Water, water everywhere—but in Boston, where water makes up nearly half of the city’s 90 square miles, you wouldn’t always know it. “This past June I was on the Boston Climate Bridge tour of Copenhagen, and I was struck that they are doing a much better job of reutilizing their former industrial waterfronts,” says Gail Sullivan, managing principal at Jamaica Plain’s Studio G Architects. She was part of a delegation of 20 architects, engineers, policy experts and other professional women who traveled to Copenhagen this summer to share knowledge on sustainable development efforts, and she got some great ideas from the Danes. “Copenhagen has used much of the canal frontage for new cultural institutions like the Opera House designed by Henning Larsen Architects. You can see the number of boats, some public and some private, plying the water. They taxi people across the canal regularly.” Sullivan envisions water buses linking points along the Charles River, like Watertown Square, Lechmere and Charles Street, as well as stops in the Harbor, such as East Boston, Aquarium, Rowes Wharf and Fort Point Channel. “This would increase public transportation options, reduce burden on road infrastructure and most importantly reduce wasted commuter time while providing great opportunities to enjoy our metro area from the water.”
Sullivan also imagines a swimming pool in the Charles—a concept the Charles River Conservancy is already pursuing through its Swimmable Charles Initiative—and in the Harbor as well, picturing “a beautiful light structure surrounding and protecting a swimming and sunbathing spot,” much like the Kastrup Sea Bath, an award-winning sculptural structure designed by White Arkitekter. “Water ‘pads’ in the Harbor could provide great opportunities to get engaged with our water, which is the reason Boston was founded here in 1630,” she adds, suggesting that such floating pads could support a cafe, exhibits or a home for house boats. As for the Charles, she’d also like to see a destination restaurant on the river, perhaps near the former Publick Theatre site, and a permanent structure for canoe and kayak access—Copenhagen even has an area dedicated to kayak volleyball.