North Street Playground
Weston & Sampson designed improvements to the North Street Playground, an oasis for residents of a socially and economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Somerville. The existing park sits on a hillside above the Alewife Brook Greenway and bikepath; the design for the new park provides a gateway to this large recreational area. New entrances and pathways are strategically placed to improve local connections between an adjacent community housing development and the surrounding neighborhood.
The community was integral to the design of the park, giving critical insight into issues of safety and the need for play. The park’s design combines universal accessibility, maximized play, gathering opportunities, and green buffer zones to create a space the community can take pride in.
The new design reorganizes and enhances existing park amenities while adding new features for neighborhood park users. Improvements include updated playground equipment, accessible rubber safety surfacing, a half-basketball/soccer court, tennis bounce board, splash pad, and café seating area. Curved walls define the space while providing additional seating options. New planting areas and mounded lawn inject much needed green space into a very small urban park.
Sustainable design approaches also were implemented. The splash pad uses low-flow features that drain to infiltration chambers to limit water usage and alleviate demand on city storm sewer systems. The design worked around the preservation of five large, mature honey locust trees, providing much needed shade to the seating and play areas. In addition, the design employed community-based initiatives such as signage that showed park users their proximity to other recreational resources in the area, and a park "logo" that provides an identity for both the park and neighborhood.