FORT POINT CHANNEL
Boston’s Fort Point Channel, along with the USPS sorting facility and tracks for South Station, is creating a problem for the growth of the city. These three elements combined are the central node of pedestrian, vehicular and district disconnection. It is a socio-political and economical problem, which needs to be addressed for future development to succeed. This property is the boundary of both the central business district and acres of parking and derelict buildings. Easier accessibility between these two districts could potential create value in future development.
This project proposes to address this problem. The USPS sorting facility will soon be vacated by the tenants, allowing for the demolition of its oversized structure. I propose to eliminate the remaining two barriers by combining them. By damming up the Fort Point Channel and redistributing the train lines of South Station into the channel, the city’s largest disjunction is eradicated. The tracks can be laid below the street level allowing multiple pedestrian crossings and connecting Broadway and Congress as well as allowing Kneeland Street to continue to the convention center. The existing station and USPS facility can be redeveloped as an extension of Downtown and the new Fort Point Channel can investigate ideas of combining economic development with rail infrastructure.
This project proposes a sectional approach to creating a new urban fabric within the city. Considering its direct connection to mass transit and position within the city, this district is pedestrian only. The building structures are based on the rhythm of the tracks and platforms below. Every other space between the buildings are either a path for pedestrian access to the buildings, or a light well illuminating the station below.
Access to the station is achieved though various points throughout the new fabric, as well as from the edges of the channel at various intervals. These direct paths into the city become part of the procession between the destination and the platform. They contain supporting businesses and shops to the users.
Visitors to the city are greeted with the sky directly above them, leading them to the paths, which take them into the city. The placement of the station now at the head of the bay gives an opportunity for high-rise development.
By creating a high-rise, the station itself is given an iconic place-maker, giving orientation to users of the city. It also takes the first steps at expanding the boundary of the central business district eastward.
The new fabric creates a pedestrian zone of retail at the reclaimed ground level and living/working above. The 8-meter wide buildings are adjoined at specific points, especially at the ends of pedestrian paths, to create the potential for larger spaces within. Part of the original channel is left intact to create a promenade for both the new urban fabric and existing the Boston Harborwalk.
The paths leading users between the platforms and the city are elongated and exaggerated to blur the boundary between when one gets out of a train station and enters the city.
This new network of crossing paths creates a new paradigm for connecting a terminal station within the city. As opposed to one primary exist where only businesses adjacent to the head house station benefit from users traveling, the entries to the station are spread throughout the entire site area. This creates the possibilities for a new economy and stabilizes the property value of the land around the station.
Understanding that a head-house station still plays an important and iconic entry role, the station will have its primary entry point at the end of the channel overlooking the bay. This is placed directly next to the tower to assist in wayfinding for visitors to the city.