420 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Richardson Plaza Redesign
Northeastern had a vision for transforming the underutilized Richardson Plaza, adjacent to the School of Law and Huntington Avenue, into a bustling destination spot for rotating art exhibitions, student projects, live performances, outdoor classrooms, and gatherings.
To realize the plaza’s potential, the university turned to Landing Studio, a Boston-area architectural firm. Landing Studio was founded by Dan Adams, associate professor and director of the School of Architecture, and his partner, Marie Law Adams, a lecturer of urban design and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Together, they are overseeing the plaza’s transformation. The firm’s experience in enlivening outdoor spaces in Boston to be more dynamic, welcoming, and usable for the public made it uniquely qualified for Richardson Plaza’s redesign.
The project focuses on adding more comfortable seating, shade, and eventually power outlets for public use. Prior to the fall 2020 semester, work crews began revamping the area by building and installing modular wooden furniture and bringing in trees in rolling planter boxes. Rounding out the plaza project are colorful wooden caps that will cover the existing fixed concrete seating areas, inviting people to kick back longer. The locally-sourced wood used in the project, Cypress hardwood, comes from a historic mill in New Hampshire and is a sustainable alternative to tropical hardwoods.
“We’re not trying to imitate and mimic nature but make nature work for this urban context and provide all the benefits of shade and habitat and beauty to this environment.”
In 2019, the Northeastern community and beyond got an early taste of how the plaza can be reimagined and reactivated. Tomislav Topic, one half of the Berlin-based street duo known as Quintessenz, created an art installation that redefines one of the plaza’s entrances. The installation consists of 76 unique hand-painted mesh banners hung from steel structures that create an optical illusion as they shift in the wind. And in fall 2020, artist Felipe Ortiz created a new mural on the side of the Stearns Center facing Huntington Avenue.
Landing Studio, working closely with Facilities Program Director Chuck Doughty, who oversees landscaping for Northeastern, carefully designed the planter boxes to serve as a nursery. As the trees in the plaza outgrow the planters, they will be replanted on campus to become a permanent part of the university arboretum.