In 2005, the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership held an international competition to design the Boston Harbor Park Pavilion, a new visitor’s center on the recently completed Rose Kennedy Greenway. The brief called for a public information and ticketing hub focused on promoting the Harbor Islands: a national park boasting 1,600 acres of island wilderness and 35 miles of undeveloped shoreline, reachable by ferries launching from nearby Long Wharf. This project received a citation from the competition jury, and proposes a sustainable building integrating landscape and public space to draw visitors from downtown Boston across the Greenway to the water’s edge.

This project, sited along paths in the new Rose Kennedy Greenway, extends existing pedestrian arteries into a building that operates as a landscape, bringing visitors gradually up and around to a platform that is a public destination within the narrow median park. A sloped roof wraps around the solid programs at the core: its form compresses and expands the interior spaces to guide movement through and around, it adheres to proper passive ventilation strategies, and it funnels rainwater onto a small roof garden.

The winding building form is composed of programmed circulation spaces: a ticket stand, café, gallery, and rainwater-fed reflecting pool. Each is located along an extension of a preexisting pathway through the park. The transparent and elastic boundary between interior and exterior spaces creates both continuity and ambiguity between building form and landscape. Strategically framed views at switchbacks along the paths promote a hyper-awareness of the surrounding city and build anticipation towards a view of water’s edge and a panorama of the islands.

Merge Architects Inc.
332 Congress St. Floor 6
Boston MA 02210


We are driven by an unrelenting curiosity, optimism, and urgency to change our built environment for the better.

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