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Merit Award - DESIGN

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Battle Road Trail, Minute Man National Historical Park
Concord, Lincoln, Lexington, MA

Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc.
 

Kyle Zick, ASLA
Senior Associate, Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc.
1100 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel. 617-868-6115;
Fax 617-864-7890
kzick@crja.com


Project Purpose

The purpose of the project was to provide safe visitor access to seventeen historic sites within the Battle Road Unit of Minute Man National Historical Park Hand in hand with providing safe visitor access, the designers were charged with rehabilitating the current landscape to better represent the landscape of April 19, 1775 (the day the American Revolution began) in order to improve visitor understanding and interpretation of the site.

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect was subconsultant to the project architects as part of an architectural indefinite quantities contract with the National Park Service, but served as the lead designer in a multidisciplinary project that included environmental graphics, architecture, civil engineering, and electrical engineering.

Special Factors (existing conditions and design philosophy)

Prior to this project the landscape of the "running battle" of April 19 was comprised of 5 miles of state highway and local roads accessing the 17 historic sites. Twenty thousands cars per day traveled past and through these sites and therefore hindered pedestrian visitation. In addition, much of the historic scene or cultural landscape that would help the visitor understand the 18th century appearance of the landscape was obscured by 20th century context, i.e. successional forest cover, modem ranch-style houses or asphalt.

The National Park Service had developed a preliminary alignment for the five mile trail, however, many difficulties needed to be addressed by the designers including crossing seven wetlands in three different towns, safely crossing state highways and local roads, addressing short term land ownership issues through phasing, and traversing steep topography.

 

 

The approach from the start of the project was to design the trail to be universally accessible, appropriate in the historic scene, and environmentally responsible. Furthermore, an early decision to support the story of April 19,1775 would drive all design decisions. In other words, the visitor on the trail would be cognizant of the April 19 timeline. Visitors would be able to understand their location in respect to the battle, as well as how many troops were engaged, how far the troops had traveled from the North Bridge in Concord, and how far they still had to retreat to Boston Harbor.

Significance and Special Features:

The entire trail is universally accessible despite seven wetland crossings, one hundred ten feet of grade change, and the crossing of a state highway. Part of the strategy for universal accessibility was the use of a binder to "glue" together the crushed stone and sand used for the trail surfacing. This was the first large-scale use of this binder in New England. This material allowed the trail to be constructed of native materials, compatible with historic materials, all the while providing universal accessibility. This binder also allowed the original Battle Road surface, determined by archeologists to be a mixture of sand and clay to be reinstalled along the original Battle Road alignment. Where the trail follows the original Battle Road alignment a historically accurate mixture of clay and sand was used for the trail surfacing; however, all new trails were deliberately constructed differently, out of sand and crushed stone, so visitors could distinguish the two.

The boardwalks on the project were a very important design element because they were an obvious modem addition to the landscape. They had to be designed in the most environmentally sensitive way in order to ensure permitting approval. The approach included boardwalk designs that specified the minimum width for two way accessible travel (five feet), kept the finished deck elevations low enough as to not require handrails, used recycled plastic posts to avoid chemical leaching in the groundwater, and provided clearance below the boardwalks for wildlife access.


2001 Award Winners
Press Release

 

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