As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, new ideas for the planning and design of livable cities are in great demand. The Conway School is responding — its students are working to make cities more walkable, more efficient, and more ecologically rich. Recent Green Cities projects have involved designing bike paths, greening streetscapes, encouraging public transit, remediating brownfields, infiltrating stormwater, and linking parks and playgrounds to adjacent neighborhoods.
Recent projects reflect this growing concern for livable cities.
Green Streets Guidebook
Holyoke, once a thriving industrial center, is in a period of redevelopment. Like many older cities the city faces the issues of Combined Sewer Overflows and stormwater runoff polluting nearby water systems. This Guidebook proposes that Green Streets can help address these problems while creating more vibrant, livable communities. This Guidebook is intended to introduce city planners and policy makers to Green Streets, advocate for Green Streets implementation in Holyoke, and serve as a preliminary set of design guidelines to transform Holyoke’s streets into more ecologically, socially, and economically positive spaces.
A Placemaking Ideabook for Holyoke’s Innovation District
The City of Holyoke would like to promote an expansion of its innovation-based economy. By focusing placemaking efforts on
existing cultural and physical resources and the talents and initiative of its residents, Holyoke could support a culture of home-grown creativity, resilience, and innovation, create a strong sense of place, improve quality of life, and create conditions attractive to visitors and entrepreneurs. Building on successful examples from other cities and on already-existing projects in Holyoke, this IdeaBook suggests various strategies, at multiple scales and time-frames, to help create public spaces that foster the social interaction that is critical to innovation. These strategies involve promoting art and creative expression; temporary “pop-ups”; pedestrian- and bike-friendly environments; connections to canals and the Connecticut River; urban agriculture; and urban ecological repair.
Village Master Plan for Wilmington, Vermont
Although the historic structures of Wilmington’s village center have an air of timelessness, the village is constantly changing, both through human intervention and natural processes. This master plan strives to integrate economic revitalization, community development, and ecological health, each of which is critical to the long-term sustainability of Wilmington, by recommending ways to promote development outside the flood zone; reduce the effects of minor flood events, filter stormwater, runoff, and enhance ecological systems; create inviting, pedestrian-friendly streetscapes; revitalize existing public parks and create new ones; and calm traffic and define parking areas and spaces.
Waterboro, Maine, New Village Centers
The residents of Waterboro, Maine, hope to preserve the small town feel and ruralness they love about the place they live while also inviting growth and development to their town. They are considering ways to promote village centers in the town as one step towards accomplishing this goal. This document focuses on the ability of four areas (North Waterboro, Waterboro Center, East Waterboro, and South Waterboro) to evolve over time into strong village centers where Waterboro residents can live, shop, and walk about —village centers that provide residents with a strong sense of place.
Connecting the Pulaski Park Corridor, Holyoke, Mass.
This report demonstrates how physical connections can be created and how this corridor can become a pedestrian-oriented zone.
Spanish: Este reporte demuestra donde las conexiones físicas pueden ser posibles y como este corredor se basa en los objetivos del CCVP para una ciudad orientada a los peatones. También demuestra como el entorno físico alenta la fragmentación social que aísla a los residentes del centro de la ciudad y como asociaciones junto con residentes de Holyoke y organizaciones sin fines de lucro pueden ser un Puente para unir las diversas poblaciones.
Women Together’s Winslow Street Park, Worcester, Mass.
Women Together dreamed of buying a vacant half-acre property on Winslow Street and creating a public park. The park now exists. The creation of the park on the Winslow Street lot has allowed the Pleasant Street neighborhood to use this space as a community gathering place. In this urban context, usable greenspace helps improve the quality of life for residents since urban greenspace improves air and water quality, and provides space for people to recreate. By attracting businesses and visitors, this park further helps unify and revitalize the community and reduce crime. Women Together is a non-profit community group that is committed to ending violence by working together to create change.
Plan for the Revitalization of the Ajo (Arizona) Town Plaza
The vision for the restoration and revitalization of the Ajo Plaza is that “it will once again be a thriving economic center, a perfect stopping place for many of the more than a million cars that drive right by each year en route to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the sea coast in Mexico.” The six-acre Plaza property forms the southeastern boundary of the National Register Ajo Townsite Historic District. The focal point of the Plaza is the Plaza park, a lawn transected by walkways and bounded by palm trees and historic bollards. A closed bandstand sits in the middle of the park.
South Shore (Boston) Greenway
A citizen’s group for five coastal Massachusetts towns wanted a network of bikeways for recreational and day-today use. After extensive public input and GIS analysis, a Conway team developed a plan that connects bikeways in neighboring townships to regional transit hubs, local attractions and beaches, open space and parks, population centers and downtowns, and shopping. Designing these routes as greenways rather than simply as recreational routes included attention to habitat and natural resources as well. The plan, profiled in the Boston Globe, has been officially adopted by the Town of Norwell and is currently under consideration for inclusion in the state’s master bike trail plan.
Walk Winthrop: A Plan for a More Walkable and Bikeable Town
The Superintendent of Public Works in Winthrop, Massachusetts–a dynamic 1.64-square-mile peninsula extending out into Boston Harbor–envisioned a walkable and bikeable town for the enjoyment of citizens and summer tourists alike. The student project illustrated how a number of recent public projects could be linked into a cohesive network of walking and biking trails along with Winthrop’s historic railroad rights-of-way, public parks, nature reserves, beaches, and public places.
Sustaining Economy and Place: A Revitalization Guide for Centennial Business Park
Thirty years ago, the City of Peabody overcame significant hurdles–including blasting bedrock and moving tons of large boulders–to develop Centennial Business Park. Busy Route 128 was realigned to accommodate the Park, and a new exit provided direct access. Recently, the City of Peabody and businesses in Centennial collaborated to address contemporary challenges such as encouraging public transit and bike routes, remediating flooding, and draw a new mix of businesses to the park. The student project develops a more coherent design for the 300-acre, 45-building business park that reflects its geological and ecological context, enjoys a more efficient circulation pattern, and puts forth a vision to help guide their phased implementation.
People in the Park: A Toolkit for Fostering Vibrant Adirondack Communities
The six-million-acre Adirondack Park is the largest park in the lower 48 states, and unique in that residents live in villages and homesteads within and adjacent to wilderness areas. In 2008, the park’s residents were at a unique moment in their history. Long divided by passionate disagreement about land planning, residents were coming together to work out their differences. A group of leaders hired the Conway School to articulate a positive vision for moving forward. This handbook provided land planning suggestions across a wide-range of topics, from natural resource preservation to economic development, and was described by one of the clients as “the most innovative approach to local planning that the Adirondacks have seen in decades.”
Hopkinton, MA, Main Street Revitalization
In the past two decades, the town of Hopkinton–situated conveniently on the Route 495 beltway around Boston–has grown exponentially. Its commercial district, however, has not kept pace. The intersection of two state highways at the center of town is congested, is the scene of frequent traffic accidents, and seasonal flooding. Pedestrians are challenged by crumbling sidewalks, absence of cross walks, and a network of overhead utility lines obscure the handsome architecture and potential cross-town views. The student plan incorporated ways to incorporate rain gardens and green roofs to infiltrate stormwater, bury utilities and tuck parking behind buildings to improve sightlines, and improvements to pedestrian safety and amenities. The clients–business and property owners and the town’s Downtown Revitalization Committee–embraced the report enthusiastically.