Sep 25, 201309:00 AMPoint of View

The METROPOLIS Blog

The Landscape Architect's Guide to Boston

The Landscape Architect's Guide to Boston

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

Courtesy Susannah Ross, ASLA, Sasaki Associates

(page 1 of 4)

Why is Boston one of the best cities to live in? Why is it also one of the most sustainable cities in North America? We argue it's because of this city’s legacy of great parks and open spaces. To enable visitors and locals alike to truly understand this, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has created the Landscape Architect's Guide to Boston.

The guide, which has both a web and mobile version, features tours of 100 historic and contemporary landscapes across Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline created by 28 local landscape architects. We highlight the landscapes accessible via public transit, so we didn't include all sites. We sought to include a representative collection across many neighborhoods. The guide is divided into 26 distinct tours, which each include a printable walking or biking map for easy exploration.

With a click of their computer or tap of their smartphones, visitors and locals alike can now deepen their knowledge of landscape architecture through expert commentary and more than 1,100 images.

Boston has long been a trendsetter when it comes to urban design and sustainability. Indeed, the city ranks in the top 10 nationally for sustainability, park space, and quality of life, in large part because its designed landscapes are integral to its urban fabric.

Its landscape architects have played a crucial role in making the city a better place to live, starting in the late 19th century, when Frederick Law Olmsted designed the Emerald Necklace, to today’s generation of practitioners who are creating waterfront parks and beloved green spaces.

So the guide highlights historic parks created by Olmsted and other early innovators, like the Back Bay Fens and The Riverway, which are some of the first examples of green infrastructure. As Marion Pressley, FASLA, Pressley Associates, explains in the tour, Olmsted created these sites to not only deal with sanitation and stormwater, but also provide a respite from urban living. This was early multi-functional infrastructure. It’s still an influential model for landscape architects everywhere. 

Back Bay Fens.

Courtesy Alex Maclean / Landslides

The Riverway. 

Courtesy Marion Pressley, FASLA, Pressley Associates

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