The Smith Family Waterfront Park at the Boston Children’s Museum is designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc, to engage children in the programming of the museum and in the life of the city.
Linking the museum’s new front façade and the boardwalk and benches of the public harbor-front walkway that passes in front of the museum, the children’s plaza creates a space of variety and texture meant to engage the mind and the senses.
The development of the park’s program, which supports the larger mission of the museum, is inspired by the recognition that while childhood is a varied and temporary condition in the life of an individual, many of the qualities that best engage the minds and senses of children are universal and permanent.
In recognition of its iconic role in announcing the presence of the museum from a distance, the Hood Milk Bottle Café was placed in new location with better visibility from the street. The 40 foot-tall milk bottle, which has long served as the museum’s most identifiable icon, inspired a series of elements within the plaza that play with perceptions of difference, distance, size, and scale. Every element of the design, from the seating and paving to the unique environments like the marble tailings or the woodland path, is slightly oversized or overstated, to give the small site a bold presence within its seemingly boundless harborfront setting.
In keeping with the museum’s overall mission of active learning, children were involved in the assembly of the planting modules for the green roof.
The Boston Children’s Museum Plaza received a 2008 ASLA Design Honor Award.