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Esplanade 2020

Esplanade 2020 A Vision for the Future

The Esplanade 2020 Final Report contains guiding principles and clearly defined objectives for the park’s future. It illustrates how these principles, consistently applied, can transform Boston’s waterside park into one of the world’s great urban outdoor spaces. With your help, we can make it happen.

Watch the Esplanade 2020 Presentation:

Read the Esplanade 2020 Report (click here):


In 2009 The Esplanade Association (TEA) initiated Esplanade 2020 A Vision for the Future in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The goal of Esplanade 2020 is “To forge a shared vision for the park’s future—one rooted in its nineteenth century origins, but looking forward to address the needs of the broad contemporary public.”

The Need

The Charles River Esplanade ranks among the Commonwealth’s greatest assets. It lies at the center of a network of parks planned by landscape architect Charles Eliot in the 1890s—indeed, he called the Esplanade the system’s “crown jewel.” More than a century later, however, the jewel has lost its sparkle. The Esplanade needs revitalization and long-term care. A lack of resources, repeatedly deferred maintenance, and extraordinary popularity (an estimated 3 million annual visitors, reaching a typical daily peak of 20,000 in summer) have degraded the park’s paths, landscape, and beautiful original structures. The Esplanade has been “loved to death.” Although several studies have identified some of the park’s biggest problems, a broad vision for its future has never emerged. Until now.

Call to Action

As part of the park’s centennial in 2010, TEA assembled a team of leading Boston design and planning specialists to take a fresh look at every element of the park. Working closely with the DCR, park users, and major stakeholders, this dedicated group of volunteers spent more than a year crafting a vision of what this remarkable open-space resource could become. Landscape architects, urban designers, architects, horticulturists, transportation experts, and graphic designers donated thousands of hours to the 2020 Vision Committee. The 2020 Committee held more than a dozen meetings with the general public, individual stakeholders, business and community groups. Their input helped the committee establish guiding principles, create a vision statement, and define objectives. Esplanade 2020 illustrates ways in which these core principles, consistently applied, can transform Boston’s waterside park into one of the world’s great urban outdoor spaces.

Guiding Principles

All of the recommendations put forth in Esplanade 2020 for the park landscape, access and circulation, activities and supporting facilities, and identity, abide by these five guiding principles:

1) Reinforce the park’s traditions

Enhance and restore the core design of the park. Continue to develop ways in which the land and the water work best together and enhance the Esplanade experience. Preserve and restore the best historic settings, buildings, and sites. Ensure that new park structures complement the land.

2) Reclaim as much parkland as possible

Over the years the Esplanade has lost land to highway construction and particular interests that have taken possession of significant tracts of parkland. Esplanade 2020 aims to reclaim parkland paved over to accommodate traffic and to regain as much previously public open space as possible.

3) Make the park sustainable and maintainable

The Esplanade’s landscape and structures need to be built sustainably and strategically maintained by knowledgeable and trained staff. Establish guidelines and standards to maintain the highest quality of design, construction, and restoration for the park.

4) Make the park readily accessible

The park needs to be accessible in the broadest sense: easily reached from different points across the city and universally accessible to people of every physical ability level. This would include better pedestrian and bicycle access and strategic wayfinding, both within and outside the park.

5) Provide modern facilities for modern uses throughout the year

Upgrade the Esplanade to accommodate 21st-century activities and uses that cater to all people. Any new facility and setting should represent the best designs of its era, while insuring the broadest range of year-round uses possible.


Esplanade 2020 Committee

David Black, a resident of Boston, is an experienced transportation engineer with a focus on planning and designing for multimodal mobility in the urban environment. Having practiced previously in London, he has worked in the private sector in Boston for almost 25 years, involved at a strategic level as well as locally in numerous city neighborhoods.
Frank Costantino, ASAI, FAIA, has enjoyed a 40-year illustration career providing drawings and paintings for major projects for many major firms in Boston, and has served a national clientele for decades. An accomplished watercolorist, he has lately been pursuing fine art interests with civic agencies and in numerous shows.
Mark Favermann is an urban designer who has been deeply involved in branding and making more accessible parts of cities, sports venues and key institutions. He specializes in using the tools of architecture, industrial, and environmental graphic design to create distinctive visual and user-friendly public signatures.
Antonio Gomes, AIA, is founder of the design firm Antonio Gomes Architect, a multidisciplinary architecture practice with experience working on a wide range of building types and scales. Prior to launching the firm, he practiced at architectural offices in Boston and New York. His experience includes six years working for and collaborating with Charles Gwathmey of the firm Gwathmey Siegel. He has also served as design critic at various architecture institutions.
Craig C. Halvorson, FASLA, is founding principal at Halvorson Design Partnership, a firm of landscape architects established in Boston in 1980. His broad-ranging practice has included public parks, urban plazas, historic landscapes, waterfronts, campuses, cemeteries, museums, natural areas and private residences.
Anthony Pangaro has engaged in private real-estate development since 1980, directing more than $2.5 billion in work, including Boston’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Towers. Prior public service included developing Boston’s Southwest Corridor rapid-rail/park system; positions at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and New York’s Urban Development Corporation; and procurement of San Juan, PR’s Tren Urbano rail system. He is a registered architect.
John Stebbins, AIA, LEED AP, is Principal Emeritus at Cambridge Seven Associates, having previously worked with RTKL, Baltimore; SOM Washington; and Building Design Partnership, London, where his design focus involved urban, architectural, exhibit and graphic design.
Florrie Wescoat, a garden designer and artist, has worked in Colorado, Illinois, and Massachusetts. She serves as a member of the Public Planting Committee in Cambridge and a volunteer at the Arnold Arboretum, and she is co-designing a tree tour in Cambridge.
Steve Wolf has worked as both a designer and writer/editor. Currently Senior Graphic Designer for the planning and urban design practice at Goody Clancy (where he also co-directs new media), he served two terms on TEA’s board of directors. He has been actively involved with community organizations in the Fenway for more than 20 years.