Famed for its parks and public spaces, Boston also has a long industrial history. Today, the city finds itself identifying industrial sites to build more housing for a population growing faster than expected, according to Boston 2030, a plan commissioned by Mayor Michelle Wu. Hood Park is one of these and will be an exemplary transformation of an industrial site into a vibrant urban neighborhood, reinventing the Hood Dairy Company’s historic production facility into a mixed-use district encompassing offices, labs, residences, retail space, and a hotel. The ambitious mixed-use plan will reconceive the area, and now-nondescript Rutherford Avenue will become an attractive pedestrian street with multiple uses, including bike paths and landscaped sidewalks.
The Hood Park development will improve the long-term resiliency of the site and its neighbors by planning to raise a large portion of the 20-acre campus ground-level plane (streets, sidewalks, and building entries) by up to four feet to combat climate and sea-level change, and limit weather-related damage to the site. Envisioned to be a destination for the neighborhood, the new Hood Bike Park is the early crown jewel of the future Hood Park complex.
An example of place-making at its best, the 22,000-square-foot Hood Bike Park is conceived as a community focal point to attract not just Hood Park tenants and residents, but those from across Rutherford Avenue in the main area of Charlestown – a venue for concerts, neighborhood festivals, farmers’ markets, and other uses by and for the community. Designed to serve as a buffer from the adjacent elevated interstate highway, rail corridor, recycling center, and other industrial uses, the plane of the park’s landscape was lifted and tilted to orient it away from the industrial sites, while the grove of trees at the top – called “the perch” – visually shields the park from the highway and rail lines. With seating, tables, and a view of the landmark brick Hood smokestack, the perch also overlooks the lawn, which gently slopes downward toward the flat area at the bottom that can be used as a stage.
Native plantings were selected for their ability to capture air pollution, and the site is designed to filter and reuse stormwater. A wood-clad pavilion tucked under the perch houses bicycle facilities (storage, repair shop, public restrooms, showers, and lockers). Gently sloping ramps make the entire park accessible for all.
For now, with the Hood Park development still to come, the Hood Bike Park seems a bit otherworldly. But soon it will become the neighborhood village green, the community amphitheater, and the beating heart at the center of it all.