John F. Kennedy Park - Cambridge

JFKPark_feature_CharlesBirnbaum_2006.jpg
Cambridge, MA
United States
John F. Kennedy Park - Cambridge

Landscape Information

In 1976 this five-acre site, located on Memorial Drive along the Charles River and formerly populated by car barns, was chosen as the location for the state of Massachusetts’ monument honoring President John F. Kennedy. Boston’s Metropolitan District Commission selected the landscape architecture firm Carol R. Johnson Associates to realize the park’s design.  A citizens committee, which included Caroline Kennedy, supervised the project. The firm, directed by project manager Jennifer Jones, used infill to tilt the park’s lawn south to integrate it with the Charles River Reservation. Polluted soil was buried underground and capped.  The landscape’s focal point is a raised, terraced platform that fronts a sunken square bordered by low stone retaining walls with built in benches. At its center is a granite memorial fountain, designed by John Gustafson, where a laminar flow of water runs over engraved quotations by Kennedy (selected by the Kennedy family). The memorial is placed on axis with a tree allée of honey locusts that connects to Harvard Square. The park’s major east-west walkway is aligned with Harvard’s Gore Hall, the residence hall in which Kennedy lived as a student.  The sidewalk was also diverted towards the memorial  to preserve the park’s sycamore trees that also visually connected the space with those along the Charles River Reservation. The park entrances are marked by stone pillars that, like the fountain, are engraved with quotes by Kennedy.