By Dan Murphy
While addressing the crowd at the Beacon Hill Civic Association’s 95th annual meeting at the Union Club on May 15, keynote speaker Miguel Rosales said he never anticipated the indelible impression that the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge would have on the city.
“I knew that it was a nice bridge, but I never thought it would become this famous,” said Rosales, a longtime neighborhood resident who served as the project’s lead designer and architect during his presentation, “Crossing the Charles River.”
Rosales, who went on to establish the award-winning Boston firm Rosales Partners Transportation Design, said the innovative, cable-stayed bridge that helped transform the once gritty area around the old Boston Garden into a vibrant city neighborhood takes a visual cue from the Bunker Hill Monument. To commemorate its 15th anniversary, Rosales announced he is currently working with the Zakim family to tentatively close the bridge to vehicular traffic for one day next year so it can be enjoyed by pedestrians.
As lead architect for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s ongoing restoration and rehabilitation of Longfellow Bridge, Rosales describes the nearly 111-year-old structure as “the most beautiful, historic bridge in Boston.” The Longfellow, which Rosales said is reminiscent of European bridges, is currently traversed by 90,000 commuters on the train each day, as well as 20,000 drivers and countless pedestrians and bicyclists. When completed, its “salt-and-pepper” towers, which mark the navigational channels, will be illuminated.
“The Longfellow has been featured in so many paintings and postcards, and so many elements from it have been used in other bridges, that it has changed the culture,” Rosales said.
A critical component of the ongoing Longfellow rehabilitation project, Rosales also detailed plans for the proposed pedestrian Frances “Fanny” Appleton Bridge that would cross Storrow Drive at Charles Circle.
Today, Rosales is also architect for the proposed steel-arch replacement of the North Washington Street/Charlestown Bridge that spans the delta of the Charles River to connect City Square in Charlestown with the North End. It will include overlooks offering unobstructed views of the Zakim, the Monument and other nearby landmarks and become the first bridge in Boston to incorporate trees and landscaping into its design. Bidding is expected to go out for the project this year, with construction expected to be completed in a piecemeal manner over five or six years, Rosales said.
The Civic Association awarded the 20th annual Beacon Award to mother-and-daughter Elsie and Jeannette Hermann in acknowledgment of their “significant and sustained” contributions to the community.
“It is great honor to share this honor with my mother, who has taught me how to advocate for my community and pull my weight,” said Jeannette, who previously served as president and chair of the Civic Association’s board of directors.
Mark Kiefer, current board chair, said he aspired “to bring the amazing level of energy, hard work and intelligence [the Hermanns] have brought to the community.”
Ben Starr, returning clerk, announced the slate of other officers for the new fiscal year, including returning board chair and president, Kiefer and Suzanne Besser, respectively, and Emi Winterer, a board newcomer who will serve as treasurer.
Also new to the board are Ronn Bronzetti, Erik Erlingsson, Katherine Judge, Josh Leffler and Lauren Louison.
Returning directors include Leslie Adam, Meghan Awe, Thomas J. Clemens, John Corey, Christopher Donnelly, James Ewing, Russell Gaudreau, Keeta Gilmore, Richard, Ilgen, Rajan Nanda, Maura Smith, Charlotte B. Thibodeau, Rachel Thurlow, Eve Waterfall, Robert A. Whitney, Stephen Young and Colin Zick.
Departing board members are John Achatz and Ania Camargo, who both formerly served as president and board chair; Diana Coldren; Paula O’Keeffe; and Michelle Vilms, who served as treasurer.