Chuckie Harris Park, Quincy Street Open Space and Mayor Curtatone honored
by Boston Society of Landscape Architects
SOMERVILLE – Two of Somerville’s newest parks, Chuckie Harris Park and Quincy Street Open Space, won
recognition at the annual awards gala of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA), the oldest and one of the largest landscape architecture society chapters in the U.S., which also presented Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone with its highest award for his leadership in design, transportation and sustainability.
Landscape architects Eden and Will Martin of GroundView LLC won the prestigious HONOR Award at the awards gala held on May 1 for the design of Chuckie Harris Park in East Somerville, which opened in July 2013. Called “a quiet revolution in playground design” by WBUR, the park is centered around a ‘Mountain’ design concept, as chosen by the community, that recalls East Somerville’s historic Mount Benedict. The ‘mountain’ has a giant slide, climbing equipment and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant paths. Chuckie Harris Park also has a rain-style water-play feature that doubles as a movie screen; riding toys in the play area designed to look like Ford Edsels, which were built around the corner at Assembly Square; seven new community garden plots; and a bocce court that celebrates the new Americans who immigrated to East Somerville.
In addition to being a unique playground, the park incorporates innovative sustainability features, capturing rainwater that flows into a rain garden filled with plants, and water from the water-wall play structure goes into underground pipes that passively water the street trees. Chuckie Harris Park was funded through the federal Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grant Funds and a Massachusetts Division of Conservation Services PARC grant.
Quincy Street Open Space, which opened in January 2013, earned a Merit Award for landscape analysis and planning for architects Weston Sampson and Cheri Ruane of Spurr Design Studios and Wanted LLC. Located outside of Union Square between Somerville Avenue and Summer Street, this project transformed a city-owned “urban wild” created in 1989 through the Somerville Conservation Commission, and tended to by neighbors, into a 5,000 square foot sustainable woodland park. Quincy Street Open Space features three terraced levels of plantings, including plants that were part of the original park and replanted after the renovation, and two ADA accessible boardwalks.
The park also features, in lieu of the common park benches, Adirondack-style chairs made from recycled milk jugs. Curbstone originally stockpiled during renovations of Somerville Avenue were reused to create terraces across the site, and despite intensive plantings, no new irrigation system was installed. Instead, an existing water spigot allows caretakers to water Quincy Street Open Space’s plantings, and the park features a sustainable drainage system so that no water runs off into the sewer system, but stays within the park. Quincy Street Open Space was funded through Community Development Block Grants.
At the awards gala, BSLA President Tim Nickerson also presented Mayor Curtatone with the BSLA’s highest award, the Award of Excellence. In presenting the award, Nickerson cited Mayor Curtatone’s “exemplary support of landscape architecture through his visionary leadership in community-based design, revitalization of public parks and open spaces, extensive expansion of alternate modes of transportation, and growing sustainable practices throughout Somerville, Massachusetts.”