Running the Course: Unifying Franklin Park One Step at a Time

site plan.

by Lucy Humphreys (MLA ’22)

Franklin Park, the Eastern-most park of Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace, exists at the intersection of Roxbury, Dorchester, Forest Hills, and Jamaica Plain, four culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods. Although the 527-acre park provides significant recreative opportunities for nearby residents, it is not a unified park. For example, one cannot move comfortably from Refectory Hill to the Playstead without hitting a paywall or circumventing the golf course. Franklin Park therefore presents a tremendous opportunity for unification.

The experience of a large park can be a valuable one. Franklin Park offers an immersive interiority into nature that would otherwise be inaccessible for many residents surrounding the park. Franklin Park offers a common outdoor experience for neighboring residents, fostering a sense of community in the greater Boston area. Additionally, I believe there is value in revitalizing and investing in existing landscapes and communities. Elements like the cross-country course, the zoo, and the playgrounds offer key programming for the surrounding neighborhoods and Boston at large.

Site analysis

My goal in this project is to revitalize Franklin Park by augmenting the unique and world-renowned cross-country course that brings athletes from all over the world and unifies the park for a few days of the year. The path of the course is the catalyst for a new range and scale of social spaces, vegetation revitalizing strategies, and land forming interventions designed to stitch the park together. It will create a new rhythm for the park.

The aspiration of this project is to evoke further enthusiasm, excitement, and interest in Franklin Park as a community space for the surrounding neighborhoods and the greater Boston area. Race Day, and the landscape network it supports, renders the park truly public.