Audubon Circle is one small remnant of Frederick Law Olmsted’s large body of work in Boston. Though historically important, the Circle has devolved into a congested traffic rotary, formidable in scale to any pedestrians who dare to cross it. For this project, our team sought to devise a plan that would honor Olmsted’s historical legacy while carrying forth his deeper vision of urban reformation.
One of the pioneer projects to be designed under Boston’s Complete Streets Initiative, the proposed design for Audubon Circle and adjacent Beacon Street and Park Drive will restore a sense of entrance and linkage between Brookline, Boston and the Muddy River. While removing the Circle’s slip lanes will enhance traffic flow through the intersection, it will terminate the last visual vestiges of the Circle. The redesign, however, strengthens Olmsted’s original idea to balance transportation modes. Improvements to circulation, urban design, planting, and surface infrastructure reinforce the historical geometry and returns this intersection to its intended prominence.
A low circular wall with custom lighting and interpretive information enhance the Circle’s visibility and highlight the importance of the space. Drainage from the adjacent sloped gardens at the wall, the roadway, and the walkways drops into rain gardens that are proposed at three corners to filter and percolate storm water – putting landscape in service of infrastructure. The project is a green infrastructure demonstration project for the City of Boston.