ENVISIONING THE SOUTH END OF TOMORROW – Live, Work and Recreate in a Transforming Neighborhood
Background and Challenges
Downtown Springfield is currently undergoing a substantial change of the physical urban fabric. The most visible examples are the construction of the MGM Casino Resort and the renovated Union Station into a multimodal transportation hub. The MGM Casino Resort is the first one in the country that is integrated in a core downtown area. It is obvious that downtown and its adjacent districts will change substantially. How can different uses next to each other coexist productively or can negative influences be being mitigated? How can people that live in the South End benefit from urban development? Will their neighborhood become a healthier, more beautiful and more social place? How can the South End maintain its diversity while obtaining more space for expressing culture in a positive way?
This design studio was a community service learning experience with goals and objectives that derived from informal interviews with people on the streets, stakeholder meetings, personal observations, sketching and case study research.
The design solutions can be synthesized with these recommendations:
• Create a multi-scalar greenway system for the whole neighborhood that creates a network of green squares and green streets.
• Plant big street trees throughout the neighborhood to filter air and make the streets more walkable.
• Create a system small places to sit and gather.
• Redesign residential streets that prioritizes bicycle and foot traffic.
• Create pedestrian crossings for Main Street and East Columbus Avenue to slow traffic down.
• Design East and West Columbus Avenue as pedestrian-and bicycle-friendly corridors through a road diet and speed reduction.
• Foster Connections underneath I-91 and across the Railroad to engage the Connecticut River and the Riverfront Park.
• Create infill development on Main Street that supports local commerce and services.
• Use vacant lots in the neighborhood for new housing that is green, innovative and attractive for diverse demographics.
• Reduce the impact of stormwater runoff through swales along streets and underused land.
• Address the diversity in the neighborhood and embrace the diversity of cultures through visual and performative art and ethnic food.
This studio will advise the City of Springfield mitigating the impact of the casino through the media of Landscape Architecture.