Alexandra Lee will get a unique opportunity to expand famed landscape architect Hideo Sasaki’s legacy.
Sasaki, the designer whose firm helped reshape Copley Square and numerous other iconic outdoor spaces, died in 2000. But his mission continues, thanks to the Hideo Sasaki Foundation. Until now, the foundation has primarily been focused on supporting research programs with grants. Lee, who started this month as the foundation’s first executive director, has been charged with broadening its mission.
The foundation is based at Sasaki Associates, the Watertown architectural firm whose roots date back to a company that Hideo Sasaki launched in 1953. Lee will be in charge of the Sasaki Incubator, a 5,000-square-foot coworking space that is nearing completion at the Sasaki campus. There, she’ll bring together students and startups to work with Sasaki designers and others in the field, to solve what the firm calls “collective problems” in architecture. Her task now is to find the right collaborators to bring on board.
Lee comes to Sasaki from the Kendall Square Association, where she was the executive director for nearly five years. “The energy I’ve discovered in my first week at Sasaki is very vibrant and exciting,” Lee says.
Face lift for a garden on the Greenway
A highly visible North End garden along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway will soon get a face lift, thanks to a $1.4 million donation from the Lynch Foundation.
The Greenway Conservancy’sfinance committee voted Monday to hire a landscape architect to help with renovating the roughly 13,000-square-foot boxwood garden. Next to spray fountains, it opened a decade ago, following the Big Dig’s completion. The goal is to start and finish the work next year. The foundation’s gift will be roughly split between construction costs and an endowment for future maintenance of the garden.
“This is a garden that was going downhill for a number of years,” says Jesse Brackenbury, the Greenway Conservancy’s executive director. “Instead of a rundown garden, they’ll see a spectacular new garden.”
The gift from the foundation, which was started by Carolyn Lynch and Fidelity Investments’ Peter Lynch nearly three decades ago, represents the Greenway’s third-largest single private gift, after a $1.5 million donation from Tiffany & Co. for the Greenway’s carousel and an anonymous gift of nearly $2 million, Brackenbury says.
Carolyn Lynch, who died in 2015, was an avid gardener.
Brackenbury says the Greenway will incorporate ideas from her home garden in Marblehead and her garden in Ireland. Her name will be represented at the Greenway garden, as well, although Brackenbury says the details of the naming elements haven’t been worked out yet.
“It will be tastefully done and discrete,” Brackenbury says, “while also recognizing the contribution they’re making.”
A big name in law joins zoning dispute
The neighbors who are at war with the redeveloper of the former Middlesex County courthouse in East Cambridge have just received some help from a big name in constitutional law.
Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe helped write a brief that the courthouse’s neighbors submitted to the Supreme Judicial Court earlier this month, asking the state’s highest court to reconsider its decision not to overturn an Appeals Court ruling in favor of the developer, Leggat McCall Properties.
Essentially, the battle revolves around whether government immunity to local zoning rules should continue after a property moves into private ownership.
The 280-foot courthouse tower stands like a concrete fortress over the neighborhood, easily eight times taller than most of the residential buildings around it. Leggat McCall wants to bring the building back to life, mostly with offices, but also with some residential units and retail spaces. The plaintiffs want a project that complies with the zoning, which limits buildings there to 80 feet.
Plaintiff Michael Hawley says he mentioned the case to Tribe, a friend. Tribe, it turned out, shared his concerns about the long-term zoning implications.
“I sort of felt like Luke Skywalker, when Yoda picks up the light saber,” Hawley says. “It was very validating to have Larry say, ‘You’re right, you’ve been right all along.’ ”