First Chair

Submitted by Jacob Kulin

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Client: Symphony Community Park

Location: Boston, MA, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $250,000

Project Team

Artist

Jacob Kulin

Kulin Modern

Landscape Architect

Jon Pate

Pate Landscape Architecture

Client

Marie Fukuda

Friends of Symphony Community Park

Public Art Agent

Karin Goodfellow

Boston Art Commission

Overview

Symphony Park’s collaborative redesign and featured sculpture made of Corten steel, stainless steel, bronze and granite (16’ft high x 10”ft diameter) is a result of creative dialogue and teamwork at the intersection of art, landscape design, and community – a unique approach resulting in a park that establishes its role in the new Fenway Cultural District. Using cutting edge technology, artist Jacob Kulin has developed sculpture for a park that reflects not only musical themes and community inspiration, but anchors a city park with a statement reflective of its name, users, and location.

Goals

Symphony Park was built to provide needed open space for the new residences and institutions growing up around it. The Park has become a cherished respite for the many hundred nearby residents for whom this is their primary—or only—open space. The park is equally enjoyed by young artists from Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory, and the residents, workers and visitors to this vibrant East Fenway neighborhood.

We started with our conviction that park users would serve as an inspired and valuable source for design. We held public meetings to determine community preferences and inspiration for art. The selected artist, Jacob Kulin, best captured the community’s vision for a sculpture that reflected the park design, its name, and created a sense of place that gave the community an identity befitting its cultural and historic heritage. Through project team meetings between the artist and architect we honored and agreed with the owner and the Art Commission’s view that landscape should be sympathetic to and complement a site-specific work of art.

Process

Working with the Parks Department, immediate hazard mitigation was performed, with additional funding contributed by the Friends for improvements to park plantings and seating areas. The Friends, who had been acting as caretakers for the park for several decades, worked with the owner and the community to seek comprehensive improvements for the park and its users.

By obtaining a grant from COG Design (a non-profit that matches community groups with landscape architecture services) and working with the belief that community-based, ground-up visioning would yield a park that best served its users and reflected their needs, hopes, and dreams, we worked through a process that included public meetings, led by the City and pro bono landscape architects.

Despite its nearby parks system, the Fenway is one of the densest neighborhoods in the city of Boston, with just 3.5 acres of open space per 1,000 residents, compared to a citywide ratio of 5.5 acres. Jacob Kulin’s piece has yielded an artwork that provokes inspiration and contemplation, a vital element to this newly improved park.

Additional Information

The park and its featured sculpture are a product of a community’s work—one that will benefit the Fenway neighborhood, its park users, and all who visit Symphony Community Park.