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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Entrance Improvement Project

A conceptual drawing of possible improvements at Arborway Gate entrance Michal Van Valkenburgh Associates, 2023
Image of a conceptual rendering of possible improvements at Arborway Gate entrance

The Arboretum’s Entrance Improvement Project seeks to renew and improve the Arboretum’s many entrances to provide a safe, accessible, and welcoming experience for all visitors. To accomplish this, we will work with a leading, Massachusetts-based landscape design firm—Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates—to understand the history and current conditions of five key entrances:

  • Arborway Gate
  • Beech Path Gate (also called 383 South Street Gate)
  • Poplar Gate
  • Walter Street Gate
  • Washington Street Gate (adjacent to the Forest Hills subway station and bus terminal)

These five entrances, which comprise Phase 1 of the overall project, meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • They directly serve Environmental Justice Populations;
  • They provide Arboretum Access for adjacent public health institutions;
  • They align with concurrent City and State infrastructure projects along the Arboretum’s perimeter.

Through 2022-2023, the Arboretum will work with our design team—which includes Landscape and Olmsted historian Ethan Carr—to gather input from the community and multiple city and state agencies. Collaboration with stakeholders including the Boston Parks Department and Historic Landmarks Commission will inform the development of design plans to renovate Phase I entrances.

The realization of these aspirations will require significant help from our community—we seek to raise $7.5M in private funding to renew these portals between the Arboretum’s historical landscape and Boston neighborhoods. The Entrance Improvement Project is part of our sesquicentennial vision to renew our founding public promise for equity in the landscape and improved engagement with the public.

Project Goals

During the design process, the Entrance Improvement Project seeks to achieve the following goals:

  1. Improve ADA-accessibility, pedestrian safety, and bicycle access;
  2. Enhance entryway plantings and expand planting areas;
  3. Reduce paved, impervious surfaces;
  4. Renew and restore historic entranceway infrastructure, including walls and gates;
  5. Protect and enhance view sheds into and out of the Arboretum;
  6. Improve way finding and interpretive signage.

We anticipate construction of Phase I renovations beginning in 2024. Once complete, Phase I will greatly improve accessibility, landscape design, and visitor amenities at five important entrances.

Phase 1 Entrance Concepts

Click on the links below to learn more about goals for each Phase I entrance and view concepts for each:


  • In 2021, the Arboretum worked with Reed Hildebrand Associates to assess 16 existing Arboretum entrances around our perimeter.
  • In spring of 2022, the Arboretum partnered with Practice Landscape to develop a Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals. We assessed submissions from eight leading landscape architecture firms before selecting and awarding the project to Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • In October of 2022, we kicked off the conceptual design process for Phase 1 entrances.
  • January 21st 2023, Phase 1 conceptual design presentation and open house at Weld Hill Research Building.

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For more information about the Entrance Improvement Project, contact:

Danny Schissler
Head of Operations and Project Management
Arnold Arboretum