The former Domino Sugar refinery site, part of the Schrafft’s Campus in Charlestown, Massachusetts, lies on a 55-acre former industrial property on the Mystic River that has been vacant for many years and has become a breach point for flooding during storm events. Recently, site owner The Flatley Company had a vision of turning the property into a waterfront mixed-use development. Given the waterfront location, the vision would need to address concerns over climate change-induced sea level rise. In addition to NELSON Worldwide, they selected Weston & Sampson to develop a master plan and design features to protect the site itself and neighboring properties from existing and future flooding from predicted sea-level rise.
Our team’s approach is to protect the site from predicted 2070 sea level rise and climate change by incorporating a resilient flood barrier at an elevation of 22 feet. By raising the existing grades along the waterfront, a hierarchy of new multi-level, accessible public pedestrian open spaces will be created, offering users a multitude of spatial experiences. These features will include:
- A new ¾-mile waterfront walk to connect the local neighborhood to Ryan Playground and Sullivan Square beyond and provide regional flood protection
- Green infrastructure site enhancements for both stormwater and urban heat island mitigation
- Multiple seating opportunities to provide users with places of respite in areas of natural shade
- Large lawn areas for concerts, recreation, or passive activities and to provide an opportunity for users to visually connect with the Mystic River
- A central pedestrian spine to connect Medford Street to the Mystic River and waterfront promenade beyond, with a central stormwater channel
- Incorporation of Complete Streets concepts for multi-modal uses
- LED lighting site-wide to create a safe environment after dark
Pedestrian and bike connections throughout the site offer users varied means of accessing and using the site for recreation purposes. The bike paths also connect to the newly created Massport bike path adjacent to Medford Street.
The open space goals of our design were to create meaningful places where people can connect with one another, the local neighborhood, and the water. A redesigned boat launch and new kayak ramp will allow site users to gain access to the water that is currently lacking. When the redevelopment of this former industrial site is complete, 13 acres of new public open space will have been created, with five of those acres along the waterfront.