Context / History:
Five miles north of Boston is a well-known coastal landmark, Revere Beach. To Bostonians, it conjures images of a “North Shore” beach community and its varied inland landscape characterized by sand, salt marshes, gently rolling drumlins, and grasslands. The land, once rich in fish and game, and inhabited by the Pawtucket Indians, underwent radical transformations. During the 1930’s the 1940s Revere Beach witnessed the construction of major recreational attractions, and an amusement park.
The post-war period witnessed a continued and gradual decline, until recent efforts to re-vitalize it. It is a place on the edge (of the city and landscape) and is conveniently connected by rail and major arteries. Consequently its development potential is extremely valuable.
Any transformation of Revere should be sensitive to the landscape and its ecosystems, and honor its unique historic and current role as a place between places. Today it is a poorly defined place between places, lacking a strong identity.
Building on the strengths of Revere’s history, its landscape, and infrastructure system are the keys to reviving this community. Integrated infrastructure systems and linked to walkable public spaces landscape, will improve its function and identity as a gateway, destination, and crossroads. Strengthening and repair the morphology of the working class neighborhoods adjacent to the beachfront, by filling in and extending street and block patterns, will include the larger community rather than shut them out.
The following tactics were deployed in transforming Revere Beach so as to both repair the landscape and re-invigorate the community’s economic and social development:
- A new inter-modal station, integrating multiple transportation lines, roadways and parking is created.
- A new neighborhood fabric is created along Ocean Ave, by extending the street pattern of adjacent neighborhoods into this development area.
- Creating a prominent presence on the waterfront, is achieved through the dramatic design of towers (with commercial and cultural uses) sandwiched between the new inter-modal station and Revere Beach Boulevard.
- A new “landscape armature” extends along the north-south axis (parallel to the beach) and original wetlands with all of the major new public spaces / courtyards and neighborhoods.
- Connections between the beach and the westerly neighborhoods are created by building a link (over a major thoroughfare: Route One). It connects the town center and a new pier extending into the water.
- The large strip mall to the south of Wonderland Park, and its vacuous parking lots are converted into a more vibrant district with improved land-use efficiencies.
This project illustrates how a badly scarred landscape, can be transformed over time to create a place where the reconstituted presence of the landscape is complimented by higher value uses. The result is a new fabric of neighborhoods, reflecting Revere’s rich history, yet serving as a nexus of activities and infrastructure.