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Supporting the cultural infrastructure in industrial cities with MassDevelopment

By funkhaus

At Studio Luz Architects, we have teamed up with MassDevelopment to provide design solutions to support them in their mission to stimulate business, drive economic growth, and help communities thrive across Massachusetts. We have begun work in the cities of Lynn, Lawrence, and Revere, drawing inspiration from each setting’s unique ecological features to breathe new life into these urban landscapes and mill cities.

We were approached by MassDevelopement in November of 2021 to consult on projects throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The City of Lynn, which is the 9th largest municipality just under 4 miles outside of Boston’s urban center, has a goal to create a vibrant and economically viable plan for revitalizing the downtown viaducts, which currently live under an MBTA commuter rail line. Currently used as storage for local vendors at the nearby farmers market, the site remains underutilized. The city’s preliminary goals for the project are to support aspiring entrepreneurs and artisans, improve the public realm in Central Square, and transform the viaducts into a regional destination. Intrigued by the client’s vision, Studio Luz will provide design services to assess future programming for the viaducts and the resultant architectural needs of the space. Throughout the upcoming year, Studio Luz is set to conduct community workshop sessions with food tenants and other community groups in collaboration with the City of Lynn in order to provide an overview of existing site conditions, constraints, and challenges surrounding the context. Then, taking community feedback into consideration, we will develop potential programming scenarios for the viaducts using diagrams and recommendations for architectural improvements.

We are following a similar structure of analysis and programming in the cities of Revere and Lawrence as well, providing insights and deliverables for McKinley School and the preservation of historic mill buildings on the West Island, respectively. Each program takes into consideration the cities’ ecological nuances and concerns for preservation, as well as the diverse neighborhoods these spaces are serving.

Each of these projects is aimed at stimulating economic and community support in these areas in a way that recognizes and celebrates and includes their residents rather than isolating and displacing which spoke to the core values of our studio. Led by Hansy Better Barraza, Elise Zilius and Paul Dahlke, the studio has extensive experience with place making and community engagement working with a mix portfolio of commercial, institutional and residential projects serving racially diverse neighborhoods. In the new year we look forward to modeling new futures with our partner MassDevelopment and MPZ Development.

We look forward to continuing our work with local residents, stakeholders, business leaders, municipal partners bringing along fresh hopes and ideas to these cities along with the new year.