With the Boston Marathon less than 48 hours away, we are bracing for both the exhilaration and logistical insanity of the race on Monday. One of the most intriguing aspects of the Marathon is its immediate and palpable urban intensity – transforming your everyday main street into the hub of the universe for a day.
One of our main corridors here in the Town of Brookline, Beacon Street, is one such destination along the Marathon route that becomes flooded with a sea of humanity on Marathon Monday. As the final Brookline gateway before the final mile and a half of the Marathon, the St. Mary’s neighborhood, in particular, provides a uniquely dramatic backdrop for the final push: characterized by throngs of supporters (many from nearby Boston University) and the emergence of myriad large-scale graphics and banners, similar to the ones on the left and below at the St. Mary’s MBTA “T” stop.
We’ve always wondered if there was a way we could capture the excitement of Marathon Monday and somehow make it a permanent part of the urban fabric of this neighborhood. The kinetic energy of movement – runners, cars, and trains – at St. Mary’s is a key design theme in our streetscape study for the Economic Development Department in the Town of Brookline. In 2012, XChange Architects was invited to assist the Town Economic Development staff in a concept-level urban design charrette to help imagine the possibilities to enhance the commercial vibrancy of the St. Mary District by rethinking existing streetscape elements.
As a threshold between the Town of Brookline and the Fenway District of Boston, we propose a public art installation for St. Mary’s in the form of a pair of large-scale directional signage that celebrates this sense of movement; borrowing from Fenway green while taking scalar clues from Marathon supergraphics.
All photographs, images and drawings copyright Blair Hines Design Associates and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.