Boston is a great place to live if you are a designer at any of time of year, and summer is an especially fun time to enjoy the amazing landscapes, exhibits, parks and events that Boston and the surrounding area has to offer for design lovers. We’ve gathered some of our favorite places, upcoming events we’re excited to attend, and tips for exploring our city with an architect’s eye. What spaces and experiences would you add to our list?
These are 3 of my most favorite places to visit every spring/summer because they are family friendly, and offer great learning opportunities to my kids:
Capron Zoo in Attleboro:
A small, 8 acre zoo that opened in 1937. Funding for the zoo started in 1925 by school children’s penny drive, and it is part of the 33 acre Capron Park, donated by the Capron family. The exhibits offer a great variety of small and larger animals encompassing North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. I am particularly fond of listening very closely to the lions purring.
Southwick Zoo in Mendon:
A very large, 300 acre family operated zoo. Besides being pretty much in my backyard, the zoo offers an incredible collection of animals from all over the world. The exhibits are large and naturalistic, and there are plenty of other attractions like a very large petting zoo, giraffe and rhinoceros encounters, children’s play park, Skyride lift overlooking the entire property, gift shop, among others. It is the largest zoological experience in New England.
Ecotarium in Worcester
A science and nature museum, it also features a Planetarium, and several permanent and traveling exhibits. I love that is promotes interaction and exploration, and it is perfect even on a rainy day since there are so many indoor programs. On dry days the grounds are beautiful to explore, and the train ride thru the park has always been my older son’s favorite.
When thinking of the city, one may think of a series of tall buildings rising up from the ground. A high-rise tower is a relatively accurate symbol of a city as it captures the city’s density and efficiency. However urbanization is not only just about building upwards, it is also about manipulating the ground plain, with as much, if not more, energy and effort. As a landscape architect, I really enjoy learning the city’s dynamics of ground plain and how that changes over time. Here are a few of my favorite places where you can find such motions in Boston —
Great Junction Railroad at BU Bridge
If one walks on the MIT campus, he/she might notice a railroad alongside, defining the northwest edge of the campus. It is an abandoned section of Great Junction Railroad that was built for freight in the 20s. The railroad seems like a narrow vacuum gap among the built environment, where there is no building, no traffic or even many visitors. When I walked along the railroad to an area near Boston University Bridge one evening, I saw a field of shimmering white objects at the wooded waterfront. There were about a hundred snow geese living there! I revisited there during day time, and saw different part of the ground was covered by feathers of different colors. Apparently, multiple species are peacefully sharing this small piece of land.
Salt piles and Chelsea Port Park
The most surreal scene I have seen in Boston was when passing through Andrew McArdle Bridge. Several giant pink-hued mounds stand at the Chelsea waterfront, with color varying from rosy pink to pale beige, suggesting sliding and stratification of the material. These Wild West desert style landscapes are made of road salt mined from all over the world. The salt arrives on cargo ships, piles up here, and gets covered by large membranes in summer. Right next to the storage ground there is a public park with simple and unaffected lawns, little landforms and lush plantings. Strangely delightful juxtaposition adds a lot of charm to it – trees grow out from oil tank’s geodesic skeleton, small holes on the aluminum shell that entices kids to crawl through, a loading structure covered with vine next to an amphitheater suggests its potential of becoming a stage. Everything looks lightly touched and sincere.
While it is an obligatory mention, other than the Cape’s beaches and drive-in theater, it is our favorite summer experience.
Walking Around Boston
There are so many great places to see in Boston. During my walk to work, I really enjoy passing by Copley Square, Commonwealth Avenue and the Public Garden.
Halibut Point State Park
I definitely recommend traveling up to Rockport to explore Halibut Point State Park. When you are there, makes sure to grab a lobster roll at the Lobster Pool.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons