Somerville Design Firm Selected to Help Revitalize Charlesgate Park

By Dan Murphy

A Somerville architectural and design firm has been contracted to create conceptual deigns intended to revitalize the erstwhile Charlesgate Park.

The ad hoc, nonprofit Charlesgate Alliance has contracted the Landing Studio to improve the “key link” created by venerable landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted that abuts Back Bay and Fenway and runs adjacent to Kenmore Square and unites the Charles River Esplanade, the Emerald Necklace and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall together into a single-park system. The state razed the park in the mid-1960s, however, to build the Bowker Overpass.

Dan Adams and Marie Law Adams, Landing Studio founding principals, said the firm intends to adopt similar approach to the project as it did with the recently completed Underground at the Ink Block project – a Massachusetts Department of Technology (MassDOT) “infraspace” initiative to better utilize the space below the South End viaduct.

And like Underground at the Ink Block, Dan Adams told neighbors in attendance at a public meeting at Boston University’s Kilachand Hall last week that the firm intends to “smart small” with temporary, one-day art installations that would take between 30 and 90 days to implement.

The firm has created digital models to identify hours of available sunlight and “plant-able” areas on the site, Like it did for the Ink Block project.

Dan Adams said the project would have to strike a balance beyween the “competing needs” of maintaining the highway infrastructure and upkeeping the park.

Marie Law Adams said the project also aims to highlight existing park elements and landscapes. “There’s quite a bit already in place, and we will see how we can make them more visible,” she said.

The Landing Studio, meanwhile, has split the site into five zones, and will look at opportunities and constraints of each one, as well as the site as a whole.

The next meeting on the project is tentatively scheduled for November or December, followed by another meeting in February or March of next year after the completion of the second art installation. Landing Studio is also slated to deliver its final report on the project and design options next March.

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