Frontline Park: The Lawn on D, Boston Massachusetts
Each month, City Parks Alliance promotes an urban park that shows how parks and park leaders are on the forefront of creating healthier, more sustainable cities, and are succeeding in tough economic times. The Frontline Parks program showcases the most innovative and successful park projects and partnerships, as well as best practices in design, stewardship, programming, and fundraising.
The Lawn on D was meant to be a teaser for future redevelopment in South Boston and expansion of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC), but has proven to be a popular and vital urban space for residents and tourists. With the planned expansion no longer happening, and the Lawn on D’s growing reputation as an example of innovative park design and programming, this once-temporary and experimental space may become a permanent anchor for a re-imagined and redeveloped D Street corridor.
As the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) planned for future growth and the potential redevelopment of land along D Street, it sought to create a vibrant new urban district for citizens of Boston. Before the Lawn, D Street was lined with trash-strewn vacant lots, old industrial buildings, and surface parking lots; certainly not a place that would attract high end conventions and events.
Knowing something needed to be done about the area, MCCA engaged a design team composed of Sasaki Associates and Utile, Inc. to help shape a vision for D Street. Along with HR&A Advisors and representatives from the neighboring communities, the team worked with the MCCA to imagine a park that would set the tone for the new district.
Never underestimate the power of a hashtag (#LawnOnD). With very little advertising, the Lawn on D became a sensation with the help of social media when it opened in August of 2014. The park has been praised in the press, garnered awards, been at the top of almost every “to visit” list for Boston, been embraced by its neighbors, and set a new standard of design excellence for urban greenspace. It has become known as a center for innovation, public art, and placemaking. Though it was initially considered an “adult park” thanks to the funky swing design and games more closely associated with college bars than neighborhood parks, it has become increasingly popular with families.
Funding for the Future — Because it was initially conceived as a temporary space, The Lawn on D has faced some funding challenges for long term programming. Because it is not technically part of the city’s park system, a self-sustaining revenue stream is necessary to keep up with programming, maintenance, and security. Thanks to the popularity of the park, plans are being put in place to increase rental revenue, and Citizens Bank has stepped in as a corporate sponsor through October of 2017.
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Originally published at www.cityparksalliance.org.