A Citizen’s Vision for Allston Landing
From the 19th-century Watertown dam to Boston Harbor, the Charles River winds its way in front of some of the best education and health sciences institutions in the world, along densely packed neighborhoods with picturesque sailboats and rowing shells skimming along the water’s surface, and past its bridges, lagoons, and such beloved venues as the Hatch Shell, the Community Boat House and the Boston Museum of Science. The Charles is an attractive, connective ten-mile corridor running through the heart of our urban area.
Except for a stretch right in the center of this corridor.
In Allston, between the River Street and BU bridges, competing needs of rail, turnpike and Soldiers Field Road have reduced the park to a narrow, dangerous sidewalk along the river’s edge.
Massive redevelopment will need to occur. Together, we can use needed environmental and water quality improvements within an integrated open space framework to turn this blighted land into a shiny new gem of an urban district, a centerpiece of this place we call Boston … an example for the world.
Design Principles and Objectives
- Improve water quality and open space while balancing the goals of the owner (MassDOT) with the open space objectives of all concerned: the stakeholders, the greater Allston-Boston-Cambridge community, and the river environment.
- Apply progressive urban design goals, for this is a major city building exercise that seeks to make Allston Landing an integrated, street-activated, identity-rich neighborhood on a site larger than the Prudential Center and Copley Place combined.
- Integrate Allston Landing into its surrounding urban fabric by designing a road network that makes strong bus, bike and pedestrian connections to and from Commonwealth Avenue both north and south, as well as east-west connections to other points in the city.
- Facilitate air-rights development, greater connectivity to surrounding areas, and lower investment-capital and maintenance costs by rebuilding the Mass Pike at-grade.
- Incorporate a significant amount of affordable workforce housing into the mixed-use development to create a vibrant 24/7 neighborhood.
- Incorporate public open space per existing Allston metrics: 5 acres of protected open space per 1,000 residents.
Develop a continuous and uninterrupted esplanade along the Charles River with both pedestrian and bicycle paths, as part of the larger regional circulation network.
- Create a large, open public gathering space by rebuilding Soldiers Field Road at least 300 feet away from the Charles River, creating a flexible-use, high activity park with a river inlet.
- Create a multipurpose green landscape and storm water management corridor that connects the Allston community to the Charles River with pedestrian and bicycle paths, in a way that avoids vehicular conflicts.
- Connect the Commuter Rail’s Allston Station to the river in a direct, accessible, visually attractive manner.
Make the “Throat” a unique, engaging urban design feature of Boston that can serve as a model for riverside and waterfront development throughout the country and the world.
- Incorporate narrow streets and paths into the vision to form Allston Landing into a rich pedestrian urban environment.