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Built Environment Plus Highlights Restorative, Inclusive Design at UMass Boston’s New Harborwalk

Built Environment Plus (formerly USGBC Massachusetts Chapter) recently hosted a bicycle tour of Boston, highlighting important projects along Boston’s Harborwalk that promote ecological and human health, resilience, and placemaking. The bicycle tour began at Sasaki’s University of  Massachusetts (UMass) Boston Harborwalk Park. Sasaki landscape architect Ian Scherling, ASLA  presented the 77-acre landscape project to the group.

Completed in 2019, UMass Boston Harborwalk park boldly reimagines the campus landscape, celebrating the campus’ unique and breathtaking setting at the edge of Boston Harbor. Sasaki’s design for the project promotes alternative modes of transportation and ushers in a new inclusively-designed future for the campus. The design  creates over five miles of new, barrier-free walkways that connect the campus to the Boston Harborwalk. 

The design also realigns new streets, walkways, and transit stops around the campus, connecting the resilient and sustainable open spaces on campus. Three feet of new engineered soil was imported as part of the project, providing a healthy and robust foundation for 14-acres of new native meadow along the waterfront edge. Inspired by natural Massachusetts coastlines, the edge landscape is transformed, sculpted into dunes and basins that collect stormwater and provide an ecological habitat for species of native meadows, birds, and insects all atop a former landfill.

The park has 852 new trees and a diverse set of new open spaces for use by the campus community and the public. Small pocket lawns are set in within the continuous meadows to create opportunities for outdoor education and respite while a 2.2-acre Commencement Lawn acts as the park’s centerpiece. 

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