An Industrial Past, a Recreational Future

Hood Plaza at Hood Park
Charlestown, MA

Hood Plaza is the physical and social heart of the newly transformed Hood Park in Charlestown. Formerly a drab parking lot, the Plaza offers a recreational escape for Charlestown residents and the growing population of office, lab, and retail workers employed by the site’s tenants.

The design draws inspiration from Hood Park’s 200-year-old industrial history: its proximity to the old Middlesex Canal, original use as a mill pond, and subsequent use as the Hoods Milk plant. More importantly, the Plaza provides a welcoming outdoor space for a broad mix of people. It kick-starts the process of integrating this once-isolated industrial complex into a true extension of the surrounding neighborhood.

Aerial view of summer party at Hood Park in Charlestown, MA

The old site had existed only for private parking and vehicular circulation. By contrast, the Plaza is a vibrant, pedestrian-first space designed for the enjoyment of the local community, including residents of the nearby Harvey apartment building.

Couple eating outdoors at community event at Hood Plaza in Charlestown, MA

Children playing on raised grass mound at Hood Plaza in Charlestown

Child playing in the splash pad fountain at Hood Park in Charlestown

The Plaza hosts festivals, farmers markets, and community events, and features a specially designed access area for food trucks and other vehicles. An interactive Splash Pad offers a place for local parents to bring their kids and play in a safe environment. Grassy mounds and seat walls allow visitors to lounge and relax.

The design borrows from local history. Opened in 1803, the Middlesex Canal once connected the Merrimack River at Lowell to Boston Harbor at Charlestown. Its original route ran directly through the site of Hood Park, passing between a mill pond to the west and Rutherford Avenue to the east.









The Plaza’s main water feature, dubbed The Pond, pays tribute to the old canal and mill pond. The design brings the water hard up against adjacent buildings and the iconic Hood's Milk smokestack—just as New England’s historic mills and factories sat cheek-by-jowl with canals and waterways. Native plants poke from the water, just as local flora thrived at the mill pond. 

Sunset reflecting off 100 Hood Park Drive at Hood Plaza in Charlestown

Hood Park is located on former tide lands about 1,400 feet from waterways connected to Boston Harbor. As such, the area has increasingly been at risk from severe coastal flooding. To mitigate this, the design raises the grade of the Plaza and its environs by four feet.

This futureproofing is made possible thanks to the site’s industrial past. The existing buildings were designed at an elevated grade to allow for the loading of dairy products. By raising the Plaza, the design not only addresses flooding concerns but greatly improves accessibility to the buildings by eliminating most exterior stairs.