Playground at the Boston Nature Center

The “Nature Nook” is a delightful natural play space on the grounds of the Boston Nature Center & Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the Mattapan neighborhood of the city. In about eight years since the playground’s construction, the vegetation has grown nicely to form a cozy play space consisting of several “rooms” of activity areas. The playground includes all the important elements of nature-based play: water, sand/dirt, wood, plants, rocks, and hills. Additional features include a stage with seating, planters for gardening, music and art spaces, a building construction area, a gathering (seating) space, and a boardwalk.


Pergola with vines at the playground entrance


Water pump and stone stream bed, with adjacent sand play area


Children exploring the woods


Musical play, grass hill, and stage with seating


Building construction area, including a permanent wooden frame that children can lean sticks against to form forts and other structures


Boardwalk through the woods


Climbing log


Bridge over the stream bed; near the sand play, dirt play, gardening, and art areas

Photos by Alice Webb
Project Design by StudioMLA Architects, Brookline, MA

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Site Furniture with Flair, Part 2

As a continuation of my original post on this subject, here are some unique outdoor seats that I’ve come across (both on location and online). It’s always a pleasure to see furnishings in the landscape that are custom-designed and out of the ordinary.

seat 1
Curvilinear series of stone/metal seats and bollards at the Federal Reserve Plaza in Boston – These also appear to serve as a security measure, keeping vehicles away from the building.

seat 2
Temporary installation in Boston (2013) – part of a series of art benches along the Fort Point Channel

seat 3
Wooden seat wall with attractive pattern in downtown Boston

seat 4
Tile seating in Rio de Los Angeles State Park, California. Photo credit: Laurie Avocado

seat 5
Double-sided bench designed by architect Zaha Hadid, located in the Dallas Museum of Art’s sculpture garden. Photo credit: Alfred Essa

seat 6
“Tourist Trap” – temporary seat in Belfast, Maine, 2014

seat 7
“The Greeter” – temporary seating in Belfast, Maine, 2014

seat 8
“Stumped” – temporary seating in Belfast, Maine, 2014
 
All photos not credited otherwise were taken by Alice Webb.
Photos by others were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Chinatown Park, Boston

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway is a 15-acre linear urban space in downtown Boston, sited on land where Interstate 93 was previously located (now in a tunnel below). The greenway has been criticized for not being designed cohesively; however, the space should instead be considered as a series of disparate urban parks, each with its own merits.

One of the better-conceived spaces along this route is Chinatown Park, located at the southern end of the greenway. It was designed by Carol R. Johnson Associates, a Boston-based landscape architecture firm. The park is approximately three-quarter acre in size, and includes a curvilinear path with red sculptural features, a waterfall fountain and stream, plants native to Asia, and a plaza for festivals and other activities. China’s culture, history, and natural scenery are all represented by the park’s elements.

Chinatown Park 1
This bold, modern gate at the north entrance of the park is a counterpoint to the ornate, traditional Chinese gate to the south (shown in later photo). Red is a very popular color in China, representing good fortune and joy.

Chinatown Park 2
North park entrance – The sculpture in background is entitled “Zheng He’s Mizzen Sail”. The park’s pavement pattern symbolizes the scales of a dragon.

Chinatown Park 3
The waterfall fountain is composed of reclaimed seawall stones, acquired from a part of the Boston Harbor where many Chinese immigrants arrived.

Chinatown Park 4
Recirculating stream, flowing from the waterfall fountain

Chinatown Park 5
The park includes Peonies and many other plants of Asian origin.

Chinatown Park 6
“Bamboo curtains” at southern end of serpentine walkway

Chinatown Park 7
Plaza at southern end of park

Chinatown Park 8
The traditional Chinese gate can be seen at the south end of the plaza.
 
Photos by Alice Webb

South Boston’s Parks and Plazas

There are several nicely-designed outdoor spaces in south Boston that are open to the public even though they are privately-owned. On a recent outing, I visited five of these spaces, located in the Seaport district of the city, and all within walking distance of one another. These include Eastport Park, South Boston Maritime Park, West Podium Park, The Fan Pier Public Green, and the entrance area of the Boston Children’s Museum (owned by a private, non-profit organization).

These spaces run the gamut from cozy gardens to active plazas and expansive lawns. A taste of each is included in the photos below. I will be writing more about some of these individual places in future posts.


Eastport Park – a sculpture garden with lush plantings and shady seating areas


An attractive bench is integrated with a building in South Boston Maritime Park. This park also includes a large lawn and a sculptural shade structure with tables and chairs.


West Podium Park is actually a roof garden, and includes several pleasant seating areas.


The Fan Pier Public Green includes this pedestrian walkway which leads to seating areas along the water. A large lawn space is adjacent to this.


Playful zig-zag pavement at the entrance to the Boston Children’s Museum

Photos by Alice Webb