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.

Utile welcomes Nupoor Monani

IMG_0472_1-Nupoor-webNupoor Monani has joined Utile after receiving her Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Since joining the firm, Nupoor has been primarily involved in visioning for Imagine Boston 2030, the City’s first comprehensive plan in nearly 50 years. “I’m excited to apply my design background to spatial planning projects at Utile, and to gain from the firm’s vast repository of knowledge and experience working in Greater Boston”, says Nupoor. Her past professional experience ranges from architectural design in her hometown Mumbai to teaching design studios, most recently for the Career Discovery program at Harvard GSD. We welcome her to the Utile. team!

Lighting Boston City Hall

City Hall Exterior Lighting 01-14-16


Utile’s work for the lighting of Boston City Hall was recently featured in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Developed with with Lam Partners and WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff, Utile’s plan uses LED technology to restore the building’s original design intent while meeting the City’s sustainability goals. The new scheme will remove the unsightly flood lights that have been added to the building over the years, and will make City Hall Plaza a more vibrant, safe, and welcoming space at the city’s civic heart.

Utile’s newest designer: Angela Lufkin

Angela LufkinUtile is happy to welcome its newest architectural and urban designer, Angela Lufkin, who recently graduated summa cum laude with a BSD in Architecture from Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was awarded The Design School’s prestigious Sean Murphy Travel Prize, which sponsored a summer of independent travel through Japan. Angela is motivated by the shifting role of architecture and urbanism in response to the digital realm and increasingly rapid technological advancement. She believes that “with so many lines blurring inside (and outside) of the discipline, this is one of those particularly powerful times to be engaged in the future of the built environment.” Her multi-faceted skillset has already proven to be a beneficial asset to Utile!

Utile’s Matthew Littell and Imagine Boston’s Sara Myerson kick off NEU Open Classroom Series

Northeastern University’s Myra Kraft Open Classroom will spend the semester-long lecture series focusing on Imagine Boston 2030 and the issues that will be addressed by Boston’s first citywide plan in fifty years. To kick off the series, Utile principal Matthew Littell and Imagine Boston 2030 Executive Director Sara Myerson presented on the work Imagine Boston has done to date. They were joined by Anthony Flint of the Lincoln Land Institute, and David Luberoff of Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs moderated a lively discussion.

The weekly panel discussions are free and open to the public, and feature a who’s-who of Boston area thought-leaders. On March 2nd Utile principalTim Love and the City of Boston’s Chief of Streets Chris Osgood will talk about enhancing the public realm. Check out the full schedule!

Welcome, Kelly Lynema!

Kelly LynemaKelly has joined Utile’s urban planning team, coming from the Boston Studio of NBBJ as an Associate Urban Planner. Her extensive background in writing, design, and communications has helped inform her belief that “design is a powerful communication  tool for engaging with stakeholders and the community, helping to convey how good ideas – big and small – can create better future environments in our cities and neighborhoods.” Kelly has a Masters in Urban Planning from Harvard University, and graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a bachelor degree in Urban Sociology, where she completed a nine-month fellowship in a participatory planning project focused on community visioning for transit-oriented development in Somerville and Somerset, MA. In the short time she’s been at Utile, Kelly has already proven to be a valuable resource. We’re thrilled to have her on board!

City of Boston selects Utile, with Grimshaw Architects and Reed Hilderbrand, to study City Hall and City Hall Plaza

Rethink City HallOn November 3, 2015 the City of Boston announced that Utile, with Grimshaw Architects and Reed Hilderbrand, has been commissioned by the Property and Construction Management Department to direct a one-year planning process that will lead to a comprehensive roadmap for design and operational improvements to City Hall and its plaza. “I am excited to have Utile on board as we work to identify ways to activate our civic spaces,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “As we progress in the planning process, it is important to take inventory of all of our assets to be able to identify opportunities for improvement. This study will help us develop a thoughtful and forward-looking plan to reimagine City Hall and the plaza as thriving, healthy, and innovative civic spaces.”

The team is thrilled to consider the plaza and the internal workings of City Hall simultaneously. Key goals include the physical reorganization of city departments so they better serve the diverse constituents who visit the building, renovations to the plaza to encourage a wider range of activities at all times of the year, and the creation of stronger connections between City Hall, the Plaza, and the surrounding urban fabric.

One challenge is the general public’s negative opinion of City Hall and the Plaza. The consultant team plans to overcome these perceptions by highlighting the rich history of City Hall both as a physical artifact and as a repository of traditions and personal narratives that have accrued since the building first opened in 1968. With the rehabilitation of interior finishes, better lighting, and the reallocation of uses to better leverage the building’s dramatic interior spaces, the team is confident that the citizens of Boston will love City Hall again.

The primary aim is to reposition City Hall and the Plaza to reflect a 21st century vision of progressive city government in the civic heart of Boston. To better define this vision, they are seeking the ideas and feedback of professional and advocacy organizations, community groups, and the citizens of Boston. This engagement is happening through face-to-face meetings, social media, and the project web site

Union Square Neighborhood wins APA-MA Award!

Boynton Yards Axon

Utile is thrilled that the Union Square Neighborhood Plan was awarded the 2015 Comprehensive Planning Award by the American Planning Association Massachusetts Chapter (APA-MA)! The year-long planning process placed community consensus at the forefront, making sure all perspectives were brought to the table early. The outreach campaign and public process were spearheaded by the City of Somerville and directed by the Principle Group. Utile was the urban design and graphics lead, instrumental in rethinking the design and operation of streetscapes and public spaces in Union Square.

Additionally, the project team collaborated on a master plan for the development of Boynton Yards, a future job center and transit-orient­ed development that will provide a mix of commercial, residential, retail, and open spaces. This development, and associated infill sites in the core of the square, move the City of Somerville toward meeting the goals of its comprehensive plan. Collaboration between the client (the City of Somerville) and consultant group—as well as the constant feedback loop established between the community and the City—has resulted in a plan that is wholly inclusive by nature and in principle.

Utile featured in Compass Quarterly

E+ Housing

Utile was featured in The New Boston Blueprint – a piece in the new publication, Compass Quarterly – as one of eight firms in Boston that are “redefining home”. The article focuses on how these local firms are shaping the city’s dynamic residential portfolio through cutting-edge design against Boston’s historic backdrop. Also profiled in the article: Elkus Manfredi, Bruner/Cott, Touloukian Touloukian,  Höweler + Yoon, Studio Luz, Merge Architects, and Ruhl Walker.

Metro Boston covers Imagine Boston 2030’s traveling photo booth

Imagine Boston MetroImagine Boston 2030, the City’s first comprehensive planning effort in nearly 50 years, took its traveling selfie booth around town last week to ask members of the public where they picture themselves in the future. This is part of a multi-phase effort to engage the citizens of Boston in shaping the future of their city. Consulting for Imagine Boston 2030 is being led by HR&A, with Utile as planning and urban design partner.

Click here to read the full article and see more photos!

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