Engage the Waterfront

Northern Avenue Bridge Competition Sponsored by The Florence H. & Samuel E. Mintz Charitable Trust in partnership with the BAC School of Landscape Architecture

Engage the Waterfront Northern Avenue Bridge Competition

The Northern Avenue Bridge has existed for over a century, long enjoyed by pedestrians and bicyclists navigating between the South Boston Innovation District and downtown Boston. However, in 2014 the bridge was closed due to deterioration and structural issues. Preservation of the bridge has long been debated, with many believing that it is an important remainder of the Fort Point Channel District's industrial heritage. Several plans for the bridge have been explored in recent years, from restoring it to removing it entirely.

ENGAGE THE WATERFRONT is an interdisciplinary competition with the aim of catalyzing Boston's Fort Point Channel district through re-envisioning the North Avenue Bridge. This competition seeks provocative ideas with a realm of feasibility, with the aim of generating dialogue about ways that this historic structure could evolve and find new life. This competition is a special collaborative opportunity to incite dialogue and process about development being proposed for the Hook Lobster site, along with expansion and inclusion of the two adjacent properties, as well as a determination about the future of the Northern Avenue Bridge. These are all important strategic links between the Downtown Financial District - the emerging South Boston Seaport District - and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The Boston Redevelopment Authority is in the process of promoting development guidelines to the State of Massachusetts, focusing on the Wharf District. Ideas generated by this competition will contribute to the forthcoming dialogue and decisions about how best to treat this strategic new development opportunity, as well as Boston's first historic bridge connection between these two vibrant and growing Financial and Seaport Districts.



Date: Friday, April 1
Time: 12–3:30 pm
Location: Fishbowl (First floor conference room, 320 Newbury Street)

All team members are required to attend. Please arrive promptly at 12 pm prepared with your progress work ready to pin up. It is important that all team members be present so that you can all share your ideas and receive feedback.


Competition brief
Site and building extents
Aerial image
CAD file
3D model
Bridge Inspection Reports
Bridge Study Report
Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory Forms

Fort Point Channel 2002 Watersheet Activation Plan
Web Page: Designing Boston: Northern Avenue Bridge

Aerial view of bridge and surroundings

Aerial view of bridge and surroundings


Entries must address multiple considerations. The Boston Redevelopment Authority has significant plans for tall buildings to be erected in the area, including a 300' tower at the Western entrance to the bridge. Entries should consider ways that this development could shape the significance and impact of the bridge as a threshold between neighborhoods.Entries should propose solutions which address the following operating critera:

  • Development of strategies to foster a continuous Harborwalk connection along the Fort Point Channel from Independence Wharf to the Northen Avenue Bridge—an inviting historic piece of infrastructure which invites exclusively pedestrian and bicycle use. Stratgies should create a visual connection of activity between Downtown Financial & South Boston Seaport Districts.
  • Re-knitting the Boston peninsula, fortifying urban programming in the area and adding to its development framework. Stratgies should bring a visual and hydrological connection to the FortPoint Channel/Boston Harbor, providing connectivity and restoring the area's natural ecology.

Refer to the diagram below for a full listing of considerations which should be taken into account:

Buildings could be 400' or possibly more in height, with a lower-height office base and an active ground-level retail base. Building program above the base should be mixed-use including hotel, residential, and possibly office space.

Additionally, the Northern Avenue Bridge accommodates the passage of larger vessels through the Fort Point Channel via a swing bridge mechanism that rotates the bridge 90 degrees on a center axis. Were it to become a stationary fixed bridge structure, it would require a 9' clearance for vessels to navigate through. Any structural changes to the bridge should maintain this clearance.

Minimum bridge clearance

Competition Dates

Monday, Feb 29 Competition launch
Friday, March 11 Entrance deadline and site visit
Friday, April 1 First juried review
Friday, April 29 Second juried review
Friday, June 3 Third juried review

There will also be a site visit and a presentation with Wentworth students. Dates for these two events are forthcoming and will be announced soon.


The jury will be a panel of design professionals, faculty, and community partners connected with the bridge's history and development.


The prizes are as follows:


SECOND PLACE: Two prizes of $1,000, awarded to two teams

Final Deliverables

The final product of each team will be two 24" x 36" boards submitted physically and electronically. Boards should show the team's analysis and final design.

To Enter:

Competition teams must declare their intent to participate in the competition by sending an email to aidan.ackerman@the-bac.edu with a full list of team members, including each team member's degree program. The deadline to enter is Friday, March 11. There will be an information session and a site visit on this day. Check back to this page for time and location as the date nears!

Design extents & bridge/building sites

Design extents and bridge/building sites