Boston is primarily crafted as a late nineteenth-century ideal, compromised by twentieth-century anamorphic juxtapositions, creating dialectic tensions and disjointed somatic concepts. These are further magnified across a manifold of property programs, resulting in structural and social polyfurcations that disproportionately affect residential neighborhoods.
Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace is emblematic of a unification counterbalance that embraces communities. Implemented through 1900, it wove a manufactured landscape into a rapidly growing urban environment – and in the process, connecting industrial, commercial, residential, institutional and recreational uses and socio-economic typologies.
In addition to providing an aesthetic weight, the system provided a cultural, recreational and health aspect to an industrial landscape. Linking the Back Bay, Fenway, Jamaica Plain and Defroster, the project was originally planned to continue from Franklin Park east along Columbia Road to the Old Harbor, wasn’t completed.
Our proposal is to complete the Emerald Necklace, using a new route along Columbia Road and then continuing through the Fairmount rail line right-of-way to the Fort Point Channel.
Using permaculture-based designs, we work with the approximately 150 foot elevational change from Franklin Park to the Channel and the resources of a Zone outlined through our design. This Zone works with the existing uses; empty and underused adjacent plots are turned into green spaces that enliven the new park extension, vast industrial areas are given a pedestrian scale while retaining practical use programs and neighborhood centers are strengthened and complemented.
In modern constructions, we have systematically denied the role of industry out of our urban centers where once they were heralded as state of the art and integrated into the fabric.
Industry is now considered dirty and polluting. Physical creation is shunned. Those who move bytes around are revered. Those who partake in such antiquated activities as manufacturing are relegated to the sociocultural sidelines, no longer the star of the stage.
Honest labor builds strong families and communities. It is a collaborative system that forces direct, physical interaction among participants. And our city has shunned these activities that provide the economic foundation for long-term sustainability versus the rush to short-term profits of “intellectual capital” at the expense of diminished communities, families and individuals, fueling multi-generational disengagement and disillusionment.
As with the original Emerald Necklace, our proposal provides a passive system to complement the natural environment by using rainwater runoff and waste water from the surrounding buildings and transporting it along the new green corridor, capturing the energy of the flow and releasing it back for regenerative uses.
The clean water is integrated into the design by using it for artistic water features such as a waterfall over the train line and feeding a public recreational park to support a new industrial/ worker neighborhood providing housing in celebration of the worker at the “mouth” of the system at Fort Point channel. The waste water is carried along the route to a neighborhood-integrated treatment plant, also feeding the recreational area.
More importantly, it provides formalized quick passage along it route of disenfranchised neighborhoods to ecological treasures and revokes mental illusions of worker-areas and well-to-do centers, providing not only a naturalistic counterbalance but a sociocultural one as well.