Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning Studio and Student Research and Creative Activity

Publication Date

Spring 2015


Graduate Urban Design Studio guided by

Michael DiPasquale, Extension Assistant Professor and Frank Sleegers, Associate Professor

Project location: Springfield, MA.

Editors: James Prendergast and Frank Sleegers

This project was sponsored by the City of Springfield in coordination with the UMass Amherst Design Center.


The following report documents the work of the 2015 Spring Graduate Urban Design Studio course in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. This fourteen week studio focused on using tactical urbanism to engage Springfield’s Metro Center neighborhood with visions to revitalize the downtown core of this legacy city.

In addition to completing the components of a traditional urban design studio (site analyses, schematic plans, spatial designs, and programming), the student teams also developed conceptual projects to immediately engage the public. These efforts culminated in a free afternoon walking tour throughout the Metro Center that presented several tactical interventions. These interactive, public installations illustrated potential future initiatives and brought attention to overlooked areas and assets. Throughout the semester the teams were challenged to continuously consider both the short-term impacts of their interventions and the long-term visions for the future of Springfield’s urban core. This strategy allowed students to develop a process-based approach to urban design. It provided opportunities to engage stakeholders and test new ideas with the public, rather than simply creating a master plan without any real world interactions with the city and its populace.


• To enliven public space in Springfield’s Metro Center through small-scale urban design interventions which illustrate and inform long-term plans

• To activate residual spaces in the downtown with Tactical Urbanism

By matching long-term visions for the Metro Center with short-term, site-specific tactical interventions the teams were able to deliver a variety of ideas in multiple formats. Furthermore, the experience of interacting with community members during the installation of projects added a great deal of meaning to the research and design process.

The work explores a community service learning strategy within the framework of an urban design studio with the goal of revitalizing the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, through sustainable design, planning, and engagement with the community.

The six design-team interventions are documented and published as team-authored videos:

1. Union Station Green Corridor

Maozhu Mao, Yuqing Wu

2. (No) Vacancy

Chris Counihan, Michalagh Stoddard, Ruoying Tang

3. Extra Space, Active Street

Yu Yu

4. Spring into Art

Emilie Jordao, Matt Hisle, Jing Wang

5. Urban Agua

Kellie Fenton, James Prendergast, Nelle Ward

6. Make the Connection

Yue Li, Yanhua Lu, Yi Yang