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Beyond The Big Dig
About this project

What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery may be the most important development decision to face Boston in a generation.

Architects chosen for Artery parcels

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff, 11/20/2002

North End parcels design
Turnpike officials released designs for two parcels of the future Surface Artery. The design above, submitted by the winning team, represents 20 percent of the grade for the winning proposal and is subject to change. (Globe Graphic)

Massachusetts Turnpike Authority officials yesterday revealed the winner, chosen by a committee of city and state officials several weeks ago, and released designs for the North End that were submitted by the winner and three other finalists.

Wallace Floyd, which has done extensive work on the Central Artery project and on Boston area parks, is teamed with several companies, including Seattle-based Gustafson Partnership.

''The team is a wonderful combination of people who have long, deep knowledge of the Artery ... and deep experience in European design,'' said Rebecca Barnes, chief planner for the city and a member of the five-person selection committee.

Turnpike chairman Matthew Amorello and Big Dig director of architecture Fred Yalouris, who made yesterday's announcement, said the concepts of all four finalists were outstanding. ''And the best part is we own them all,'' said Amorello.

The four finalists for the two parcels between New Sudbury Street and North Street in the North End were each paid $10,000 to submit one or more concepts for that public space. They were judged on a point system, with their concepts accounting for about 20 percent of their grade.

Turnpike and city officials can use the concepts from any of the teams - or they can start over. The final design process, which is to begin early next year and take about 15 months, will be influenced heavily by a series of public meetings and discussions.

By the end of this year, design teams will be selected for the open-space parcels in the Wharf District and the Chinatown/Leather District sections of the Surface Artery.

The half-dozen development parcels along the 30-acre Surface Artery corridor will be managed separately. The corridor will be created once the elevated Central Artery is dismantled.

City and Turnpike officials said they plan a large event at the Boston Public Library, in collaboration with architects and landscape architects, to display all the designs that have been submitted.

The runner-up in the competition to design the North End space was also headed by a Boston-based firm, Copley Wolff Design Group. The other two finalists were headed by EDAW and Thomas Balsley Associates.

The concept presented by the Wallace Floyd team includes a stream of water flowing under a bridge that connects Hanover Street on each side of the Surface Artery. It also includes sloping lawns and a small theater, as well as many trees.

The decision to choose Wallace Floyd was not unanimous, Amorello said, but all five selection committee members agreed that the team won the competition on points. Turnpike officials liked the design Wallace Floyd submitted but cautioned it is only one idea of many that will be considered for the final design.

All of the submissions for the North End parcels included some water feature: fountains, streams, pools, or skating rinks.

Yalouris said each team was told to design the parcels so that they could be constructed for about $8 million, which is what the authority expects to spend on that section. Wallace Floyd will be paid about $1.4 million for its completed design.

City and Turnpike officials have been quietly feuding off and on since last summer over control of the Surface Artery process. In July, an effort to create an authority-like governing structure for the valuable corridor collapsed.

But both Amorello and Barnes said yesterday they are working cooperatively now to complete the designer selection process and begin final design. Decisions on ownership, control, maintenance, and financial responsibility are being postponed.

Yalouris said designers for the three Surface Artery sections are being selected based not only on their concepts but also on financial feasibility, past work, the strength of their partners, their understanding of the task in Boston, and the quality of their team leaders.

''The next step is negotiating a contract,'' said Amorello.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
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