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

Publication Date

Spring 2020


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.


Healthy Placemaking - Revitalizing Springfield’s Medical District

Healthy Placemaking for the North End Medical District was a community engagement urban design studio for Springfield, MA to propose a new vision for the Medical District as an exemplary model of healthy place-making. WHAT IS HEALTHY PLACE-MAKING? Healthy place-making is a creative process that generates an interconnected mixture of amenities that activate the public realm, creating a livelihood that builds upon sense of place. Urban design strategies consider the ecological relationship between people and the environment in order to provide design interventions that improve the mental, physical, social, and economic wellbeing of inhabitants. Contextually rooted in the history of the area, new and adapted development illustrates environmentally responsible initiatives.

EXISTING CONDITIONS 1. No Sense of Place 2. Weak Connections 3. No Mix of Uses and Amenities 4. Unhealthy Environment

STUDIO PROCESS AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT Meetings with diverse stakeholders – residents, community leaders, employees in the medical industry- led to a better understanding of assets, challenges and goals from different perspectives. Listening to their ideas was influential for developing the design program.

DESIGN STRATEGIES AND OBJECTIVES 1. Enhance the Sense of Place The designs create a sense of place through Landscape Architecture for playing and gathering and the enjoyment of the beauty and healing of plants. 2. Increase Connections The designs create new green connections to work, school and nature in the city. 3. Provide a Balance of Amenities A variety of amenities are introduced into the urban fabric to activate the street life while also stimulating the local economy. 4. Green Infrastructure as a Framework for Public Health Green infrastructure and public health are intrinsically linked: stormwater management, tree canopy, pervious surface cover, and public open space.

PLACE-ORIENTED DESIGN PROPOSALS The work explores design proposals for three different places: DESTINATION WASON RIVERSIDE creates two new destinations on the edge of the Connecticut River that engage people and plants, BRIGHTWOOD’S MEDICAL EDGE designs a livable neighborhood with a mix of amenities, gathering places, infill for housing and a remodeled industrial edge to mitigate the impact for residents and to improve the services, and HEALTHY SPACES FOR HEALTHY PEOPLE designs a walkable, green Medical Campus with the framework of the healing landscape.