News

Matthew Littell contributes to ArchitectureBoston’s latest issue

ArchitectureBoston’s recent issue, “Getting to Yes,” focuses on the Imagine Boston comprehensive plan’s targeted 53,000 new units of much-needed housing by 2030. Utile Principal Matthew Littell’s contributed article, “New family frames”, highlights the role of Accessory Dwelling Units (also known as “granny flats” or “in-law” apartments) in addressing the city’s housing crisis. Loosening the existing, antiquated restrictions on ADUs will create additional residential options, alleviating the reliance on new development to solve the housing deficit. Matthew writes, “Allowing homeowners more freedom to adapt their existing homes to changing needs can promote long-term occupancy and neighborhood stability.” You can read the full article here.

Construction continues at Utile and ACDC’s 88 Hudson St. in Boston

Utile, working with the non-profit Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), is currently constructing 51 units of affordable housing at 88 Hudson St. in Boston, also known as Parcel 24 South. The six-story building includes a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominiums for working families earning 60 – 100% of the area median income. A new major public open space will be located on the north side of the building, with an intimate private green space to the south. This project is part of ACDC’s effort to increase the number of affordable housing units in Chinatown on land reclaimed from the Central Artery Big Dig. You can read more about this project at Banker & Tradesman.

Utile Case Study: Designing for the Public Sector

Proactive Practices has published a series of case studies as part of a three-year research project exploring how firms and nonprofits have built financially sustainable public interest design practices. The studies, produced by the Proactive Practices Research Collaborative and funded by the National Endowment of the Arts and PennDesign, describe in detail the business models, strategies, and “secret sauce” of ten selected firms to showcase what it takes to run a public interest design practice.

Utile: Designing for the Public Sector (Case Study No. 1) highlights Utile’s think tank approach and initial hyper-local focus to become a trusted expert for Boston public-sector clients, eventually expanding our focus to larger-scale and more complex public-realm projects. The study goes into detail about the founding philosophies of the firm, urban design proposals and projects that paved the way for future work, and specific projects that the firm has completed for the public sector.

Tim Love serves on AIA Portland Design Awards jury

Tim Love was one of three Boston-based architects selected to serve on the AIA Portland (Oregon) 2016 Architecture Awards jury, along with Beth Whittaker of Merge Architects and Marianna Ibañez of Ibañez Kim. The jury was held at the Boston Society of Architects in October. After making their choices, the jurors traveled to Portland in late November to announce the awards and provide commentary at the very Portlandia awards gala. Tim and his colleagues presented from a sofa and chairs and were backed up by Ural Thomas & the Pain, a highly energetic and talented local R&B group.

 

Weston approves Town Center Master Plan

The residents of Weston voted last week to approve funds for the improvements outlined in the Town Center Master Plan, created by Utile. The Plan will improve the appearance and safety of the Town Center by creating more continuous and ample sidewalks, safer crosswalks, and open space, thereby linking the historic Town Green to Weston’s commercial heart. You can read more about the vote here, and see details from the plan at www.westontowncenter.org.

 

Utile tours Assembly Row

Last Thursday, the City of Somerville Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development generously agreed to give Utile staff a walking tour of the mixed-use Assembly Row development in Somerville. George Proakis, the Director of Planning, presented the history, planning, and development of the 56-acre mixed-use district. Home to Partners HealthCare’s new massive corporate office complex, Assembly Row is one of the largest development projects in Massachusetts, and continues to grow with additional housing, retail, and hotel construction. The group concluded the tour at the American Fresh Brewhouse Beer Garden to enjoy some local craft Slumbrew beer.

Union Square Neighborhood Plan wins 2016 CNU-NE Urbanism Award

Union Square Team

Utile and Principle Group’s Union Square Neighborhood Plan was Awarded the CNU New England Urbanism Award for 2016, a program that celebrates “outstanding design, development, and policy achievements in New England.” The year-long project, completed for the City of Somerville, underwent an extensive community outreach and planning process to help frame the future growth of Union Square, from the public realm design to large scale development opportunities in the adjacent industrial district, Boynton Yards. The “Somerville by Design” planning process involved 14 public meetings, ranging from crowdsourcing events to multiday design charrettes, with a targeted focus on community consensus.

The resulting Union Square Neighborhood Plan, adopted in May 2016, establishes a vision for how to create 6.8 million square feet of new development, the creation of 12.32 acres of new public space, and 2,349 new mixed income housing units.

 

City of Boston releases draft of Imagine Boston 2030 Strategic Plan

Imagine Boston 2030 Cover

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh writes in his introduction to the Imagine Boston 2030 Draft Strategic Plan, “You hold in your hands a vision for Boston in the year 2030. The vision was shaped by over 12,000 Boston voices, when residents came together to decide the type of city we want to live in.” HR&A and Utile are serving as lead consultants for the City of Boston’s first citywide plan in more than 50 years to develop a cohesive vision addressing growth, social justice, and climate change. The draft strategic plan identifies a spatial framework for guiding Boston’s growth, which was shaped by extensive public input gathered through both traditional and innovative public engagement approaches over the past year.

Boston Globe reporter Tim Logan writes about the real estate development implications of the Imagine Boston 2030 plan in “Walsh plan targets corners of Boston for development”, including the need for new construction to stretch farther into less centralized and underdeveloped locations of the City.

Boston celebrates an illuminated City Hall

City Hall Lighting

At last night’s Boston City Hall lighting celebration, Mayor Walsh told a lively crowd, “I am proud that for the first time in its 48 year history, Boston City Hall is going to shine.” The event celebrated Utile and Lam Partners’ permanent exterior lighting installation, painstakingly designed over the last 15 months to enliven the building and surrounding plaza, enhance the iconic building’s original brutalist form, and increase public safety, all the while concealing the fixtures by integrating them into the building’s architecture. The wide-ranging color schemes projected by the high-efficiency LED fixtures allow the building to communicate back to the people of Boston through the language of light, and represents the first step in making City Hall Plaza the welcoming, loved, civic heart of the city.

The City of Providence unveils proposed redesign of the 6-10 Highway Connector

Working with the City of Providence, Utile and Nelson\Nygaard are helping to reimagine the deteriorating urban interchange and highway known as the 6-10 Connector, which runs between the Olneyville neighborhood and downtown Providence. The City/Utile team has proposed an elevated rotary, dubbed the “halo”, and other strategies to slim the highway’s footprint and rationalize connections to and from surrounding neighborhoods. The new design’s aim is to increase the amount of developable land, reconnect isolated neighborhoods, untangle traffic snarls, and improve connections for walking, biking, and transit.

Last week’s well-attended Providence Department of Planning and Development community forum informed residents, local business owners, and other stakeholders about the project team’s new design. Reporter Patrick Anderson covers the event in his piece, “Providence floats slimmed-down plan for 6-10 connector” for The Providence Journal.

 

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