Maryann Thompson Architects, as a member on Michael Van Valkenburg's team, was invited to design the Rose Kennedy Greenway between Faneuil Hall and Rowe's Wharf as a part of a limited competition staged by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The proposed building strategy is an attempt to connect the space of architecture to the space of the city, the urban plazas and landscapes of the wharf district park. The architecture is transparent and inviting, creating an indoor/outdoor experience, not dominating the space of the park, but framing and sheltering it.
Adjacencies created between the building's entrances, the circulation routes thru the city and the proposed plazas, allow for a magical interweaving of the urban life of the city and the architecture which supports that life. Like the sidewalk cafés of Europe, all cafés, restaurants, and building entrances are oriented to a corresponding outdoor space, enlivening and invigorating the public realms of the city. All major architectural program pieces and their corresponding plazas are located at intersections, providing activity centers which vitalize the routes that link the city and the sea.
Movable glass walls at the restaurants, cafés, info and cultural centers facilitate a blending of interior and exterior space, allowing for multiple uses, e.g., dining outdoors at an sidewalk café, watching children play in the plaza fountains or artists perform in the background; in the winter, sipping hot chocolate at night while ice skaters circle the rink in the adjacent plaza. Café tables spill out onto plazas, linking the interior and exterior spaces. The exterior ground plane extends into the interior, blurring the boundaries between inside and outside. The information center and restaurant frame a gateway to the sea along State Street and orient the pedestrian to experience the space. The landscaped promenade ends on top of the restaurant with an lookout over the harbor, also a great place to watch ice-skating in the winter.
The architecture celebrates tectonics and materials. The proposed natural palette of materials is human to the touch, and lends texture and color. The use of stone and wood harkens back to Boston's shipping days. The proposed tongue and groove wood ceilings suggest the keel of an old sailing vessel. Stainless steel columns, glass curtain walls and lightweight metal rails allow for a layered transparency that supports the architecture's reconnection to the space of the urban realm.
The competition and its traveling exhibit were held in 2002.