This proposal for transforming Morrissey Boulevard and Harbor Point over the next 100 years draws inspiration from the topographic and land-use patterns of 1600s Boston. At that time, Mill Creek linked Mill Pond, to the north, with Boston Harbor, to the south (see historic map). By controlling the changing water levels in Mill Pond’s tidal basin, Mill Creek powered its adjacent mills with its rush of water between the pond and the harbor, thereby sustaining industries in Boston’s bustling port city.

Application / Concept
Today Boston’s circumstances and scale are different, but its same core land-use principles can be applied to the Morrissey Boulevard District, while adding opportunity to Columbia Point’s evolving urban fabric. We propose a new system of waterways to increase Columbia Point’s resilience to climate change, generate sustainable energy, and provide an expanded, improved public realm. A new Hydrokinetic Canal is this urban plan’s centerpiece.

A New Canal: Morrissey Canal – The New Urban Armature
We propose a new water system of canals, basins, harbors and breakaways to cut through Columbia Point, linking Old Harbor (to the north) to Savin Hill Cove and the mouth of the Neponset River (to the south). The system is organized along a new canal (Morrissey Canal) with regularly positioned sluices to let water flow freely between these two bodies of water. Turbines are strategically located to capture the flow of water as an energy-generating force as water levels change throughout the day, as well as when major storms enter Boston Harbor. Located 15 feet below a realigned Morrissey Boulevard, the new canal basin features walkways, paths, bridges, and other public amenities, creating a rich environment for recreation. Within the basin, a deeper canal cut channels water during all seasons.

Urban Catch Basins – Mixing Community Farming and Native Species
As storm levels rise more frequently, the lower canal level cannot contain water exclusively. So its three large basins provide additional water containment capacity of more than 25 million gallons each. Gates and sluices along the canal and between the basins regulate water levels between each basin until optimum equilibrium is found. After floods, water is pumped up to higher levels using energy stored from the hydrokinetic turbines. These basins otherwise support urban agriculture, native cordgrass, and local edible saltmarsh plants: glasswort, sea blite, beach plum, wild rice, etc. Community gardens occupy the higher levels of the basin’s terraced topography, while native species dominate lower levels (up to 30 feet deep).

Morrissey Boulevard Revisited – Divide and Conquer
Morrissey Boulevard has only two roads feeding Columbia Point. So we propose a network of streets, like the Back Bay or South End, to allow cars multiple Columbia Point access routes. This would shave two lanes off Morrissey and straighten its path from the Roundabout to Pattens Cove. Morrissey’s profile could now accommodate bike and pedestrian lanes and tree-lined greensward borders.

The New Harbor – Linked to the Olde Harbor
To help funnel water into the new canal, while creating a new waterfront amenity linked to Carson Beach, a “New Harbor” is carved out of the Bayside Expo Center site, creating valuable new frontage for housing and other uses, and potentially an Olympic Village. “Floating Architecture” can be tethered to the new harbor’s marina-like fingers. Non-floating buildings are raised high above its boardwalk.
Company Name
Paul Lukez Architecture

Team Member(s)
Paul Lukez FAIA LEED AP, Architect
David Orndorff, Designer
Josh McDonald, Deisnger
Alison Malouf, Design Intern
Matt Uminski, Graphic Designer
Matt Soble, Intern