Christian Science Plaza

Boston, MA
Key Elements
  • Rainwater recharge system 
  • Subgrade laser scan 
  • Public engagement & City of Boston permitting 

The revitalization of The First Church of Christ, Scientist plaza, encompassed approximately 10 acres in Boston’s historic Back Bay. The historically significant Christian Science Plaza has protected Landmark status by the Boston Landmarks Commission. The restoration and repair project included substantial re-construction of the Reflecting Pool, expansion of the Massachusetts Avenue lawn, and the goal of rejuvenating the plaza into a very welcoming space for the community to use year-round. 

Nitsch was challenged to increase site sustainability while finding solutions for long-term ineffectual water use and with special care to preserve the plaza’s history. We designed a variety of drainage improvements to address chronic drainage issues on the plaza, as well as a comprehensive stormwater management and rainwater reuse system to align with the Church’s sustainability goals. We uncovered and improved decades-old drainage and plumbing techniques and implemented innovative stormwater management in the improved design of the plaza and Reflecting Pool. 

Solutions included: a new stormwater management system that captures and treats stormwater from the plaza, Reflecting Pool, and rooftops and re-directs the stormwater to a combination of tanks and passive recharge systems; an extensive waterproofing and conservation effort; and a re-design of the entire site to be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and to improve accessibility with restoration of the warped and cracked surfaces with compliant materials and slopes.  

Nitsch collaborated closely with geotechnical engineers, waterproofing consultants, and structural engineers due to the complexity of much of the plaza being over the structured parking deck below. Our land surveyors performed a subgrade laser scan of the garage to create 2D CAD plans and 3D pipe models of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The project required substantial public engagement and permitting through the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Boston Landmarks Commission, and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission. 

The project received an Engineering Excellence 2021 National Recognition Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and an Engineering Excellence 2021 Silver Award from ACEC of Massachusetts. 

Key Collaborators

Owner: The First Church of Christ, Scientist 
Owner’s Project Manager: Redgate 
Landscape Architect: IBI Group 
Waterproofing Specialist: Simpson Gumpertz Heger 
Water Feature Design: DEW, Inc. 
Plumbing Engineer: Jaros, Baum & Bolles 
Water Treatment and Commissioning: GEI Consultants 
Contractor: Consigli