Boston Gets A Boa

Can the Dubai real-estate slump be blamed on ambitious projects that tried to recreate mini magical kingdoms? Don’t know, however that’s not stopped the designers from their creative thinking so let’s overview a challenging project that’s aimed for Boston residents. Christened The Boa (Boston Arcology), this floating city isn’t worried about the threat of rising oceans, because it’s equipped with “techniques of today and has been researched to be totally feasible.” Read on to know more…

Highlights of the Boa:

  • It will be capable of housing 15,000 people distributed in hotels, offices, retail, museums, condominiums, and a new city hall.
  • The massing of Boa takes its cue from the built environment of Boston proper and as such exudes a rigorous geometric format. That format is further emphasized by the scaling of the golden rectangle whose proportions are: 1: 1.618.
  • Within this golden rectangle, Boa’s design alignments have a unique relationship with the Boston common.
    What appear to be random projections of massing are actually fashioned as a vertical construct of the “common.” These diagonals are held in check by a fixed border as if a rigid urban edge.
  • Because of its scale, Boa is positioned perpendicular to the waterfront, preserving view corridors and general development massing.
  • Sky gardens will be inserted into the three main towers every 30 floors. These sky gardens provide landscaped glass enclosed atria. In addition to their practical application of additional sunlit units, the “sky gardens” will create a sense of neighborhood presence and support a range of sustainable initiatives.
    Vertical commuting within Boa will be supported by a series of local and express transfer floors.
  • Boa is geared to an all pedestrian environment. Accordingly, only select horizontally based areas will be fitted with moving walkways and/or electric train carriers.
  • Boa is designed to expand the horizon of sustainability and will seek LEED certification.
  • Boa will eliminate the need for cars within the urban structure to create a carbon neutral entity. Some of these elements are secured wind turbines, fresh water recovery and storage systems, passive glazing system, sky garden heating/cooling vents, gray water treatment, solar array banding panels, and harbor based water turbines.
  • A massive park system platform (pedestrian only) will be more than double the current green space allocation for the waterfront of Boston.

Boa is a floating city within a city, and is technically feasible, with the method as follows:

The foundation of Boa is a series of poured concrete cells, which are combined to form a buoyant platform. The grid of these cells serves as the foundation for the rigid steel


  • Though seemingly counter-intuitive, concrete is in fact a viable and durable floating solution. Oil rigs, barges, and even ships from WWII all employed this use of concrete to create buoyant objects. With new self sealing concrete, and other technologies, such structures can be monitored indefinitely.
  • By proportional height, width, length, and weight, this buoyant platform is estimated to 90 feet, with an additional 15 feet of “buffer.” Assuming approximately 30-40 ft current depth in the ocean bed, a “retaining pool” would be sunk into the harbor, giving a waterline to base dimension of 105 feet. This becomes the fixed “pool” in which Boa floats as water seeks its own level.
  • Boa is proposed as a three phase master plan. Though capable of program changes and opportunities, the project is geared to a ten year build-out. Because it is built in the harbor, it will have minimum impact on existing functions. Further, Boa is designed not to encroach on existing channels.

Designer: E. Kevin Schopfer, AIA, RIBA

Renderings: Tangram 3DS

Boa - Boston Arcology Urban Housing by E. Kevin Schopfer, Aia, Riba with Tangram 3DS





  • brack says:

    Looks like some research has been put into this project. How much will it cost to taxpayers of Boston, how much will it cost to federal taxpayers, or will it have it’s own separate government?

  • Lucie says:

    I just find it ugly and heavy.
    It looks like some old building toy.

  • confucius says:

    At first I didn’t like it but the bottom two renderings are super! I still think it looks like a symbol relating to the stock exchange..?

  • Victor Assis says:

    William Gibson’s Count Zero rip off.

  • frezzingaces says:

    hell i just want to slide down the side

  • Barbara says:

    Sort of the culmination of the linear thinking computer era. No curves, warmth, etc. Not much here for people as in human beings. Fun to look at, but not to live or work in, I would think. And completely non-related/unconnected to its neighbor, the city of Boston!

    • Dave says:

      OMG mom followed me here from Facebook. Totally agree with her though. Lived here forevever and talk the ferry across the harbor constantly, that is one sterile structure. Whatever happened to organic forms? The scale is so far off in terms of relating to surroundings/waterfront and all of the junk design that is going up there now, ICA nonwithstanding. Is that what happens when you design on a computer and don’t go to the site and see what fits?

  • Mr Lucky says:

    It’s good to see an architect thinking outside of the “build on land that might eventually be under water due to global warming'” box… now let’s see if social engineers and investors can think outside of that same box as well…

  • trimtab21 says:

    i have been in the ship building industry for 30 years and anything that floats has to be dry docked and maintained below the water line. where in the world is there a dry dock large enough for this?

  • mif991 says:

    I don’t think Bostonians would like this. It does not compare favorably to anything in Dubai either. But go ahead, its for Boston anyway.

  • Victor Assis says:

    I think the designers didn’t think about the automobile flux coming in and out. You would have a permanent traffic jam in the access to this BOA.

  • ranjix says:

    Pure crap. I could say more, but it’s not worth it.

  • Steve D says:

    This is ugly piece of garbage with no human elements is hiding behind the guise of reaching LEED certification and I am scared that people like it. I mean electric moving sidewalks and pedestrian trains are so unnecessary; it called walking, and people have been doing it forever. Lets cut down on the systems or least use them for something more appropriate. The inspiration/ripping-off of Boston landmarks is offensive also. Interpreting the Commons as modern vertical space seems like a stretch for 100 year plan ideas. The John Hancock reflective qualities are unoriginal and far less effective when you remove yourself literally from this historical city, nothing to reflect. The effort to replicate the dynamics of the “Christian Science” reflecting pool are sad.

  • Katie A says:

    I. Am. Horrified.

  • Jim Gaudet says:

    I think it looks great and has some nice concepts. Especially the no cars and the gardens.

  • Steve says:

    I don’t really have any view for or against the design itself. I don’t think it fits sticking way out from the Boston waterfront.
    But actually I don’t think any of this matters.
    You see, when you start on the land and build out in that direction, you are coming close to the airport. And I would assume that a structure of this size would not get permission for an area where planes are trying to land. So basically I don’t see this project getting anywhere, at least not on that location. But that’s just my opinion and could be wrong.

  • Adam says:

    That will never happen in Boston exclusive of any design comments. They’ll never let it get built.

  • Bob H says:

    It looks like the Dos Equis logo.

  • AG says:

    Well, i don’t know it is cool or not, but this is is impressive concept.. and town looks like a toy against the background of this facility

  • John says:

    I realize that a lot of thought had to have gone into this but honestly this design feels incredibly akward and out of place. Even though this is supposed to be an all pedestrian community, the people who would be willing to toss the exorbitant amount of money that it would cost to live here would probably not sacrifice their vehicles, nor would the people who would work/shop here. It’s in a wierd location. Where are visitors supposed to park? Boston? I’m skeptical about saying this is any sort of a good idea.

  • Victor T says:

    Wow, would be so cool if this actually happens!

  • Ryan says:

    Way to big and oddly shaped to be realistic. But it is sort of cool looking.

  • Horrified says:

    This is disgusting. This insensitive design response completely disregards the cultural history and architectural context of Boston and Bostonians themselves. It's always sad to see the Disnification of culture being championed under the banner of modernism.

  • This is a very beautiful building

  • This is a very beautiful building, 3d effect is very good

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