The Boston Harbor Islands might be one of the city’s best-​​kept secrets. But that has started to change, thanks to a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity archi­tec­ture pro­fessor, whose design of a new pavilion on the Rose Kennedy Greenway has begun drawing Bosto­nians and flocks of tourists to the 34-​​island national park.

Tim Love, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the School of Archi­tec­ture and the founding prin­cipal at Boston firm Utile, led the design of the new struc­ture, which opened this year to acclaim and has already led to an uptick in vis­i­tors to the Harbor Islands.

Every­body agreed that the Boston Harbor Islands are an incred­ible resource, but very few Bosto­nians or tourists know that they’re only a 15-​​minute boat ride away,” Love said.

The pavilion, the first per­ma­nent struc­ture built on the Greenway in down­town Boston, fea­tures inter­ac­tive dis­plays, maps and knowl­edge­able park rangers. From there, vis­i­tors can pur­chase tickets to Spec­tacle and Georges islands, which serve as hubs to other des­ti­na­tions in the Boston Harbor Islands and are only about a 20-​​minute ferry ride from Long Wharf.

The pavilion, a good example of public archi­tec­ture, Love said, serves as a nexus to con­nect vis­i­tors to places such as Christo­pher Columbus Park, Quincy Market and the North End.

Love called the pavilion a “dream project” that aligns with the archi­tec­ture school’s mis­sion. “We believe in our depart­ment that teaching design starts with a con­cep­tion of the cul­ture of a city as a cul­tural ques­tion and an anthro­po­log­ical ques­tion, and that’s why this project is so close to what I do in the class­room,” he said.

In 2009, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano lob­bied for a $5 mil­lion fed­eral appro­pri­a­tion to finance con­struc­tion of the pavilion, which opened on Memo­rial Day weekend.

From the project’s incep­tion, designers spent a great deal of time exploring and redis­cov­ering the Boston Harbor Islands from the per­spec­tive of a first-​​time visitor.

The design team that worked to put that pavilion together didn’t start with a sketch of a building,” said Bruce Jacobson, super­in­ten­dent of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recre­ation Area. “In this case, they went out on a boat and vis­ited the islands.”

The pavilion was intended to elim­i­nate the “out of sight, out of mind” problem facing the islands, said Tom Powers, pres­i­dent of the Boston Harbor Island Alliance.

The number of people who are going out and vis­iting the islands is steadily increasing every year, but we’ve long known that you really need a land­side gateway to get people to know what’s out there,” he said.