Spring Spruce Up Brings Flowers, Street Furniture and Banners

The bold splashes of color throughout the LMA -- daffodils, tulips, rhododendrons and blooming trees -- are a welcome harbinger of warm weather and the graduation season. These blossoms are not just a happy coincidence, but rather the result of a 30-year vision to make the area more welcoming for patients, employees, students and visitors.

A Vision Blooms
Before the internet, DVDs, or cell phones, MASCO’s area planning department developed an area-wide open space plan that mapped out opportunities for mini-parks, pedestrian malls, and small pockets of land that could be turned green with bright splashes of color, become locations for benches for pedestrians and avenues that could be shaded by graceful trees to improve the pedestrian environment and strengthen green connections to the nearby Emerald Necklace Parks. Working with members and John Kissida, a landscape architect at Camp, Dresser and McKee, a palette of plants was developed that adds seasonal interest and thrives in the area with low maintenance. The consistency in the landscaping gives the LMA the sense of one campus. Plot-by-plot and flower bed-by-flower bed, the area has been transformed.

Kissida’s work graces the edges of campuses and can be seen in the trees that line Brookline and Longwood avenues, at the intersection of Longwood and Avenue Louis Pasteur (the design of Oscar Tugo Circle), on Shattuck Street and along The Fenway and The Riverway. Most recently, he’s worked with MASCO and the Parks Department to restore Evan’s Way Park with 33 new trees, flowers and improvements to the park and a nearby pedestrian island. He also assisted MASCO in the planting of London Plane and Honey Locust replacement trees as well as developing a tree maintenance program along Huntington Avenue between Ruggles Street and Brigham Circle -- part of Mayor Menino’s plan to transform the regional thruway into a scenic Avenue of the Arts.

“In the LMA, any place there is flowering tree, shrub or bulb in the public realm, between members’ campuses, MASCO probably had something to do with it,” Kissida says. “Their vision of creating a more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly environment has made the area more pleasant for everyone and instilled the importance of landscape in the area’s institutions.”

Pedestrian Amenities
The vision is not limited to plants. The area planning department designed the placement of benches, waste bins, and other amenities. MASCO’s operations department oversees maintenance -- caring for 70 benches and 50 waste receptacles. Each bench and bin is refurbished every two years – cleaned, sanded, stained and varnished. The benches provide welcome respite for employees, students, and visitors and make the area more comfortable and pedestrian-friendly.

Banners that Brighten
The bold and colorful banners throughout the LMA announce Red Sox opening day, college graduations, and other significant events. MASCO leases the space on utility poles, area planning staff work with members to develop site plans and expedite review and approval and operations staff coordinate scheduling, placement and oversee installation.

So when you’re in the LMA, take a moment to sit on a bench and enjoy the flowers and other greenery! For more information about public open space improvements in the LMA, contact Jan Henderson at jan.henderson@masco.harvard.edu or 617-632-2762.