Park structures and garage: Ellenzweig Associates, Inc., 1990Landscape design: The Halvorson Company, Inc., 1991
Harleston Parker Medal, 1992
This lovely oasis in the heart of the financial district is part of the late 20th century reinvention of American city centers, where cars are pushed into the background (to the extent that that’s possible) and pedestrians become the priority. On a nice spring day the park is packed with office workers taking a break in the sunshine – or the shade.
The park replaces an old parking garage, and is now named after the developer Norman B. Leventhal who promoted it. It is privately owned, and managed with funds from the seven levels of parking beneath it. 1,400 spaces completely out of view replace the 950 car garage that once obscured the streetscape around it. Plunging down 80 feet, the garage is deeper than any other structure in the city.
Garage entries are integrated into the landscaping under small glass gazebos. A café occupies another gazebo, and a vine-covered pergola arches over a walkway. Lawns, benches, fountains, cast iron fences and a rich assortment of plantings provide a romantic get-away from the urban congestion all around. Although Ellenzweig is best known for dramatic modernist public structures like the Alewife transit station, their architecture, and Halvorson’s landscape, here trend very much towards the traditional.
The result of public-private partnerships, creative financing, and the clever integration of infrastructure into a public spirited space, the project is a model for urban reinvention. After more than 25 years, it remains one of the most popular – if not architecturally inventive – places in the city.
Images: ©Steve Rosenthal, 1991. All rights reserved.