Located in Boston’s West End, Thoreau Path is a 20’ wide passageway that provides emergency egress to the residential towers and pedestrian connections to businesses and residences. The Path knits together a superblock of residential high-rises known as the Charles River Park.
On June 28, 2009, the BRA issued a Request for Proposals for design services for Thoreau Path in response to requests that the Path be renovated. (While each of the individual buildings along the Path own the fee, the City’s Public Works Department owns the easement to the Path for emergency vehicle access). After a competitive selection process, on September 15, 2009, the BRA Board approved the selection of the design firm of Stoss Landscape Urbanism to assist the BRA.
The scope of work was limited to the City-owned right-of-way easement (see map, available below), and the resultant site improvements addressed many issues, including the overall path design, the condition of the existing landscape, a comprehensive signage program including directional, gateway and interpretative signage, Boston Fire Department emergency access, site drainage, and any enhancement measures along Thoreau Path, which have added to its use as a pedestrian thoroughfare and neighborhood open space. The final design included a new surface, wayfinding, trees and plantings as well as improved drainage and seating.
As part of the design process, the BRA met with the West End community in a series of community meetings. These meetings were open to the general public and were designed to engage the public directly in a dialogue about what specific site improvements were required.
The site improvements were completed in the Fall of 2010.