Skip to Content

Design Observed

We've collected a sampling of projects and ideas that exemplify smart design principles

Drawing on the suggestions of readers, we've collected a sampling of projects and ideas that exemplify smart design principles. Located in our own backyards, these examples are transformative and transcendent—beyond the beauty of the building or the intelligence of the innovation. 



East Boston Public Library
Along with its educational programming for new Bostonians, the East Boston Public Library literally integrates immigrants into the fabric of the city with sidewalk pavers that nod to diverse, far-flung homelands. Architect: William Rawn Associates, Architects. 
Pedestrian Bridge
Pedestrian Bridge at Wonderland Station creates a gateway connecting a multimodal public transit station to one of the region's most democratic stretches of public beach. The bridge celebrates the public by providing a safe crossing over automobile traffic to this intensively used amenity. Architect: Rosales + Partners. 


MassArt's Tree House Hall and Northeastern's Building H (next image) take students out of the surrounding Longwood and Mission Hill neighborhoods, where they would have driven up rents, and in the process create artful, attractive housing. Architect: ADD Inc.


Bartlett Yards Bus Depot
Community organizations helped the Bartlett Yards Bus Depot in Roxbury's Dudley Square blossom, albeit temporarily, into a mini-oasis of cutting-edge murals and a focal point for urban artists. 
Serpentine Fence
Like Bartlett Yards, the Serpentine Fence separates tennis courts from a sitting area of a Jamaica Plain park, using ordinary material to create a translucent sculpture with lighting that glows at night. Sculpture by Beth Galston.


241 Atlantic
The park at 241 Atlantic is the counter space to the expansive Greenway: lush and intimate. Its subtle elevated ground plane delicately tiptoes around a web of underground utilities and provides a shaded spot to view the Boston Harbor and New England Aquarium. Architect: NBBJ; landscape architect: Reed Hilderbrand.
Everett Street Greening
In Allston, the Everett Street Greening project reclaimed a swath of parking-lot asphalt and introduced trees, a rain garden of native plants, and permeable pavestones, preventing stormwater runoff from polluting the nearby Charles River. Designed by Charles River Watershed Association.


United Shoe Machinery Building
Widely regarded as one of Boston's best Art Deco buildings, the United Shoe Machinery Building faced demolition in 1981 but is a successful commercial office building today. Architect: Parker, Thomas and Rice with Henry Bailey Alden.
Roslindale Substation
Vacant since 1971, the Roslindale Substation is a creative adaptive use of a challenging industrial building. The project will restore the exterior, use the interior commercially, and construct adjacent housing. Architect: PCA (Prellwitz Chilinski Associates).