Kenmore Triangle

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A creative urban design solution reconstructs this gateway to historic Boston, introducing an expansive public plaza and hotel tower on an unusual site. This landscape eases vehicle circulation while protecting pedestrians and cyclists.

While the extension of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue beyond Charlesgate in the latter part of the 19th century predicted a new growth pattern for Boston and Brookline, their awkward intersection at Kenmore Square acquired neither the spatial quality nor the cultural identity of a great urban square. Fast moving lanes of commuter traffic have dominated the space for more than 100 years. The proposed 560 Commonwealth Avenue project redefines the heart of the neighborhood, activating a critical flashpoint for the city’s cultural life and forming a more distinctive gateway to the Back Bay and downtown from Greater Boston’s western reaches.

Analysis by urban planner Jeff Speck revealed an unseen development opportunity: Reorganizing the street system could vastly increase the supply of public space in the square while reprioritizing highly active pedestrian and bicycle realms in ways consistent with important national trends that favor walkability and sidewalk activation. The introduction of a short new block to manage vehicle traffic yields a plaza of more than half an acre at the middle of the square. From the plaza, Studio Gang’s iconic 300-foot “flatiron” hotel tower, which tapers towards a narrow footprint to produce more usable public right-of-way, rises as a landmark presence and announces a renewed civic landscape amid increasingly vibrant institutional, commercial, retail, entertainment, and cultural uses.

The proposal includes a broad shaded plaza organized for dining and lingering, active programming, and the accommodation of massive crowds passing through on close to 100 Red Sox game days annually. The hotel planning includes ground-floor food and beverage venues that spill onto the plaza in good weather, continuing and expanding a grand Kenmore neighborhood tradition. Public realm commitments include the provision of adequate volumes of high-performance soils to eventually support a fully-mature hardwood tree canopy on the plaza. This is transformative for Kenmore Square.

Location

Boston MA

Dates

2018-

Size

4 acres

Leadership

Team