Tag Archives: Rose Kennedy Greenway

How to save the Greenway? Make it a neighborhood

Robert Campbell brings us this story on Boston‘s Rose Kennedy Greenway.  The Greenway is the result of Boston’s Big Dig, where they put a section of I-93 underground and built a linear park on top of it.  The problem is, the Greenway is little more than nice landscaping (not even great landscaping).  It is often devoid of pedestrian life while neighboring areas such as Quincy Market are vibrant and alive.  “There are things to look at but nothing to do,” Campbell says.  He proposes that the Greenway be turned into a neighborhood, first by building housing along the edges of the park and working to attract restaurants and cafes.  Planning documents that show some of these ideas are just now starting through the Boston City Hall, many years after they could have been best implemented.  Old planning laws made recommendations such as having a minimum of 75% public open space, which doesn’t leave much room for private buildings or the people who live in and patronize them.  It may be too late to redo the Greenway in the best way possible, but making its edges alive will help to turn it into a more desirable place.  It was a good idea to cover I-93, but this was only going halfway to making this part of Boston a real neighborhood, like it used to be.

Greenway in need of density

Frederick A. Kramer and Lynn Wolff bring us this article on Boston‘s Rose Kennedy Greenway project.  Attendees at recent meetings have noted a need for food markets, cafes and public shelters.  The writers argue that Boston’s Redevelopment Athority must make a bold move regarding density to make sure that this project is successful.  Americans have a phobia of density, understandably based on the misuse of density by past government projects which has contributed to crime and urban decline.  We need to get over that.  Density isn’t inherently bad.  Although there are issues with a lack of light and “canyonization,” we can mitigate these negative effects by better design.  The writers advocate tall buildings, which, compared to what most Americans want, I would agree with, but as I’ve mentioned before, I agree with Christopher Alexander that buildings should rarely be above four stories.  But we have seen, by the creative work of those such as Moule & Polyzoides, that you can have inovative density within this limit.  The writers go on to say that a mix of transit options and uses, the fundamental elements of TOD, need to be included in the project.  I think that this is a great project, and I’m glad to see smart people working to make sure that it works out.