An Urban Renaissance: The Hood Park Master Plan

Hood Park Master Plan
Charlestown, MA

Charlestown’s Hood Park, initially a mill pond before being converted into a freight depot with railroad intersections, is currently on the cusp of a 21st century evolution — from an industrial landmark to an attractive urban destination.

 

Historic exterior view of the Hood Milk Plant, undated.

 

SMMA was hired behind the 20-acre site’s master plan to transform the former Hood Business Park into a desirable corner of Charlestown. The developing location, which has already undergone several changes to welcome new local establishments, refines its connectivity and accessibility to the rest of the neighborhood by offering all the perks of a lively city district: nearby public transit, parks and bike paths, retail, and about 1.1 million sf of office, lab, and residential space.

Extending the Street Grid

A primary focus of the new master plan is to extend the neighborhood street grid. The goal is to enable Hood Park as an integral part of nearby Sullivan Square and the Rutherford Avenue corridor through reconfiguring and reconstructing the surrounding streets. Though existing arterial patterns remain, some new ones have been added. The primary streets consist of Supertest Street, Stack Street, and Hood Park Drive. The secondary streets are formed by extensions of Supertest Street, Stack Street, and Half Pint Way, which intersects with Hood Park Drive. The new grid will create predictable and complete streets that connect the future redevelopment of adjacent properties to the north, south, and west. These streets will also enhance vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian connections to and from the rest of Charlestown.

Building into the Future

Though it could be 10-15 years before Hood Park is fully built out, the site will strive towards the goals of creating dynamic architectural diversity among buildings, incorporating active retail space, and maintaining a clear view of main corridors, new streetscapes, and open spaces. Current buildings of Hood Park include:

  • The Harvey at 50 Hood Park Drive (not designed by SMMA), a residential building that establishes an active retail edge along both Rutherford Ave. and Hood Park Drive.

 

  • 100 Hood Park Drive, a garage structure that features ground-level retail, office lab space on its second floor, and parking in the remainder of the structure. It is also designed to accommodate a vertical 4-story expansion for future lab and office space needs.
     
  • 10 Stack Street, an ambitious, Class A office building of approximately 390,000 sf that serves as a commercial anchor to the overall development.

Green, Open Spaces

The new Hood Park contributes significant and versatile green space to the area through landscaped rooftop terraces and a series of episodic landscape moments, often in the form of small parks or gathering spaces:

  • Hood Green can be considered the “Central Park” of the development. It is conceived as a one-acre space that could serve as a venue for concerts, neighborhood festivals, farmer’s markets, and more.
     
  • The Pond is a two-level water feature that enlivens the Powerhouse and its adjacent and iconic “Hoods Milk” chimney stack. It will serve as a playful respite for the neighborhood, especially during the summertime.
     
  • The Garden Passage, The Lawns, and The Market are small-scale parks along Stack Street. The openness of this area will allow for the flexibility, creating an opportunity for adjacent retail to spill outdoors to take advantage of desirable outdoor café or lunch spots.
     
  • Finally, the Stack Street Park will be to the east of the 10 Stack Street office tower. This is a smaller-scale, more intimate outdoor atmosphere ideal for string quartets or other small groupings in warmer weather, and a small sledding hill for children in the colder weather due to its sloping site.

Sustainability and Resiliency

The ownership of Hood Park reflects a strong commitment to longevity and sustainability. The complex’s extensive use of exterior green space will minimize the impervious areas and increase the overall reflectivity of the site, reducing impacts associated with stormwater and similar threats. Due to its proximity to the Mystic River, the site is also in a flood zone. To address this issue, most of the site is raised 2 to 3 feet while maintaining existing elevations at the property line.

As for energy efficiency, all buildings will be designed to meet or exceed the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code. The buildings will feature high efficiency HVAC systems, LED site lighting, Energy Star equipment where applicable, sub-metering of tenant space, and rooftop photovoltaic systems for on-site renewable energy generation. Hood Park also greatly enhances the connection with the nearby mass transit; its streets are designed to comply with Boston’s Complete Streets guide to promote walking and bicycling.