The Boston Innovation District Waterfront Development project is located adjacent to the Logan Airport and between the Boston Harbor and two interstate highways. Generally, the area’s main geographical features are large undeveloped tracts of land and a large waterfront peninsula, which is the most notable feature in the area.
The project’s location was selected because of its unique combination of space that would enable the development of creative endeavors, along with the natural waterfront resources available in the area. Prior to the project’s development, the area had settlements dating from the 19th century since it was a fast-growing industrial hub that housed several manufacturing companies and rail yards, which together served the port. The area also had several infrastructural development projects with the elevated highways tending to isolate it, specifically since it was not easily accessible by foot.
The project was designed as a public-private partnership, and it was initiated by Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino. He envisioned developing the Seaport District into an experimental and deliberate location for innovation. The Boston Re-development Authority was given responsibility for the project and it set out the four main features of the project. These were; city as host, experimental city, cluster city, and industry-agnostic city. In addition, local stakeholders were included in the planning of public parks and local engineers and architects took part in the planning process.
The project seeks to create residencies for approximately 300,000 people, most of whom are expected to work in the Boston Innovation District. The project also incorporates new canal strategies that provide living walls and roof gardens for the residents, with the main aim of this decision being to reestablish the location’s ecological conditions, which were lost when the location was a transport hub. The residents in this location also include restaurant workers, retail shop employees, researchers, and school student. People also live adjacent to the project, although the elevated highways make it difficult to access on foot.
The locations has significant plans of including a pedestrian plaza along the Seaport Boulevard, which is lined with shops. However, there are doubts as to whether this is open space, specifically since the Boston Innovation District has a shortage of park space as its population continues to grow. In addition, the park space that currently exists has been overshadowed by adjacent glass towers and it feels almost as part of the business community, rather than open spaces for the location’s residents.
Finally, the project has several cultural features including the Institute of Contemporary Art, which acts as the city’s cultural centerpiece and cornerstone. As the first permanent construction project in this location, the Institute of Contemporary Art provides the residents with a free public gathering area where they can access the sweeping waterfront and harbor. The institute also serves as a museum and indoor theater where the residents can spend their free time.
The overall mission of the Boston Innovation District is to develop the location into a knowledge hub for creative jobs and workers. To achieve this, the project aims to define its innovation clusters in terms of web development, biotechnology and healthcare, green business, and other industries. Further, the project also strives to experiment with the design and construction of alternative models of housing by testing ideas, which provide working and living opportunities for the budding entrepreneurs as well as affordable housing for the researchers. Moreover, the project also aims at giving developers and architects new challenges of creating new construction materials, new floor plans, and new designs so as to invent a new location that meets the requirements of its residents. Finally, the project also aims to create an urban laboratory that will provide lessons for the future development of the project and other projects around the country; while also serving as a job magnet.