Developing Back Bay

Scope and Background

This is your third project and substantially different from the first two. It is actually a large scale planning project and as such, it is open ended. Its complexity requires that the design is done by a team with each team member concentrating on a specialty. You should follow the design process as given to you in the lectures.

The intent of this project is to have you define the constraints (boundary conditions) as part of the problem formulation. While it may be unusual to have such a “wide open” project, it is a good way to start with any planning or design project to assume very relaxed boundary conditions. This will give you the freedom to come up with innovative solutions even when you add constraints.

In this particular exercise you will not only have the opportunity to plan and design a different “Back Bay” but you will be able to compare what was actually done with what one (you!!) could have done.

Imagine Boston in the topographical shape of the late 18th century!

When the first settlers founded Boston, its topography looked much different from what it looks now. At that time Boston was a pear-shaped peninsula, which was connected to the mainland only through a narrow neck.

The peninsula was bordered by large tidal flats and had many inlets and coves. One of these, North Cove, was cut off by a mill dam/causeway already in 1640. On a small scale, the shoreline was changed more or less continuously from that time onwards. However, changes on a larger scale did not occur until the beginning of the 19th century.

Design Task

You are charged with the development of the Back Bay area based on the topography as it existed around 1800 but using modern construction technology and satisfying present day requirements. You have to create a mixed residential-commercial area with 50,000 inhabitants. You are completely free in your choice of buildings, access (transportation), utilities, providing foundations and so on.

The result of your work should be in form of a rough plan indicating residential/commercial zones, major streets or other access. In an accompanying report (max. 4 pages, double-spaced) you should explain how your design satisfies the boundary conditions and how it addresses structural, aesthetic and environmental concerns. You should also indicate if what you propose will end up with medium or with high costs. More specific comments on the deliverables are given on the next page.

Very important: Do not assume that what has been done, i.e. the present Back Bay, is the best solution!

Back Bay Pre-Handout (PDF - 1.4 MB)

Learning Resource Types
group_work Projects