The University of Massachusetts Boston is sited on Columbia Point Peninsula, surrounded by ocean waters. However, the campus is currently inward-looking, confined by a one-way loop road. High traffic speeds and lack of crosswalks and sidewalks cuts the community off from the waterfront and the existing Harborwalk at the water's edge. Open space on campus is limited, and graduation occurs in a lawn area encircled by a drop-off road.
Sasaki collaborated with BVH Integrated Services to design a complete street network and landscape at UMass Boston associated with a new utility corridor. The new landscape covers 77 acres and reimagines the entire coastal edge of campus overlooking Boston Harbor. Sasaki’s design creates new spaces on campus for the UMass Boston community, pedestrians and bicyclists, and the public. Sustainability plays a major role in the design, where Sasaki incorporated multiple green infrastructure strategies including bioretention, reuse of on-site construction soils and materials, and native and naturalized plantings.
Sasaki’s design for the new roadway, complete streets, and landscape creates a memorable and iconic arrival sequence to the campus while connecting the campus to the waterfront. The existing road is transformed from a high-speed, one-way loop to a reduced-speed, two-way street with bicycle lanes and cycle tracks. Street trees define the edges of the new roads and sidewalks with seating and other amenities are present throughout. Raised pedestrian crosswalks help to slow traffic and provide numerous opportunities for the campus community to safely access the waterfront and Harborwalk. These pedestrian strategies are coupled with Universal Design principles across campus to provide an enhanced accessibility network. All water from paved surfaces is directed to a series of 11 bioretention basins integrated into the landscape design, improving water quality before reaching the storm sewer system. The design also boldly announces a new destination for major campus and community events including commencement, with stunning views to the Boston Harbor Islands and panoramic horizon.