The electric energy was palpable. Drinks in hand, the viewing party’s attendees cheered as the Patriots pummeled the Minnesota Vikings last weekend, said Katie Hauser, director of communications at The Lawn on D and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. Unlike the number of parties taking place across homes and bars in New England, however, this party boasted over 700 attendees and was located in quite the venue.
The Lawn on D is not your average sports bar. Although it is one of the only open park spaces of its kind with a liquor license, the bar, which is open Thursday through Sunday, is only one facet of this multipurpose area.
The Lawn is a 2.7-acre outdoor event space on D street, near the South Station T stop. As an extension of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, The Lawn hosts a great deal of diverse private events. “Most recently, Hubspot has been hosting their annual events including food trucks at lunch, boot camp sessions, and an evening reception,” Hauser said. Given that The Lawn is an outdoor venue, adjustments often have to be made.
“One time we had an event that required signs on easels on a windy day,” she said. “That sort of thing requires a lot of thinking on our feet.”
While The Lawn does act as an extension of the Convention and Exhibition Center by hosting private events, most of its events and activities are open to the public. “We wanted a family-friendly space that could also serve as an adult playground,” Hauser said. “The Lawn offers public seating, lounge chairs, and Wi-Fi for those looking to relax and lawn games such as corn hole, boccee, Frisbee, Ping-Pong, and KanJam for those looking to have fun.”
Currently, The Lawn is gearing many programs toward millennials, and thus, college students. Most recently, The Lawn hosted an EDM concert series, and this week, it will be hosting another event called “Make Music Boston,” during which local musicians will be performing.
Besides showcasing musicians, “The Lawn also seeks to feature local artists through a rotating art series,” Houser said. Currently, The Lawn is featuring a piece called “Swing Time.” Swing Time consists of 20 glowing oval swings of three different sizes. The swings are LED lit and when sitting statically, emit a warm white light. When a curious lawn-goer sits and begins to swing to and fro, however, the swing reacts to the touch and begins emitting colored light. The color, varying from blues to purples to pinks becomes richer and deeper the more the person swings.
“When looking for artwork to display on The Lawn, we wanted art that was not static and something to just be looked at,” Hauser said. “We wanted our art pieces to bring out the imaginations of our visitors and encourage them to interact with art in a unique way, in a way they hadn’t thought to before … Swing Time encapsulates the overall vision of the space. When we saw it, we knew it was perfect.”
The vision Houser mentions is that of Executive Director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority James (“Jim”) Rooney. “Jim was raised in the Boston area and takes a great deal of pride in that,” Hauser said. “He sees the Convention and Exhibition Center as a part of the neighborhood and wants to integrate the Convention Center into the urban fabric of the area.” Thus, The Lawn was created to serve as a place where art, music, games, and community programs can all take place while also functioning as a place to gather for a bite to eat, a drink, or even a football game. “We’re in the innovation district,” she said. “We wanted to do something innovative and engaging in the community.”
The Lawn is putting a great deal of focus on the “engagement” aspect of its marketing. The Lawn maintains active Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and frequently updates its website with schedule updates and events. “As an experimental event space, we want to hear from people in the community,” Hauser said. “We have a place on our website where visitors can give feedback and suggest events they want to go to on The Lawn.”
The results of the feedback so far have been extremely positive, Hauser said. “We have honestly been surprised by how much attention The Lawn has gotten—we didn’t realize how successful it would be,” she said. “We love looking through The Lawn hashtags and seeing what a great time people are having.”
Featured Image Courtesy of The Lawn on D
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled Katie Hauser’s last name.