Location: Natick, MA, USA
Client: General Growth Properties
Size: 17 hectares
Status: Completed 2007
The landscape of the Natick mall is designed to establish a visible identity for the mall as a whole and to provide a rich and varied landscape at a pedestrian scale. Numerous plantings soften the experience and transform the entrance into a public space with strong visual connections to the community and the outlying roads. A series of low stone walls reminiscent of the New England countryside highlights the major entrance to the mall. The datum of walls remains at a constant height, highlighting the rolling grades of the ground plane. Lighting fixtures are embedded within the stone walls, illuminating their forms at night.
The design of the rotunda, a circular interchange punctuated by an arcing pattern of low stone walls and birch trees, radiates outward to connect the surrounding edges and two plateau-like areas for rest and exchange. Running around the perimeter of the mall landscape is a waving ribbon of ornamental grasses. On the Speen Street side this ribbon is flanked by a bicycle and pedestrian path. A dynamic planting scheme of broadleaf deciduous trees and evergreens hugs the perimeter of the parking lots, giving warmth and green views from all directions.
Birch trees, with their distinctive bark and beautiful leaves spill out beyond the tight planting band and increase in density at the mall entrances. The concept of the birch forest moves to the interior of the Mall in abstracted form. A series of birch tree trunks, of both artificial material and preserved wood, inhabit the entry landscape and pedestrian corridors. While the trunks stand disembodied, a dense cascade of abstracted birch leaves hangs from above. Made of anodized aluminum, the birch leaves range from the yellow-green color of spring to shades of the yellow-orange fall spectrum. Sunlight filtering through skylights above will dance off the cascading leaves and flicker through the Mall corridor.