This design study, in conversation with Chris Matthews of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, explores the transformation of a public space in Cambridge through the introduction of a single tree species. The site, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Mount Auburn Street, is a large traffic island surrounded by lifeless office buildings. The area is bleak, almost a non-space.
Utilizing the Paulownia tomentosa, the Princess tree, the design intervention creates a space that is both successful in terms of scale and visual interest. The Princess tree grows quickly, making it a great candidate to craft a space expediently. The specimen also creates large pink/purple flows in spring adding visual interest and aesthetic beauty; when not in bloom, the Paulownia has over-sized leaves, making it a perfect shade tree.
The design transforms the traffic island from an circulation impediment into an occupiable and desirable space.
Design Critic: Chris Matthews