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Light shines on underpass makeover

Dan Adams, Marie Law Adams

The Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion has tapped a pair of fac­ulty mem­bers in Northeastern’s School of Archi­tec­ture to help revi­talize a run­down parcel of land under Inter­state 93 that con­nects South Boston and the South End. The project’s goal is to make the area a hub for transporta­tion in and around the city.

Landing Studio—the design firm founded by assis­tant pro­fessor Daniel Adams and his partner Marie Law Adams, a lecturer—will be working on the MassDOT-​​led I-​​93 Under-​​Story project over the next year.

At a kickoff event ear­lier this month, a tem­po­rary light instal­la­tion designed by the firm was unveiled, depicting var­ious images of trans­porta­tion modes involved in the project. Going for­ward, the pair will help deter­mine the best lighting for the space and will work on designing ways to incorporate color, other lighting, and art instal­la­tions in the area.

The goal is to create a ”mobility hub” on eight acres of land near Albany Street and I-​​93 Frontage Road that will offer the trav­el­ling public improved access to parking lots, bicycle storage, bike paths, pedes­trian walk­ways, and the MBTA Red and Silver lines.

“This is a large scale indus­trial land­scape we are trying to re-​​introduce to the com­mu­nity,” Daniel Adams said. “It’s really a great spot to see how all these net­works of trans­porta­tion come together to serve the city.”

Adams said MassDOT approached Landing Studio about working on this project after it saw what the firm did at the Rock Chapel Marine in Chelsea, where the firm blended devel­op­ment and industry in an urban setting.

“It is a very dra­matic land­scape,” Adams said. “Its prin­cipal role will be con­nec­tion, but the mes­sage is also to return it to some­thing that is exciting and inviting.”

This project orig­i­nated from dis­cus­sions between state trans­porta­tion offi­cials, elected offi­cials, and com­mu­nity mem­bers about how to trans­form the under­uti­lized space, according to MassDOT real estate project man­ager Robin Blatt-​​Eisengart, DMSB’04 and SSH’12.

“When we started looking at this area, it was really dark and dreary and a psy­cho­log­ical bar­rier between the South End and South Boston,” explained Blatt-​​Eisengart, who has worked on the project for the past two years. “But the more we looked at it, we saw it could be a con­nec­tion between the two areas because it’s where neigh­bor­hoods and local and state roads come together.”

About 235 parking spots were added to the area as part of the project’s first phase. Phase two is expected to be com­pleted by Jan­uary 2015. It will include the con­struc­tion of an addi­tional 197 parking spaces with an elec­tric car charging area and bicycle storage, as well as open space that dou­bles as a stormwater runoff treat­ment land­scape, and an exten­sion of the Boston Har­bor­walk. Rev­enue from these new parking spots will pay for the project.

Blatt-​​Eisengart, who worked on co-​​op at MassDOT, said his expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity taught him to address policy chal­lenges through land-​​use solu­tions, which is what the I-​​93 Under-​​Story project accom­plishes. “We are making an invest­ment in trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture to solve a number of dif­ferent policy chal­lenges, such as safety,” he noted.

Read the original article at news@Northeastern →