Designed to be one of the most sustainable and resilient commercial spaces in Boston, the Prudential Exchange offers Back Bay Boston a civic space that integrates stormwater and solar collection into a cohesive system that links the interior spaces with the landscape.
Global Design & Architecture Design Awards 2022
Second Award | Public Landscape (Built)
Project Name: The Prudential Center at 888 Boylston Street
Project Category: Public Landscape
Studio Name: Mikyoung Kim Design
Area: United States of America
Year: Completed 2016
Location: 888 Boylston Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Photography Credits: Ted Cavanaugh
The main entry plaza is inspired by the site’s wind patterns and is highlighted with an innovative landscape that includes “wind-swept” carved granite planters and a grove of forty-four color-changing steel light columns, each capped with a sculptural wind vane. Together these light vanes transform this important urban plaza into a living wind diagram. The plaza provides a unique character to the Prudential retail complex, and has quickly become an epicenter for civic events, dining, and public performances. Designed in conjunction with the new LEED Platinum 17-story 888 Boylston Street building, this plaza’s integrated landscape systems utilize clean energy and irrigation water collected on the site’s green roofs, rain gardens, wind turbines and solar panels—setting the stage for the most sustainable office building in New England.
Each of the forty-four light columns are custom fabricated using a single metal strand that wraps around structural rods to create a delicate spiral translucent screen that is densely wound at the base and gradually opens towards the sky. The wind vanes work together with LED lights to transform the plaza into a living wind map. These reflective light poles also assist in wayfinding, ensuring 24-hour lighting to the highly trafficked entrance, and offer unique placemaking potential by engaging visitors with color, movement, and local weather information.
The plaza’s design was driven by intensive wind studies, which showed that among other things, throughout the seasons the most intense forces occur at the edges of the property. At night, color-changing beams of light are reflected off the mirrored wind vanes to create playful light patterns across the ground plane. The landscape is connected back to the sustainable strategies defined in the building design, through complementary color-changing lights which illuminates the wind turbines on top of the 888 Boylston tower. An anemometer installed on the tower roof, provides wind velocity data to the LED fixtures mounted to the base of each light column. The anemometer signals the light fixtures to change color according to the intensity of the wind in a gradient that is defined by NOAA wind data.
Through vibrant programming, this plaza has quickly become an icon for the Back Bay commercial district, from bi-weekly folk concerts to large-scale seasonal celebrations. The Exchange at the Prudential Center Plaza has enhanced the Boylston streetscape with colorful light masts that provide visual interests for visitors passing by, sculptural planter walls that provide copious seating opportunities, and lush planting that both provides shade and softens this urban landscape. Once an underutilized thoroughfare, the new Prudential Center Plaza has improved access to adjacent office, retail and dining establishments and has become a public epicenter for community gathering and civic activity.