The Hydroelectric Canal, Boston, MA, United States
Paul Lukez Architecture


We propose to harness clean energy through hydropower generation from tidal changes and storm surges in low-lying urban areas, as a means of shaping economically and environmentally resilient, self-sustaining communities. Our proposal offers an array of integrated landscaping, ecological restoration, urban development and financing strategies for achieving this goal. The latter include public-private partnerships for creating a new energy-producing, amenity-laden infrastructure that reduces risk to communities and investors.

Historical Background

Our proposal draws from a hydropower generation method from the 1640s: Boston’s Mill Creek connected a northern tidal basin (Mill Pond) with the southern harbor (Town Cove), harnessing tidal changes to power strategically located gristmills at the creek’s ends. This historic fusion of landscape and infrastructure energized Boston’s new economy and community.

Core Concept

Some 400 years later, we propose cutting a channel through Columbia Point to connect the northern Old Harbor with the southern Savin Hill Cove. The new Morrissey Channel would capture rising sea levels and tidal changes and embrace the ebb and flow of natural water currents to generate hydroelectric energy through advanced turbine technologies, which would power communities and build lively public spaces. This ecologically sustainable urban model would assume a new form of resilient urbanism that generates an amenity-rich landscape, restored ecology, and an economically viable, self-sustaining community.

Design Process

We assembled a team of landscape architects, ecologists, engineers, venture capitalists, economists, cost estimators, and leading entrepreneurs and scientists advancing turbine technologies for river and ocean applications. Our three months of iterative design exploration included identification of market-ready turbines amenable to Columbia Point’s ecology and landscape.

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