Visitors to the Christian Science Plaza in Boston will notice some subtle changes to its reflecting pool next spring, but the most dramatic updates are taking place beneath the surface.
A two-year project designed by landscape architects CRJA-IBI Group will increase sustainability and create a more welcoming public space, said James Kros, a CRJA-IBI senior associate.
“It’s a fairly complex system that no one sees at all,” Kros said.
The iconic reflecting pool holds 1.5 million gallons, some of which was leaking into the underground parking garage below. Major reconstruction was needed after 45 years of exposure to Boston’s weather extremes.
The property also needed to comply with updated Boston Water and Sewer Commission requirements to absorb a portion of stormwater on-site rather than draining it into sanitary sewers. CRJA-IBI accomplished that by enlarging the plaza’s lawn and directing water to areas where it can seep into the soil.
Because the reflecting pool water is chlorinated, it has to be filtered before being recirculated on the property. A pair of 43,000- and 15,000-gallon collection bins in the basement of the publishing house building treat a portion of the water for that purpose, with the rest being pumped back into the reflecting pool. The redesign will reduce annual water consumption by up to 3.5 million gallons.
A layer of dark granite pavers replaces the precast concrete pool bottom, sitting above a layer of foam and a pedestal system. The First Church of Christ, Scientist leaders were determined for the redesign to resemble the original pool’s appearance, Kros said, rather than adding new lighting or decorative features.
“When it’s full, the intent is to look very much the same other than the darker granite bottom,” Kros said. “The idea of a reflecting pool is both literal and contemplative. They didn’t want a lot going on in the bottom of the pool.”