Martin's Park

Boston, MA
Key Elements
  • Complex structural engineering design
  • Highly resilient site to handle impacts of sea-level rise 
  • 2020 ACEC/MA Engineering Excellence Award Silver winner

Martin’s Park includes an innovative playground that is accessible to all, a pedestrian bridge, wall-mounted seating along the harbor walk, and a play ship that can be accessed from all sides with sails that can be raised and lowered. The park was built to honor Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombings, by bringing a joyous space for children into the Seaport. Nitsch provided civil and structural engineering services to support the design, permitting, and construction of the park. 

Nitsch’s civil engineering design, permitting, and construction administration work included site utility design, site layout and grading design, stormwater management design, Boston Water and Sewer Commission permitting, and Public Improvement Commission permitting. 

With its location on the Harbor Walk, the park is very sensitive to the realities of sustainability and resilience, particularly as those issues relate to sea-level rise. The design incorporated sustainable and resilient elements that were conscientious of potential flooding, including stormwater management systems and a unique use of geofoam throughout the site designed by the geotechnical engineer.  

Our structural engineers prepared structural design calculations, plans, and special provisions for the pedestrian bridge, the wall-mounted seating, and retaining walls along the harbor walk, as well as the foundation of the play ship. The site provided several challenges for structural design, including mitigating loads on highly compressible soils, interfacing with an existing seawall, designing a flexible seating area on the Harbor Walk that required drilled mini-piles, integrating a bridge within the park, and supporting the iconic playship that is located directly over the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Silver Line tunnel. Through our collaborative design approach, Nitsch provided effective designs that accounted for all of the site constraints.  

This project won a 2020 American Council of Engineering Companies/MA (ACEC/MA) Engineering Excellence Bronze Award.

“Martin’s Park is something that the City hopes to replicate. It is considered the gold standard in adapting the waterfront for climate change.”

Cindy Fitzgibbon, Chief Meteorologist at WCVB, December 22, 2022

Key Collaborators 

Owner: Boston Parks and Recreation Department 
Architect: Michael Van Valkenburg Associates 
Geotechnical Engineer: McPhail Associates, LLC 
Contractor: MacKay Construction