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

Publication Date

Spring 2019


Studio Instructors:

Michael DiPasquale, Extension Assistant Professor of Regional Planning

Frank Sleegers, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture

Project location: Springfield, MA.

Editor: Frank Sleegers

This project was sponsored through the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and the City of Springfield in coordination with the UMass Amherst Design Center.



Placemaking in Metro East Springfield – Creating a Landscape Framework provides strategies to use the landscape as a framework for rebuilding community in a downtown urban area that has “good bones” but has been neglected and overlooked for decades. A catalyst for the development of project area is the recent acquisition of the historical 1916 Willys Overland building through a developer. The Graduate Urban Design Studio 2018 developed five proposals for urban revitalization in the area that are centered on the landscape. The programming of the proposals was developed in collaboration with neighborhood representatives and stakeholders of the area. The public response was very positive and the project got recognized in the local press and media.

The Landscape Framework is interwoven with cultural activities such as public art and education, new opportunities for small neighborhood commerce, future employment and possibilities for new housing. The Landscape Framework will bring expand urban greening and will reduce heat island effects to reduce the impact of climate change. The presented Landscape Framework will guide the future of the area as overlapping and simultaneous measures.

They encompass:

  • Tangible tactile interventions on streets, facades and underutilized lots that change the perception of the landscape at low cost but are highly effective.
  • New parks that create areas for recreation and contemplation.
  • Greenway promenades connect to shorten long blocks and create a network to the neighboring residential areas.
  • Establishment of urban agriculture activities to build community, provide food security and education.
  • Collaboration with existing organizations in Springfield that are actively involved with urban agriculture: Gardening the Community (GTC) Springfield, Wellspring Harvest first commercial hydroponic greenhouse, UMass Extension and UMass Permaculture, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC).
  • Walkable streets through extensive street tree plantings, widening of sidewalks, adding bicycle lanes and introducing shared multi-functional streets for community events.
  • Stormwater Management through bioswales along streets, green roofs, larger infiltration areas in new parks and porous pavement.
  • Promotion of alternative stormwater management through education and artistic interventions.

People want to connect culturally and socially. Creating a sense of place, common ownership, and connectivity are a vital part of a sustainable community. This includes:

  • Complimentary cultural, art, craft and education at new Maker-Spaces.
  • Daycare Center and other childcare services.
  • Outdoor pop-up business opportunities for food vendors such as food carts and trucks.
  • Indoor pop-up business opportunities in abandoned or underutilized buildings.
  • Adaptive reuse of existing architecture and infill.
  • Diversification of housing market with inclusion of market-rate housing to create a more balanced economy.
  • Legal framework through zoning changes and permitting that supports small businesses, reduces bureaucratic burdens and secures public open green space.