Joshua Simoneau enters Northern Avenue Bridge ideas competition

Channel Some FunThe City of Boston and the Boston Society of Architects have announced the winners of its Northern Avenue Bridge Ideas Competition. While not among the selected entries, Utile architect and urban planner Joshua Simoneau and Northeastern University Adjunct Professor Michael Grogan’s proposal “Channel Some Fun!” gives space to the imagination and considers how play might disrupt and juxtapose layers of public life in order to facilitate social interaction.

When asked about his design inspiration, Josh says, “There seems to be a remarkable similarity among many of the public spaces designed today, from the materials used to the programmatic arrangements, often resulting in corporate landscapes that are nothing more than normalized spaces for consumption. This vision for the Northern Avenue Bridge, however, is a refreshing reminder that public spaces can be different, better, and most of all, fun! While the concept of play may seem like frivolous response, it can be a great equalizer when it comes to the public realm; addressing concepts of civic pride and social justice, not to mention beauty and happiness. Most of all, Channel Some Fun! creates a stage for public life where people not only feel like they are part of the city, but that the city is part of them.”

Utile is proud of the thoughtful concept and engaging design submitted by Josh and Michael for this competition, and we hope to see their ideas incorporated into future planning for the Northern Avenue Bridge.

A New Brick Façade for the JP Library

Masonry work continues at the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library with the installation of brick and limestone on the exterior façade. This photo shows the contemporary spin on traditional Boston brick, a small part of how the branch library is being reinvented into a vital 21st Century institution.



Meet Joshua Simoneau, Kyle Belcher, and Paul Miller

new faces_may 2016

Team Utile has expanded with the addition of three talented new hires– Joshua  Simoneau, Kyle Belcher, and Paul Miller.

Josh comes to Utile with experience both as an architect and urban planner. Passionate about cities with a particular interest in public spaces, Josh currently serves as a member of the Rotch Traveling Scholarship Committee, having received the award in 2008. The year-long scholarship allowed him to travel to cities around Western Europe to study and document iconic public spaces, which he then related to Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Josh received an MSc in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.Arch from Syracuse University. He is currently working on a new streetscape and vision for the Town Center in Weston, MA and community events pavilion for the Governor Ames Estate in Easton, MA.

Kyle Belcher joins Utile as an architectural and urban designer. A graduate of the California College of the Arts and Harvard Graduate School Design with a Master of Architecture and Urban Design, Kyle has worked in San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston. Last year, he co-taught a multi-disciplinary seminar at RISD on the “African Institute of Healthcare Transformation,” which sent him to Kenya last summer with two of his students to oversee construction of a new facility at the Sagam Hospital and Clinic. At Utile, he is working on the SouthField Town Center, a mixed-used development of retail and 265 units of rental housing.

Paul Miller joins Utile as a designer and project architect. Previously, he worked at Pavette in Boston and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and SHoP Architects in New York City on large-scale residential, commercial and cultural projects.  Paul earned the Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University where he was awarded the James Britton Memorial Prize for his thesis project. A contributing author to the Young Architects Forum, he is a licensed architect in New York State and a member of the Syracuse University Generation Orange Leadership Council. He is currently serving as Project Architect for a multi-family residential building in the South End neighborhood of Boston.

One Beach Under Construction

Utile is excited to be nearing completion on the construction of One Beach, a 39-unit affordable senior housing building in Revere, MA. The project, being undertaken by The Neighborhood Developers, will provide much needed rental housing for residents in the heart of downtown Revere. Units and common areas feature a broad range of enhanced accessibility features. A community living space, fitness area, and meeting room anchor the ground floor of the building along Broadway, while an outdoor courtyard and landscaping provide a welcome buffer from the bustle of the city. The building is located along several bus lines and within a short walk to Revere’s central business district. Its completion will be an excellent complement to the City’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the downtown area. Stay tuned for more updates!

one beach facade detail


Utile participates in Boston Design Week

This year’s Boston Design Week offers an exciting program of talks, films, tours, and other events covering a range of design topics throughout the city. Tickets have sold out for Utile’s presentation on the City Hall and Plaza master plan project, co-hosted with the City of Boston and the Boston Preservation Alliance. Click here to read more about “Form (Finally) Meets Function – Rethinking City Hall”, taking place on Tuesday April 5th at 6pm.

Boston Design Week

600 Harrison under construction

IMG_1350With the roof deck concrete poured, 600 Harrison Ave now rises to 70′ above the intersection with Malden St. in the South End. Construction commenced in January 2015,  replacing the site of an existing parking lot that formerly housed a lumber yard with direct water access to the South Bay. The above-ground building structure is a stud bearing wall system, supplemented by steel members to accommodate variations in the building’s geometry. Below, two levels of parking sit atop 150 concrete piles, driven up to 120′ below the lowest slab to reach bedrock.

600 Harrison Ave will open at the end of this summer, providing new residential and retail amenities to the neighborhood.

On the road with Imagine Boston

“‘If we cannot afford it now, how are we going to afford it later?'”

This week, Imagine Boston and Utile went to Dorchester to gather feedback from residents as part of an ongoing discussion on how to address Boston’s staggering growth and high housing costs. According to John Fitzgerald, deputy director of Imagine Boston 2030, residents’ top priorities include affordable housing, better transportation, and better education. Read more about the community meeting in the Dorchester Reporter.

imagine boston_dorchester

Rethinking the public meeting in Cambridge

Utile’s work with the Cambridge Community Development Department and Interboro Partners was recently mentioned in Rachel Kaufman’s article for Next City:

“Home to MIT, Harvard and Junior Mints, the city of 100,000 is spending the next year listening to citizens and community groups and aiming to hear from members of every community. City staffers are preparing to take meetings out of City Hall and into the streets. Their strategy — one that might even convince citizens that planning is fun — is ambitious and experimental, but so far, Cambridge thinks it’s getting it right.”

Read the article here.

cambridge residentsAbove: Cambridge residents draw their routes to work and mark what they like and would like to improve on engagement stations designed by Interboro Partners.

Taking action in Upham’s Corner


Utile has been working closely with Noah Hicks (back row, left), Historic Boston, Inc., and The American City Coalition to realize the revitalization of a long abandoned historic structure in Upham’s Corner.

Noah is the founder of the Bowdoin Bike School, a local community cycling organization. A lifelong Bostonian and Bowdoin-Geneva resident, Noah grew his early hobby of tinkering with bikes into a career as a bicycle mechanic and advocate for bicycle safety and equity. While the Bowdoin Bike School provides low­-cost repair services and free instruction, Noah’s new project, Sip & Spoke Bike Kitchen, will be a mission-driven retail business, integrating a full service bike shop and cafe with a strong focus on local, community-based goods and services.

Sip & Spoke will bring additional services that encourage youth development, economic self-sufficiency, transit justice, and health equity to a permanent space on Columbia Road, a key transportation artery that is increasingly used by local and regional cyclists.  The historic structure at 611 Columbia Road  was built in 1912 for the streetcar system that once connected Boston’s neighborhoods. Its rehabilitation will be a huge asset to the community and provide a dynamic connection between the neighborhood’s past and its future. This project has strong and broad support from the Mayor of Boston and city agencies to neighborhood residents and the local and national biking community.

With construction financing in place through Historic Boston Incorporated, Noah is currently raising buildout, equipment, and start‐up costs for Sip & Spoke. From the beginning, this venture has benefited from a strong community. We encourage all to support Noah in reaching his fundraising goals.

Utile goes to Detroit

2016_01_27 Base Map_Context-01

Utile was thrilled to interview for the Detroit East Riverfront Framework Plan in Detroit, MI.  Among the 24 teams that submitted for the four hundred acre riverfront plan, Utile was one of seven that were chosen, including BJH Advisors in collaboration with  FXFOWLE, STOSS Landscape Urbanism with Studio Gang, Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism with Hood Studio, SOM with MDP-IHA and Mohsen Mostafavi, and Gensler with James Burnett. The jury was comprised of a nationally renowned panel including Maurice Cox, City of Detroit; William A. Gilchrist, City of New Orleans; Richard Hosey III, Hosey Development LLC; Jed Howbert, City of Detroit Office of the Mayor; Moddie Turay, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation; Mark Wallace, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy and Dorothée Imbert, Knowlton School at Ohio State University. While the competition is stiff, Utile is excited to be a part of the process and the potential transformation of the Detroit waterfront.

Read more about the project in the Detroit Free Press and on Curbed.

2016-01-26 Jefferson Ave-02 axon lineup

Images from top to bottom: 1) The study area for Detroit’s East River is over two miles long and half a a mile deep. 2) The future Jefferson Avenue  3) One primary question is what building types are appropriate to district density.

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