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American Society of Landscape Architects


October 2004 Issue

User-Friendly in Boston
This park is a potpourri of styles theoretically linked by a theme. That doesn't stop the public from loving it.

By Marty Carlock

User-Friendly in Boston Stephen M.Lee Photography

Two small public parks stand side by side on the waterfront in South Boston, a contrast in philosophies. Eastport Park, the creation of a major corporation, is elegant and aesthetically unified. South Boston Maritime Park, built by Massachusetts Port Authority, is funky, diverse, and committed to a variety of uses. Both incorporate the work of public-art makers. Both were designed by the landscape architecture firm Halvorson Design Partnership of Boston.

Strictly on an aesthetic basis, Eastport Park outshines its companion (see "People's Park or Disposable Landscape," Landscape Architecture, March 2004). Eastport, a sculpture park in the truest sense, is leased from the Massachusetts Port Authority (MassPort) by Fidelity Investments, Inc., which chose the sculptor whose work pervades the space. The newer space, the $6.8 million Maritime Park is, let's face it, a potpourri of styles and ideas theoretically linked by a theme, the seaport.

But for user-friendliness, the new park may become the champ. It has two tremendous advantages: a café and clean public bathrooms, a rarity in this city. Maritime Park's very heterogeneity promises comfortable nooks in all weathers and seasons, and its scattering of odd nautical factoids will keep the habitual user entertained for many visits.

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