RAYMOND V. MELLONE PARK
Allston, MA (2008–2011)
Raymond V. Mellone Park is a 1.75-acre landscape adjacent to the popular Honan Allston branch of the Boston Public Library, designed by Machado Silvetti. The park is the result of an unusual arrangement: while it is owned by the city and operated as a public park, the design, construction, and first 10 years of maintenance were paid for by Harvard University as a gift to the Allston community. Although the park is small, a series of articulated spaces—including two lawns, an outdoor classroom, a reading circle, a hilltop prospect, and a rain garden—provide for a wide range of activities and experiences. The park will also facilitate pedestrian connections in the surrounding neighborhoods and between nearby civic institutions, in part by plugging into future Harvard-Allston Greenway, which starts at Raymond V. Mellone Park and terminates at the Charles River.
The library and community expressed interest in a passive, contemplative park that would serve users of all ages. MVVA's design is playful without being a playground; whimsical forms and planted outdoor rooms create settings for book readings and imagination-driven play. Architectural artifacts in the form of granite lion heads were salvaged from a nearby construction site and transformed into a spray fountain. An oval lawn defines space for cookouts, picnics, and ad-hoc games such as lawn volleyball, and a 14-foot-tall hill planted with meadow grasses offers unobstructed views of Allston, the future greenway, the Charles River and Cambridge. The park is also designed to be a pilot project in sustainability—it incorporates efficient LED lighting, an organic maintenance regime, restored wildlife habitat, and sustainable maintenance of stormwater runoff, among other achievements.