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Now docking

Envisioning new life for a 700-foot-long pier


In an effort to curate a spectrum of ideas—inspirational, provocative, futuristic—that transforms Dry Dock No. 4 into a signature park, ArchitectureBoston invited a range of firms and artists to the drawing board. Could they conjure aerial overviews and street-view close-ups that capture their particular spheres of interest while providing creative public access to the water, we wondered? Might there be unexpected avenues for pedestrians to approach this 6-acre landscape—set behind the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Northern Avenue—while creating an open-space statement in the Seaport? Is there some way to acknowledge its role as a functioning dry dock, contemplate resiliency efforts, and pay homage to the harbor’s history? Just imagine the possibilities. — Fiona Luis

Dry Dock No.4

Above: An aerial view of Dry Dock No. 4 photographed in May 2016 by Les Vants Aerial Photos.




by Jennifer Brooke and Christian Brooke ASLA


A rusty relic alongside the gleaming new South Boston Seaport developments, the decaying hulk of Dry Dock No. 4 is a visceral reminder of the early-20th-century industrial urban edge, where large ships would visit, conduct business, and then leave. PLUG and PLAY is a park proposal that addresses this dynamic and historic function of the site as well as the recent and glaring revelations that this city district is neither socially diverse nor insulated from the ravages of Mother Nature. At the heart of this park are floating landscape barges that are interchangeable as well as usable along other waterfront sites in the city—A Kit of Parts. The dock, which has been reimagined as an urban green and promenade, serves as a permanent anchor, a link to the shore.

Plug and Play example

Plug and play diagram



The marine industrial cloud

by Elizabeth Christoforetti, Will Cohen, Nathan Fash AIA, and Lauren Matrka


In 2068, machine efficiency has made human labor unnecessary in the Marine Industrial Park. Society has shifted to a universal basic income to equitably and unconditionally distribute unneeded salaries, and Bostonians now pursue human interests in social settings that coexist in parallel with the machine labor that enables them. Given its proximity to the water and the continuing need to use ocean resources, the Marine Industrial Park maintains maritime industrial use as a primary function. While zoning remains unchanged, the efficiency of robotic labor liberates ground levels with the vistas that Bostonians appreciate, both for public leisure and the pursuit of a new form of human work. Dry Dock No. 4 is typical of the building and development types produced by this new economic condition. The stripped-down needs of machine production fundamentally reshape the constraints of building and site design to enable new types of social and civic space.

The marine industrial cloud

The marine industrial cloud diagram




by Carolina Aragón ASLA


This proposal imagines the Dry Dock No. 4 as a park inspired by the permeable, productive, and rich marshland of the original Boston shore. The design conceptually and physically blurs the boundary between dock and ocean, allowing water in and expanding its adjacent water surface. The ideas set forth speculate how to engage the ocean in ways that harness its potential for energy and food production while creating a unique public space environment. The design imagines retrofitting the existing central basin to create a series of tidal reservoirs for energy production and public recreation. Ocean vertical farming along the edge of the dry dock is an opportunity to create sustainable food production and engage the public with “floating art” from illuminated colored buoys. Eelgrass-inspired lighting serves as a reminder of the natural shoreline.

Aquadock details

Aquadock diagram




by Michelle Crowley ASLA, Naomi Cottrell ASLA, Jessica Brown ASLA, Thackston Crandall ASLA, Erin McCabe ASLA, and Brooke Warfel


Gray—blue—green is a public park that contrasts microcosms of urban, coastal, and pastoral landscapes. The basin and piers of the existing dry dock organize the landscapes into bands, and each plays with visitors’ relationships to the horizon and waterline. The gray band is at city level and connects to the neighborhood’s sidewalks and streets; a community center at the far end has a green roof from which you can see the harbor and islands. The blue band uses the depth of the former dry dock to lower visitors below sea level and immerse them in the space. The green band uses fill to create constructed drumlins that provide elevated prospects over the site, the harbor, and back to the city. Interspersed throughout each band are opportunities for active and passive recreation in unique settings, creating new life on the harbor.

Gray blue green details

Gray blue green diagram