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The potential for Boston to redefine its sea-edge as sea levels rise is the basis for our design proposal. Rather than trying to prevent the seawater from entering the city, our proposal welcomes the water and surrenders the outer streetscapes to a new urban seashore that is a focus of recreation, ecological reclamation and new cultural experiences. The Paris Plage along the summertime Seine is a model of this engagement with water. Our experience would be known as Boston Beach. The conversion of the first floors of the edge buildings, such as the Prince Building, is recompensed by granting the residents air rights to develop new micro-housing units over the abandoned Commercial Street. We expect that the residents would sell these rights to specialized developers who would implement the construction according to a new typology of Boston building. The multi-floor extensions, mimicking the piers that characterize the waterfront, would be 50% void, allowing for a new urban condition in which vertical courtyards create a new culture of community and urbanity without impeding access to view and air.

The vertical courtyards are ecologically vibrant. They sustain urban agriculture and maintain a lush environment of hanging gardens nourished by a continuous source of dripping water, fueled by a recirculating system of above-freezing sea water. This free cooling source also acts as an essential component of a heat pump system that tempers the ventilation systems in summer and winter creating comfortable living conditions year round at minimal expense of energy. A large scale screen of hanging plants unifies the “piers’ of housing into a coherent whole and protects the interior court from sun and wind. Rain water is collected, stored and re-sold to the MWRA for use in times of extreme drought.

The conversion of Commercial Street to a beach and grassland takes decades, beginning with the closing of the road, parking lots and garages along its length. Access to the commercial spaces and residences transitions from cars and trucks to bicycles and drones. Ground around coastal buildings is built up with drumlin-like berms. High and low cuisine meet in new beach-based food kiosks and the urban seashore becomes one of the nation’s top tourist attractions and serves as a world-wide model of successful integration of climate change.

Company Name

No affiliation

Team Member(s)
Stephanie Goldberg, AIA Architect/ Design
Mark Reed, AIA Architect/ Design