crown jewel” of this park system.
However, over the years, the lack of maintenance and shifting management of Franklin Park has resulted in derelict conditions. The woodlands are overgrown, invasive species cover the ground, the pond’s aquatic habitat is suffering, and the once expansive meadow has been taken over by a golf course, leaving just a few disconnected patches of meadow space. In its current state, this vast park in the middle of Boston does not serve its full ecological and communal potential.
The true value of a large city park is its potential to support a thriving habitat for a diverse set of species while also supporting its local community. This new intervention in Franklin Park aims to reclaim underused space and transform it into an environment that simultaneously creates a rich habitat for Boston’s wildlife and facilitates diverse activities for the surrounding neighborhoods.
Location: Boston, MA | Year: 2020 | Institute: University of Virginia | Type: individual academic project | Advisor: John Kett
a cultural ecotone
Franklin Park sits between four diverse neighborhoods - Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and Jamaica Plain. Given its unique location, it has the potential to become a cultural ecotone - a transitional zone between all the surrounding communities. At the heart of the park lays a large open area called County Park. This design investigates how County Park can be an active core for the community, creating a rich ecological habitat while promoting a shared experience between people from diverse backgrounds. This new intervention utilizes the valley space to host a diverse set of functions while promoting ecological engagement as a means for cultural exchange.
Today, the Country Park is underutilized, both from a human and ecological standpoint. Currently, an 18-hole golf course occupies this 100-acre open green space, supporting a limited number of users throughout the year and offering little to no habitat for wildlife. Given that participation in golf is rapidly declining throughout the nation, there is an opportunity to reclaim this vast space. This new design supports many people and creatures by phasing out golf and introducing wildlife spaces, new pathways, and four unique areas for the community to gather.
1. existing conditions
taken over by the expansive golf course, few disconnected patches of meadow space remain
the golf course is returned to a continuous meadow, connecting views across the park
the small wetland ecosystem is extended through the valley and deepened to improve the habitat
new paths follow the topography along the meadow edges to connect people across the park
spaces nested in the folds of the hills host a variety of activities without obstructing views
a boardwalk bridges between the spaces connecting people to the wetland experience
The Alcove is an intimate seating space situated in the middle of the valley. The angled seating is carved from the base of the hill with a small water channel, carrying water from the hill to the wetland.
The Cascades is composed of three large grass tiers that step down a fold in the valley. This space gradually welcomes people into the valley and can be used for various programs, including group gatherings, picnicking, kite flying, and events.
The Clearing is a flat platform extending from the base of the hill where the tree canopy opens. This space provides the community with a flexible open space to support various programs, events, and day-to-day gatherings.
The Grandstand is a large amphitheater that the community can use for festivals and events. This large seating area overlooks the pond and accentuates the folds along the hillside.