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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Architecture

Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded

2012

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

Passenger Rail, Train Station, Holyoke, Transit Oriented Development, Knowledge Corridor, Station Design

Abstract

The intent of this thesis is to explore the design challenges and opportunities presented by the reintroduction of passenger rail to a small economically challenged New England city. Central to my thesis is that the advent of more efficient transportation options is not, in itself, enough: the infrastructure built to support those options must provide users with a comfortable, safe, and welcoming experience. The architecture of the rail station is critical in influencing that behavior and moving our society toward greater energy efficiency.

Holyoke is a small mill city in western Massachusetts whose fortunes peaked in the early twentieth century and today struggles with decaying buildings and infrastructure, high unemployment, and significant poverty. The city also has many strengths, including relatively inexpensive hydro-electric power, sturdy adaptable mill buildings, an excellent location, strong neighborhood and civic pride, and a rich history on which to build. The city’s boosters feel that it is ripe for a renaissance already being driven by industry, the creative economy, telecommuters escaping the region’s major cities, and tourism.

This research component of this thesis will explore:

  • Current and historical demographic, industrial, and commercial context of the city and its passenger rail service, including usage projections, connections with various parts of the city, and Transit Oriented Design implications
  • The needs of the adjacent Flats neighborhood for basic services and community space; strategies for attracting more consistent use of the station throughout its hours of operation by meeting the neighborhood residents’ needs
  • Potential requirements for a station’s future capacity and adaptability – it will consider strategies for creating a flexible and adaptable building so as to meet the needs of the station and city as it changes over time
  • Precedents that include rail stations and public buildings – it will investigate strategies used by effective public buildings

The design component of this thesis incorporates the above research in developing site and program plans with a specific focus on design strategies that address accessibility, wayfinding, relevant services, and creating a welcoming gateway into the residential, industrial, and commercial heart of the city.

First Advisor

Kathleen R. Lugosch

Second Advisor

Stephen Schreiber

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