Exterior view of As If It Were Already Here; Exterior view of As If It Were Already Here;

As If It Were Already Here, Boston, MA

Arup was the lead engineering designer for the Janet Echelman sculpture

Arup served as the lead engineering designer for a half acre fibre net sculpture named “As If It Were Already Here” designed by artist Janet Echelman of Studio Echelman. The sculpture was installed 365ft above Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway and spans up to 600ft between three high-rise buildings. Commissioned by the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, Echelman’s sculpture for Boston is an original design inspired by the transformation of the City’s waterfront following the Big Dig and the creation of the mile-and-a-half-long Greenway.

A true team effort, Arup worked closely with Studio Echelman, Autodesk, and Shawmut Design and Construction to realise the artist’s vision of reconnecting the city over the Greenway. Arup’s primary role was to create the geometric and structural design for the pre-stressed rope network that supports and forms an integral part of the sculpture. We developed custom in-house software which implements an “adaptive form-finding” algorithm to optimise the geometry and structure of the sculpture. The form-finding was part of an overall digital work-flow from concept through fabrication.


The sculpture includes more than 100mi of polyester twine and over half a million knots. The pre-stressed rope network was constructed of hand-spliced ropes braided from Honeywell Spectra® fibres that are, pound-for-pound, eight times stronger than steel cable. The longest span measures 600ft and the project plan area of the sculpture is almost half an acre.

Arup’s lighting design solution enabled the artist’s vision of the sculpture to be realised in the night time environment through careful coordination of lighting equipment that blends seamlessly within the urban fabric. The sculpture will be illuminated by 44 individually programmed LED lights.