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?
The Institute of Contemporary Art
Photo Credit: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Although this gallery of contemporary art is a great place to visit anytime of year, it is an especially wonderful place to go on a warm summer day. The 2007 Harleston Parker Award winning building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro begs you to take a picnic lunch and sit on the grandstand of public seating under the building’s great cantilever, overlooking the Boston Harbor. And once inside, you have the opportunity to sit in one of the city’s most unique rooms – the Mediatheque, which is suspended above the harbor with a framed view of only the water below. The ICA is within walking distance from our office, so if you haven’t been – just go already.
Whale Watch on Stellwagen Bank
One of the great benefits of living in Boston is taking advantage of being right on the ocean, and just 25 miles off the shores of this great city happens to be one of the richest summer feeding grounds for whales on the planet. Stellwagen Bank is a National Marine Sanctuary, and probably one of the best places to observe marine life in the wild – right in our backyard! The last time I went out to Stellwagen Bank, it was a clear day with high visibility and as huge humpback whales were passing by in front of our boat, the Boston skyline was prominently visible in the background. If you’re feeling a need to escape the city and breathe some fresh ocean air, you can’t go wrong.
World’s End in Hingham
Rolling hills and rocky shorelines at World’s End offers sweeping views of the Boston skyline, while tree-lined carriage paths designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted make delightful walking trails. The 251-acre coastscape includes rocky shores, broad hillsides, and open fields bracketed by pockets of woodlands. The property is ideal for walking, picnicking, jogging, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, or simply enjoying nature and the outdoors.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
The five levels of the building function as open and flexible working spaces for painting, drawing, and sculpture, and the ramp through the heart of the building encourages public circulation and provides views into the studios, making the creative process visible through the building design. The Sert Gallery, at the top of the ramp, features the work of contemporary artists, and the main gallery at street level hosts a variety of exhibitions supporting the curriculum of the Department. The Carpenter Center is also home to the Harvard Film Archive, which brings to the public a unique program of classic, rare and experimental films.
Observation Deck at Independence Wharf
A highlight of the Boston Harborwalk, this historic building offers beautiful bird’s-eye views of Fort Point Channel and beyond from its 14th-floor observation deck.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
My primary criteria for a local outings are good views, interesting trails and a pleasant route to get there. I can enjoy exploring new landscapes, but I have a great fondness for places I have been many times before.
High on my list is Storer Woods, the forest just behind my home in Waltham. It is rewarding to walk the same path several times a week, and now after six years of living nearby I know when and where to look for lady slippers and pipsissewa. In those woods I have heard and seen owls, been amazed by a profusion of colorful fungus, and each day find delight in the unique way the sun is filtering down between the pine and oak trees at that particular moment.
Not much further from home is Walden Pond. The pond may be crowded with swimmers and sunbathers on a summer weekend, but off-hours its shoreline trail provides a lovely setting for a gentle walk. There you can experience the pond that inspired Thoreau to write Walden, a book with a timeless message about our relationship with the natural world. And a gorgeous pond it is. As one is walking along, meditating perhaps on Thoreau’s exhortation to lead a simple life, one may come across a wild creature as I did one day last year – a great blue heron standing serenely on the shore.