In Support of Kenmore Square Transformation

By Sam Aquillano, Executive Director

As the Executive Director of Design Museum Boston I take pride in aligning our organization with thoughtfully designed solutions to some of Boston’s thorniest problems. Kenmore Square is one of those problems — there’s an opportunity to dramatically improve urban livability, safety, and transportation for residents and visitors. I support the concept put forth by Speck & Associates, Stantec, Studio Gang, and Reed Hilderbrand.

Kenmore Square is a very important social space for the City of Boston, filled with residents, students and visitors descending on the area over 100 times a year for the various games and events at Fenway Park. Yet, today, there is little outdoor space to accommodate these visitors or serve area residents. Today, Kenmore Square is very challenging for pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians are required to transverse multiple crosswalks and wait multiple traffic cycles to get from one side of the Square to the other. Bicycles are also forced to navigate dangerous intersections, often having to utilize pedestrian crosswalks as the only “safe” alternative to complicated roadway transitions, again, requiring multiple stops at multiple intersections.

My support is based on the proposed complete reconfiguration of the streets in Kenmore Square, from an area overrun with traffic and unsafe pedestrian conditions, to a more simply designed street layout, which will vastly improve the pedestrian experience without worsening the traffic. The proposed transformation of the configuration of the roadways, bike lanes and pedestrian pathways and the addition of a public plaza will dramatically improve Kenmore Square.

First, this proposal quadruples the amount of public space in Kenmore, while also reducing the asphalt by 12,500 square feet. Per the proposed plan for this outdoor space, it will create an urban environment that is very durable, but flexible, with seating, street trees and greenery and programming that will activate the space in a playful way to establish this corner as the heart of Kenmore Square. Next, the proposed changes to the streets shorten pedestrian crossings, making them easier and safer while also reducing dangerous driving by introducing new turns that reduce vehicle speeds.  This change transitions Kenmore to a space belonging to pedestrians instead of an area dominated by cars. Additionally, the recommended changes to the bike lanes, establishing them between parking and the curb will drastically improve the cyclists’ experience through the Square, and create complete, dedicated bike paths for individuals traveling in and out of the City.

Very rarely does the City of Boston have the opportunity to redesign streets, especially in an area as complicated and as important to cars, bicycles and pedestrians, as Kenmore Square. But this proposal creates the opportunity to dramatically improve the pedestrian environment and accessibility, transform the experience for Boston’s many cyclists, all without worsening the traffic. I strongly encourage the BPDA to approve this project as it represents urban planning at its best, a marked public investment in new street design and open space, with a project that will add jobs and economic vitality to the area. I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.

To learn more about the proposed design solution visit: 

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