Friday, January 27, 2012

Design Chosen for New Harris Park: Check Out the Cool Fly-Through Video

Update Feb. 28: Recently, residents chose between two designs for New Harris Park. On Wednesday, Feb. 29, City planners will reveal the updated design at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Cross Street Senior Center, 165 Broadway. Come give your feedback on Somerville’s newest park.

On Wednesday, more than 60 people, including many youths, gathered to review two design proposals for the new Harris Park in East Somerville. After much discussion, the design called "The Mountain" emerged as the favorite. It features a gently sloping central hill, which recalls East Somerville's historic Mt. Benedict. The new space is also loaded with features requested by residents via two public meetings, school projects, and discussions with local youths, as well with comments collected by a multi-lingual postcard campaign and on Facebook, Twitter, and the ResiStat blog.

For the first time, we have more than just drawings and renderings to share. Somerville-based design firm GroundView, which developed the designs for the park, also prepared video fly-throughs. The gray-scale 3D images are very simple "outlines" (trees, for example, are respresented by rods). But viewed in combination with the images in this blog post and the full presentation, you can get a good sense of the new park. To see the presentation, click HERE. To see the fly-through, click HERE. To better understand them, keep reading...

Climbing equipment, a slide, and an ADA compliant sloping path will be integrated into the central hill or "mountain" shown to the right. Numerous trees lining the edges of the park and forming shade clusters throughout the 18,000 sq. ft. space will also serve as "lungs" for the neighborhood, absorbing exhaust from nearby I-93 and purifying the air.

Active features include: 
  • Swings
  • Teeter-totter
  • Toddler play area with "assembly" play building, spring cars, and a box car track
  • Water play feature (rain style) that can double as a movie screen frame (see the tall, yellow, rectangular pipe-like feature in the rendering at the top) 
  • Safety surfaces poured-in-place
  • Bocce court
  • 100% accessibility
Passive features include:
  • Chuckie Harris Memorial
  • Community amphitheater and movie screen
  • Community garden
  • Ample seating: benches, cafe tables, picnic tables, chairs
  • Lawn and ground cover
  • Tree canopy
  • Rain garden
  • Perimeter fence
  • Lighting
  • Water fountain
  • Bike racks

Construction is expected to start this summer. You can come enjoy the new space when it opens in summer 2013. Curious about the other design? It's called "The Forest" and includes 100 air-and-water-purifying trees and open areas for recreational features. View its fly-through HERE, and see slides showing the details in the presentation mentioned above HERE.

Project updates are posted on the City’s website HERE. For more information, contact Luisa Oliveira at

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