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Porter Square Plaza public art by Toshihiro Katayama

 View photos of the completed Porter Square Design Project.

The Porter Square Design Project improves the safety and function of Porter Square, with an emphasis on use by pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users. Beginning with meetings of the Porter Square Citizen Advisory Committee in 1997, the city worked with the Porter Square Neighborhood Association, residents of Cambridge and Somerville, and the Porter Square businesses to develop a plan for the reconfiguration of Porter Square and its roadway design.

In accordance with the city's Public Art Ordinance, the Cambridge Arts Council commissioned artist Toshihiro Katayama to develop public art for the new plaza as the centerpiece of Porter Square. Katayama worked with landscape architect Cynthia Smith, members of the Porter Square Citizen Advisory Committee, and city staff to develop a bold design for the plaza. The goals of his design were to create a visual identity for the Square, integrate both sides of Massachusetts Avenue, unify the three parts of the plaza visually, and reduce the visual clutter of the busy intersection through simplification and clarity. Natural materials include stonewalls, Cape Ann granite boulders, and new trees and shrubs. Concrete pavers in light and dark grey create a pattern that addresses the entire width of the plaza in one visual sweep. A low steel wall and two free-standing panels continue this pattern with black and white graphics.

Toshihiro Katayama is Professor emeritus at Harvard University, where he taught for 30 years and served as the Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited in more than 30 one-man exhibitions and he has created large-scale sculptures, murals, and environmental work in architectural spaces in the United States and Japan, including major work for the Ohara Art Museum in Kurashiki and the Panasonic Headquarters in Tokyo. In 1974, he collaborated with the poet Octavio Paz on a visual poetry book, Three Notations-Rotations, which was published jointly by Harvard University and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Further information about the streetscape project can be found on the Cambridge Community Development Department's web site: