CityOfBoston Official An official website of the City of Boston

This is the website for the City of Boston’s new Planning Department, which launched on July 1. The staff and many responsibilities of the Boston Planning & Development Agency have moved to the Planning Department of the City of Boston including planning & zoning, urban design, development review, and real estate divisions. Please excuse any misalignment you may see on our site as we transition to the City. Learn more

The framing of the Downtown Waterfront Design and Use Guidelines is a requirement of the Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan. Based upon a recent court decision, the Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan is not in effect. The Planning Department is temporarily pausing the public engagement process to allow the Commonwealth the opportunity to exercise its appeals rights and determine the next steps to authorize municipal harbor plans, including the Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan, and address the administrative/technical concerns raised in the court decision.

Learn more about the Commonwealth's process to address the court decision.

Design & Use Guidelines: Project Portal & Interactive Feedback Map

To learn about the Design & Use Guidelines process and share your ideas, visit the project portal by clicking the image below or this link. You can submit your comments, thoughts, and feedback through the Interactive Feedback Map, the comment form on this page, or by emailing [email protected]. Check back often for updates, news, material and recordings of events.

Visit the Interactive Feedback Map

Downtown Waterfront Design and Use Guidelines

The Design and Use Guidelines are being developed to advance the open space and public realm objectives of the 2017 Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan & Public Realm Activation Plan. The guidelines are intended to provide consistent design standards for both exterior and interior public spaces, wayfinding elements, landscaping, signage, and public amenities to improve connectivity within the district and to adjacent open space resources such as the Greenway and Boston Harbor. Climate resilience will be a priority in the development of the Guidelines to ensure the long-term viability of public spaces. Design options to support a variety of year-round public activation and programming will also be explored. Additionally, the project will develop management concepts to better coordinate vessel berthing, water transportation, and shoreside support infrastructure. The final Guidelines will inform new development and public realm improvements to ensure the district is welcoming, active, and accessible to all residents and visitors.

Background on the Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative

The Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative was initiated to implement the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway District Use and Development Guidelines, which were adopted by the BPDA in 2010 to preserve and activate the Greenway’s open space resources and enhance connections between the Downtown’s neighborhood districts and waterfront.

A Municipal Harbor Planning process was initiated in 2013 to harmonize the Greenway Guideline’s recommendations with the state’s Waterways Regulations and leverage new growth spurred by the removal of the elevated artery and Harbor cleanup to improve dated public infrastructure and enhance public use of the waterfront. The resulting Municipal Harbor Plan and Watersheet Activation Plan developed flexible dimensional standards for the Harbor Garage and Hook Wharf sites, and improvements to the public realm and waterfront to be delivered along with the redevelopment of the properties. The Harbor Plan provides over an acre of new open space, including a new park and Harbor Islands Gateway at Long Wharf, additions to Harborwalk, funding to support activation of the Fort Point Channel, and support of the New England Aquarium’s Blueway Vision.

Public Meetings

Design & Use Guidelines for the Downtown Waterfront Public Meeting

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Meeting video recording

At the first virtual community workshop for the Downtown Waterfront Design & Use Guidelines, we shared ideas on how to better activate, navigate and adapt the Downtown Waterfront, and how to make the public realm more welcoming and accessible to all residents and visitors.

Documents All Documents »

Share Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! All questions, comments and ideas are welcome. Comments are received and reviewed by members of the Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative team.

To submit a comment in a language besides English, please email [email protected].
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