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UMass Boston Hosts First Commencement on Newly Redesigned Lawn

Last week, the University of Massachusetts Boston conferred degrees to 3,934 students on the school’s newly-minted Commencement Lawn. This year’s commencement, the school’s 51st, included a principal address by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and unofficially marked the culmination of nine years of design and construction by BVH, Sasaki, and team. The Commencement Lawn, previously a traffic circle and, before that, part of one of Boston’s largest landfills, represents a revolution in the creation of public space at the edge of Boston Harbor and a celebration of the unique and breathtaking setting of UMass Boston—the city’s sole public university.

The 2.2 acre Commencement Lawn is the centerpiece of Sasaki’s 77-acre redesign of the UMass Boston campus that includes the design of meadows, complete streets, connections to the City of Boston Harborwalk, and the planting of 840 trees. The Commencement Lawn—with panoramic views of the Boston Harbor Islands—was designed as a setting to support academic and recreational uses as well as events of various sizes. Beneath the lush sodded surface is a 12 inch custom soil profile reinforced with fibers to create a firm foundation for stages, scaffolding, chairs, semi-trucks, and other heavy equipment needed for large events. Framing the lawn are planted dunes and stormwater basins, inspired by coastal Massachusetts landscapes.

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