With the dismantling and burying of Boston’s Central Artery, strong connections between the city and Boston Harbor became a possibility and a number of cross-streets were looked at to provide these connections. As such, Broad Street became the first of twelve downtown streets identified in the Boston Greenways District Crossroads Initiative for redesign. By integrating sustainability with a place-making design approach, the design team pursued a layered design approach to create a memorable identity for Broad Street.
Considering Broad Street as an interpretive pathway from which a number of significant and historical buildings could be viewed (including the Custom House Tower and the Flour and Grain Exchange Building), the design team identified a series of nodes or “oases” to act as pedestrian eddies, each highlighting off-street views of such landmarks. Working with Utile, the plan was then carefully calibrated to allow for outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes as part of this inclusive design concept.
Key to the sustainable success of this project was the custom design of ‘drain bricks’. Conventional permeable-pavement often has limited effectiveness over time, as the system becomes clogged with fines and litter and requires intense maintenance. The drain brick system, however, allows water to penetrate the sidewalk surface and concrete base to sumps located beneath the cast-iron drain bricks where fines and sidewalk litter are collected in a manner that is easily removed. This comprehensive system is designed to support fire trucks as well as provide a safe, level paving surface for pedestrians while capturing stormwater sheet flow irrigating street-tree root systems as opposed to directing it ultimately to Boston Harbor.
RBA was recently granted an “Innovation in Green Design Award” by the U. S. Green Building Council Massachusetts Chapter for this sustainable advancement.