Union Square Neighborhood Plan wins 2016 CNU-NE Urbanism Award
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
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
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.
Join us to Light Boston City Hall on Thursday!
Please join us on the evening of Thursday, October 13th as Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston unveil Boston City Hall’s new architectural lighting. The first step in transforming City Hall and the Plaza, Utile and Lam Partners’ lighting design will celebrate the building’s architecture and create a better illuminated edge to City Hall Plaza. Mayor Walsh is scheduled to turn on the lights at 6:45pm.
Girard is now open in Boston’s South End!
Utile and New Atlantic Development’s mixed-use apartment complex, Girard, has opened its doors to tenants. Named after American textile designer Alexander Girard, the 160-unit building is described by Boston Magazine’s Madeline Bilis as “a piece of 1950s eye candy, drawing from the aesthetics of famed furniture designers Eames, Knoll, and Nelson” in her article, This South End Apartment Complex Is Inspired by Midcentury Design.
Common spaces include thoughtfully curated furnishings that honor mid century design, a roof terrace with gas fire pit looking to panoramic views of Boston, and an open common area complete with a kitchen and library. Additionally, Girard hosts a gallery featuring a rotation of local artists to celebrate the South End SoWa district’s rich artist culture, a mission important to developer Peter Roth. He tells The Chelsea Record, “It’s a strong building and very respectful to its historic context, but there’s nothing historic about it. It’s strikingly contemporary . . . Our goal is to really share information about design, architecture, and the arts and build that into a community.”
Drew Kane presents in the UMass Amherst Zube Lecture Series
Utile project manager and planner Drew Kane was last Thursday’s invited presenter in the Zube 2016 Fall Lecture Series at the University of Massachusetts Amherst through the department of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning (LA&RP). His presentation, Local Identity and Urban Design: Using Cultural Expression and Existing Form to Guide Design and Planning, explored how cities recognize the value of overlooked spaces, historic form, and local character as an asset for future investment.
The lecture series – named after the former head of LA&RP, Ervin Zube – aims to enrich the community with thoughts and works of local, national, and international academic and professional leaders.
Utile celebrates Downeast Cider’s new East Boston facility
Utilians attended the Downeast Cider Open House to celebrate the unveiling of its new Boston Harbor Shipyard production facility in East Boston. Utile designed the 18,900 square foot renovation of the former ship building space to accommodate the cider brewer’s need to expand production capacity far beyond that of its previous Charlestown location. The new facility houses a full production line with brewing, canning, packaging, and shipping areas, as well as offices and lab space.
An interview with the Utile Co-ops
The Northeastern University School of Architecture checked in with Utile co-ops Melanie Hashiguchi, Ben Garbow, and Davae Gibson. You can read what the three architecture majors have to say about their current projects, getting to know the neighborhood, and how school is preparing them for a career in the design world here.
Weston Town Center reimagined
Utile’s draft master plan for Weston’s Town Center was strongly supported by the Board of Selectmen at a meeting on Tuesday evening. The proposal is predicated on making the lane widths of Boston Post Road consistent through the heart of the town. In addition, oversized intersections will be reduced in size to improve pedestrian connections. The result is more than an acre of new open space that includes wider sidewalks, Center Square, a new town square, and Knox Park, an intimately-scaled new park. Together they create a continuous link of diverse open spaces between the historic Town Green and the commercial heart of the town.