June 28, 2005
Image Courtesy Stephen Yablon
Stephen Yablon Architect, a New York
City firm, has won a competition to design a 2,500-square-foot
visitor center on Bostons Rose Kennedy Greenway. The
$3 million building will serve as a gateway to the Boston
Harbor Islands National Park, and is expected to be one of
the first structures to be completed on the greenway. The
pavilion is slated to open in 2007.
Yablons design is a sheer, glass box set on a stone
base surrounded by a shallow reflecting pool. It will contain
the parks visitor center, a cafe, and bookstore. Display
screens, visible from the interior and exterior, will be embedded
in the structure's walls.
While packing a complex program into a small space was no
easy task, visual and structural considerations also posed
a challenge, according to the firm's principal.
A key issue was how to evoke something of the Harbor
Islands environment, with its elemental simplicity of sky,
water, and rocky islands, says Yablon. A powerful,
simple design seemed appropriate. Although there are
no explicit references, Yablon says the designs influences
range from 19th Century glass exhibition halls to the experimental
work of Superstudio in the 1960s and 70s. The building siteatop
the Big Dig tunnel, required a lightweight structure
placed on a shallow foundation, he adds.
The Greenways land was recently recovered by the dismantling
of Bostons Central Artery highway. It comprises a 30-acre
crescent that runs from North Station to Chinatown. The Greenway's
parks are expected to be completed in 2007 at the earliest.
Ted Smalley Bowen