COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Rose Kennedy Greenway "A Design Disaster"

Ethan Kent
Apr 29, 2010
Dec 14, 2017
One of the "placeless" blocks of Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Jane Jacobs made famous the isolating effect of Boston's Central Artery on Boston's North End.   As she is celebrated this weekend with Jane's Walks around the world, the situation in Boston reminds us that few of her lessons have truly been learned by the professionals planning cities today.

As Jane Jacobs said, "People do not use city open space just because it is there and because  city planners and designers wish they would."

This week the Architecture critic for the Boston Globe tore apart the design of the Greenway, saying, "The Greenway is a design disaster."  We have been meaning to put this on our "Hall of Shame" but this critic has done it for us!:

The Greenway, by contrast [to Quincy Market], is placeless desert. It’s a series of  oversize shapeless spaces, none of which seems to have a purpose... There are things to look at but nothing to do.
 The Greenway serves effectively as a beautiful new median for the very   cars it was meant to replace.

The Boston Globe has been leading a pointed and educated discussion on the future of the greenway.  Last week the editorial board tried to point a way forward from what they describe as a failure on every front:

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway should  be a 21st-century complement to the Boston Common: A gathering place, a  town center, public ground. It can assume whatever form Bostonians  choose. An emerald necklace. A grand boulevard. A waterfront lawn.  It is now none of those things.

Last fall, they did a piece on the emerging strategy for planning parks around uses and programming, highlighting two of our recent projects, Discovery Green and Campus Martius.

More information: Greenway Quiet as Other Parks Draw Crowds.

Ethan Kent
Ethan Kent
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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space