Smallest Whole Foods Store Opens in Brookline: Saint Mary’s Re-imagined?

WF - opening weekendThe smallest branch of the Whole Foods empire opened yesterday morning in the St. Mary’s Commercial District in Brookline, Massachusetts.  In replacing the old Johnnie’s Fresh Market, a neighborhood favorite (disclaimer:  our previous studio was a mere 2 blocks away from the store), the new addition elicited a healthy debate about change, vibrancy, and the quality of community character in the commercial districts in Brookline.  Whatever your opinion of WF may be, there is no question that the new store will generate considerable  foot traffic to the area, which serves as a vital eastern gateway to the City of Boston – directly abutting Audubon Circle in the Fenway.

XChange Architects was invited by the Economic Development Department in the Town of Brookline in 2012 to assist in a concept-level urban design charette with commercial area stakeholders and the Brookline Chamber of Commerce to help imagine the possibilities to enhance the commercial vibrancy of the St. Mary District by rethinking existing streetscape elements:  wayfinding components, street fixtures, storefront interfaces, edge conditions, and the inter-relationship between the Commercial District and the MBTA above-ground “T” station.

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PUBLIC ART – a site art concept using colorful footprints to literally map pedestrian foot traffic to highlight the MBTA platform’s role as a bridge in this neighborhood

St Mary - WP

STOREFRONTS – a potential storefront renovation concept for The Wine Press

St Mary - DD seating

STREET FURNITURE – a concept to provide modular retractable street furniture to subdivide public and private sidewalk spaces along Beacon Street in order to activate the deep, underutilized sidewalks on Beacon Street.

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MBTA SUBWAY PLATFORM INTEGRATION THROUGH SITE INSTALLATIONS – a series of landscape interventions and site art installations were explored to improve the metering and flow of T customers accessing the platform

Design Collaborator:

Landscape Architect – Blair Hines Design Associates

All drawings, images, and photos are the copyright of Blair Hines Design Associates and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise indicated.

Tree Gardens: Architecture and The Forest

TG Cover

We’re delighted that our friend and collaborator – landscape architect, writer, and educator – Gina M. Crandell, has just announced the release of her latest book, Tree Gardens:  Architecture and the Forest, published by Princeton Architectural Press.  For more information and reviews of the publication, please go to the PAP website  To purchase a copy, kindly consider supporting your local book purveyor.

In anticipation of the release, we developed an installation concept for a potential book-related event.  Our proposed exhibition concept entitled, Tree Gardens: Architecture and the Forest, will fully exploit its eponymous book’s case studies of 15 designed urban forests—ranging from Versailles to the recently opened 9/11 Memorial Forest—while seeking to transform the exhibit space into a dynamic three-dimensional experience that projects key spatial principles of the book.


Our proposed “forest” of sculptural trees makes visceral the dimensions of each of the projects’ structures as it also directs visitors to the exhibit’s photographs and drawings that illuminate the context and depth of each project.  On the left is the exhibition floor plan illustrating the array of “tree grids” occupying the space.

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The photomontages above depict the potential exhibition components in situ.

Drawings and montages copyright XChange Architects LLC and Gina Crandell Landscape Architecture.  Cover thumbnail image of Tree Gardens was posted with the permission of the Author.