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Architects meld development with global industry at new Chelsea park

Daniel, an assistant professor of urban landscape, and Marie Law Adams, a lecturer, at the Rock Marine Chapel in Chelsea. Photo by Casey Bayer

Many New Eng­land res­i­dents will say salt is good for fla­voring food and keeping ice off roads during the winter.

But for Daniel and Marie Law Adams, life part­ners and fac­ulty mem­bers in the School of Archi­tec­ture, salt offers a unique oppor­tu­nity to blend industry and devel­op­ment in an urban setting.

Their vision is rep­re­sented in the new Rock Chapel Marine ter­minal on the shores of the Chelsea River in the epony­mous city, a shared-​​use marine indus­trial salt dock and public access area built by their archi­tec­tural design firm Landing Studio. Daniel, an assis­tant pro­fessor of urban land­scape, and Marie, a lec­turer, designed the new venue with a key archi­tec­tural ques­tion in mind: “How do you take unique land­scapes that are usu­ally under­ap­pre­ci­ated and better the design so they become more appre­ci­ated, while also bringing com­mu­nity and industry together,” Daniel said.

The first public event at the Rock Chapel Marine will be Monday evening’s 10th annual Taste of Chelsea, in which local restau­rants will offer guests a sam­pling of their cui­sine. The event will ben­efit Har­borCOV, an orga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides sup­port for vic­tims of domestic violence.

Landing Studio started working on the project in 2006 after Eastern Salt, a Chelsea-​​based salt com­pany Daniel worked with as a grad­uate stu­dent, pur­chased a former oil ter­minal next to its salt dock.

The multi-​​phase design includes improving the dock’s infra­struc­ture and turning the oil ter­minal into a park called the Pub­licly Orga­nized Recre­ation Ter­ri­tory. Daniel said it is the first public access area built on Chelsea’s indus­trial waterfront.

The PORT, which sits on about one acre of land, includes an amphithe­ater built in a carved out oil tank; green space; a walkway along the water­front; and viewing towers.

Daniel noted that his firm worked with both city and state offi­cials to find a bal­ance between busi­ness and devel­op­ment. “The city wants devel­op­ment and the state needs to con­tinue to bring goods in,” he explained, adding that the salt deliv­ered to the dock is used to salt all the roads in Mass­a­chu­setts during the winter.

One part of the Rock Chapel project rep­re­sents a lit­eral melding of the salt dock and public access area. In the spring, summer, and fall, the space between the salt dock and the PORT will fea­ture a bas­ket­ball court and bike track for public use. But in the winter, when the demand for road salt is at its highest in New Eng­land, the space will serve as an extra storage area for salt.

“It is quite lit­er­ally a sharing of the land­scapes,” Daniel said.

Adams is also working with Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Center to install sen­sors along the Rock Chapel Marine shore to deter­mine the fea­si­bility of installing oyster reef.

Part of the demo­li­tion and devel­op­ment of the public space includes using recy­cled mate­rials. The skeleton of three of the oil tanks’ domes are now shaded sit­ting areas, and pieces of a ship dock were used to build the viewing towers.. “The whole strategy is to locally source as much mate­rial as pos­sible,” Daniel said.

North­eastern alumnus Philip Chaney, who earned his under­grad­uate (2009) and grad­uate (2010) degrees in archi­tec­ture, has worked on the project for Landing Studio for about two years. His respon­si­bil­i­ties have ranged from working with the design team to preparing con­struc­tion doc­u­ments to vis­iting the site during the building process.

“It is really the full spec­trum,” Chaney said of his role. “It is the type of project you would hope to work on.”

During his time at North­eastern, Chaney did three co-​​ops including two with Kyu Sung Woo, the firm that designed Inter­na­tional Vil­lage. “The tran­si­tion from co-​​op to the office envi­ron­ment was seam­less,” Chaney said.

(written by Joe O’Connell/Northeastern News)