Studio Luz Architecture and Urban Design

Viaduct Restoration and the Future of Downtown Lynn

By funkhaus

The City of Lynn, Massachusetts is one of the oldest cities in the area. Today it sits as the eight largest municipality in Massachusetts. The city is known for its diversity and for its hard working-class, predominantly immigrant, communities who have been breathing new life into the area in recent years. As an older city center, Lynn had many outdated structures including the emblematic viaducts which were constructed in 1913 and have since fallen into a state of dilapidation along with much of the Downtown Area. Studio Luz has been working closely with this community – a vital part of Boston’s urban core – to revive these viaducts and the Downtown area as a whole.

The viaducts were originally used as storefronts for businesses. Although they have been empty for a long time, the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation currently use the viaducts and storefronts as the location of the local farmers market. With this development, alongside Planned MBTA improvements and the Lynn Cultural District Recovery Plan, this is a time of momentum and vision for the City of Lynn. The recovery plan in Downtown Lynn’s Cultural District was started during the COVID-19 Pandemic to help create an actionable, project-based plan that supports businesses recovering from COVID-19 related impacts. “Lynnstallation” is a project that has already begun as a creative placemaking project for an underutilized space to encourage community engagement. Along with art installations, this plan aims to support new and existing businesses in the area. By activating the underutilized space in the viaducts, we can add to their efforts of recovery and support new small businesses by creating higher foot traffic and creating a more vibrant gateway to Lynn’s cultural district.

Interactive sticky note exercise done during a Studio Luz hosted Community Workshop at the Lynn Museum where community members could leave feedback on the plans for the Viaducts

We at Studio Luz have been working alongside these institutions, including working with the City of Lynn’s Arts and Cultural Planner LaCrecia Thomson and Nathaniel Thomas from Mass Development, while incorporating the voices of community members to ensure that their spaces are serving them and that their opinions are taken into consideration by these larger corporations. Over the last few months we have continued our interactive workshops which employ unique techniques meant to stimulate thought and engagement from the community to bring forth ideas which they wish to see enacted in these revitalization programs. Through prioritizing important cultural sectors and local businesses we can ensure that the authenticity of this city remains intact despite major shifts in the look and feel of the downtown area. Look below for the prompts we created for the community to respond to but more importantly see how the community members envision the reactivation of the viaducts to serve all members of the community. Click this link to read more about how Studio Luz creates a process whereas community members lead the design efforts for their city.

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