Our competition proposal is organized around a new topography (a raised ground plane) that re-establishes the relationship that Massachusetts General Hospital once had with the Charles River and the larger public realm of Boston. By linking this new topography at the same level as the elevated MBTA platforms, a monumental and generous connection is provided for the first time between mass transit and the Charles River Embankment. In addition, by privileging the new raised ground plane as the most important public level within the boundaries of the MGH/Jail block, the concourse level (second level) that bridges between the proposed and future additions to the hospital complex can have a direct relationship to the public realm, effectively urbanizing the hospital as a building type.
The approach also provides a symbolic narrative for the expansion of the hospital. In the nineteenth century, Frederick Law Olmstead argued for urban parks as both social condensers and for their curative powers. Our scheme reconnects MGH to this network of open space — a position it occupied in the nineteenth century, before it was cut off by Storrow Drive.
In addition to creating important new urban connections, the concept of the new topography also improves the quality of the enclosed, concourse-level connections that will be necessary to link the new buildings of the first phase building program (over Fruit Street). If the terraced park resolves itself with this internal upper level circulation, then patients and visitors will be able to directly access exterior public space on the west side of the proposed ambulatory care facilities.
The proposed ambulatory care facilities benefit from the range of connections that are possible to outdoor urban spaces because of the concept of the “new topography” (see above). The project has been designed so that the lobby and amenities of the hotel are an easy connection from the public floor of the ambulatory care facilities. The proposed Atrium has been designed as an intermediate public space could both serve as a shared amenity and a buffer between the activities on the concourse level of the hospital and the greater public realm.
The design provides for large floor plates on floors 1-3 and then resolves into three separate towers to maximize the amount of natural light (given the preferred suite size) and to make elegant additions to the skyline.