The goal of the Master of Regional Planning Studio is to develop a student’s techniques for collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing spatial and non-spatial data and then presenting that collective data in a manner (i.e., report, video, presentation, and charettes) that is understandable to academics, professionals, and the public. Planning Studio allows students to integrate knowledge from coursework and research, and apply such knowledge to resolving representative planning problems. At UMASS Amherst, these problems are found in neighborhood, rural, urban, and/or regional settings.
In the fall of 2016, the City of Chicopee gave the Regional Planning Studio four directives that aim to increase local and regional connections for the City’s pedestrians and bicyclists. The directives are as follows:
- A delineation of sectors, or cohesive spatial sub-units, that will divide the City and serve as the backbone of a vision for pedestrian and bicycle networks.
- The definition of key destinations within each of these sectors, which will serve as nodes to connect the districts.
- The creation of proposed paths, which will function as connections between destination points.
- Public engagement centered on soliciting input from community members and stakeholder groups impacted by safe walking and bicycling routes to school.
These directives stem from the Chicopee Planning Department’s observation that the City’s data pedestrian access illustrate highly inconsistent and incomplete sidewalk network. These conditions have resulted in pedestrian access challenges to major local destinations including schools, recreational facilities, commercial areas, services, and surrounding communities. Networks of Opportunity: A Citywide Vision for Pedestrian and Bicycle Pathways in Chicopee, Massachusetts aims to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety by suggesting paths that transverse the city, infrastructure improvements to make key roads safer for all users, and highlight local recreational and cultural opportunities for community residents.