BOSTON -- With
the massive Central Artery/Tunnel Project -- known to locals as the
Big Dig -- nearing completion, stately Boston is getting a hip new
look. The engineering project, the largest of its kind in U.S.
history, broke ground in 1991, has cost more than $14 billion and,
during the height of the construction period, created a
less-then-picturesque cityscape dominated in some areas by cranes
The idea behind
the project was to put a major traffic throughway underground and
underwater, easing traffic congestion in the city and reclaiming
about 300 acres of open space, some of which has been earmarked for
parks and other public use.
While the Charles
River Basin and the Wharf District are among the areas benefiting
from improvements, one of the most exciting changes is in the citys
waterfront, which had been obscured from view by traffic before the
project opened the harbor to the rest of the city.
In addition to
its new visibility, the waterfront is in transition mode, thanks to
the debut of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and what
will be a 47-mile public walkway along the waters edge.
The jewel in the
crown will be the new Institute of Contemporary Art, set to open on
Sept. 17 as the first museum to be built in Beantown in nearly a
expect the 65,000-square-foot facility, with its dramatic design
and scenic location, to become one of the most recognized
architectural landmarks in Boston.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro CQ, the ICA will feature a cantilevered
exterior that extends out to the waters edge, with a facade of
glass, metal and wood.
which will be located on the top floor, will total 17,000 square
feet of space, with 16-foot-high ceilings, concrete floors and an
adjustable skylight to maximize natural light.
The Long Gallery
also will have a glass wall facing the harbor, while the fourth
floor will be equipped with a media center housing computers,
documentary facilities and educational materials.
theater and a restaurant managed by Wolfgang Puck are among the
other facility features at the ICA likely to help revitalize the
In all, the new
museum will triple the exhibition space available at the old ICA,
located in Bostons Back Bay, which draws 25,000 to 40,000 visitors
In contrast, the
new facility is expected to bring in 200,000 visitors in its first
year alone, according to Paul Bessire, ICA external affairs
completion of the Big Dig, there is a shift toward downtown, and we
are looking to be a leader in giving people access to the harbor
and the Harbor Islands, Bessire said.
The location of
the ICA also takes advantage of the massive clean-up of Boston
Harbor, a joint effort by the state, city and national governments,
To highlight the
Harbor Islands, which few tourists know about and where even fewer
venture, the ICA will commission artists to create works that
showcase the islands as natural and cultural resources.
Also on tap is
the transformation of the museum from a sole emphasis on visual
arts into a multidisciplinary facility with performing arts, dance
The new harbor
walkway will intersect with the museum, and outdoor performances,
including music and film, will be a regular feature in the warmer
We were selected
for this site by the Boston 2000 Commission to be a magnet to bring
vitality to the area through cultural programming, said Bessire,
adding that the ICA is already working with hotels to create museum
packages for this fall.
Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, connected to the Boston Convention
and Exhibition Center, is set to open in July. Also scheduled to
debut in the waterfront district in 2006 is the $330 million,
21-story InterContinental Boston, slated to have 424 guest rooms
and 130 condos.
Officials at the
ICA also hope to attract cruise passengers, given the proximity of
the citys cruise ship terminal and the new Silver Line public
transportation route that connects the previously marooned dock
area with the rest of the city.
collaboration is on the way, as well.
Thanks to the Big
Dig, its very easy to get to the waterfront now, and well be
working with the Childrens Museum and the New England Aquarium to
bring people down here, Bessire said.
information on the ICA, visit www.icaboston.org. For more on Boston, call the
Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau at (888) SEE-BOSTON
or (888) 733-2678 or visit www.bostonusa.com.
reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].