11.945 | Spring 2004 | Graduate

Springfield Studio


1 Course Introduction

Urban Neighborhood Decline: Causes, Consequences, Challenges in Springfield

This class introduces the problems facing urban communities, the causes and forces behind their decline, and describes some of the economic and physical consequences. The issues facing the North End of Springfield are introduced and discussed. A video offering background on Springfield will be viewed.
2 Ways of Seeing: Assessing the Physical and Social Environment of a Community This class will introduce several urban design and development analysis tools. Ways of seeing the built environment will be explored. This class will provide an overview of the built environment/architecture of urban neighborhoods and examine the changes that have occurred to these features during the 20th Century. We will examine the historic form of urban communities, the unsympathetic alterations to them that have occurred in the last fifty years, and some of the efforts that are now being made to restore or complement these features.

In addition, we will discuss the nature of reflective practice and how the “observer” brings judgments and biases to his/her ways of seeing a community. Field Trip assignment sheets will be distributed and trip teams formed.

3 Field Trip to the North End, Springfield, Massachusetts The class will leave Thursday evening to prepare for an all-day field trip (8am - 6pm) to the North End of Springfield on Friday. The class will visit with the client, take a walking tour of the community, meet with selected stakeholders, and record first impressions. Time will be reserved toward the end of the day on Friday for the class to discuss first impressions and to prepare a preliminary list of issues, goals, and possible interventions.
4 Field Trip Debriefing and Resource Review The class will pin-up materials collected during the field trip, including photos, list of first impressions, preliminary list of issues and goals. Class discussion will focus how this information is used to begin discussing project possibilities with the client. The class will also begin to identify gaps in information and resource.

A review will also be made of the resources available to the class and computing expectations. GIS documentation, strategic plans, and other forms of community resources will be reviewed and protocols established for working with and sharing digital files.

5 Work Session: Urban Design Analysis Goals and Techniques The class will focus on the physical analysis of the community and will begin to prepare urban design analyses that cover such things as traffic and pedestrian flow, social and commercial activity paths and nodes, community image, architecture and urban design, and open space and recreation. Students will review precedents for various types of analysis and begin to determine the best ways to convey information about the North End. Students will draft a work plan for moving forward, including assignments to individuals and deadlines for work.
6 Work Session: Urban Design Analysis

Guest: Andrew Grace, Senior Urban Designer Boston Redevelopment Authority

This class is devoted to discussing the preparation of urban design analysis drawings and to putting skills into practice.
7 Community Needs: Programming This class focuses on an evaluation of previous community planning, including strategic planning in the North End and the stated needs of the community. A discussion of the recent Strategic Plan will occur within the context of the field trip and information collected to date. Students will be responsible for reading and summarizing from various assigned studies and readings and making short presentations in class regarding same (Assignment #1 due). An emphasis will be placed on identifying the community voices missing from various planning efforts undertaken in the community.
8 Work Session: Case Studies

Guests: LaTonya Green, and Steve Heikin

With faculty assistance, students will identify relevant case studies that look at other communities and physical design interventions that address community centers, overcoming physical barriers, and community identity-building. Students will use the class session to do research and assemble a key set of characteristics on chosen case studies.
9 Community Capacity This class considers various methods for assessing community capacity and explores their application to the North End community. We will explore community opportunities and barriers with an emphasis on potential implementation strategies from an institutional perspective. What community resources are available to support implementation of our plans? What supplemental resources might be needed?
10 Physical Design Strategies Part 1 This class is the first of two class sessions that focus on possible physical revitalization strategies for the North End. Streetscape, activity nodes, and open space will be discussed as possible frameworks for a physical strategy for creating a community campus center. It will discuss the different ways in which streets, sidewalks, and public amenities can enhance or detract from the public realm and introduce methods used to enhance public space for both pedestrians and automobiles.
11 Physical Design Strategies Part 2 This class will explore ways to analyze and develop enhancements to a community’s identity and sense of place, beginning with a discussion of image and neighborhood form. We will discuss how community identity and capacity and physical planning interrelate and which are the historic and current roles of race, class and gender issues in the North End.
12 Working Session

13 Presentation of Student Work Students will make a presentation on Phase I analysis findings. This presentation will serve as a “dry run” for the client presentations later in the week. Students will assemble and present data working with the entire class (prior assignments in data collection, documentation and analysis will determine roles). Presentations will include assessment of existing physical conditions, results of community analysis, and site selection criteria and evaluation. Discussion is intended to assist the students in codifying ideas, focusing on challenge areas, and moving toward project goals. At the completion of the presentations and discussions, students will be assigned to one of two teams to continue with Phases 2 and 3 of the work.

Client presentations of Phase 1 will take place at some point during this week (a likely Thursday evening/Friday field trip to Springfield).

14 Working Session: Presentation Revisions Students will finalize client presentation based on feedback from “dry-run” on Tuesday. Class will discuss next steps for Phase 2 and how elements of an urban design plan are developed. Teams will create a work plan, assign team roles, and draft a schedule for the remainder of the semester.
15 Field Trip to North End, Springfield: Client Presentations Leaving on Thursday evening and presenting early on Friday to client. Debriefing session to be held at NEON prior to returning to Cambridge. Back in Cambridge by early evening.
16 Working Session: Development of a Conceptual Plan This working session will begin with a short recap of client feedback. (30 min.) Students will then use that information to move projects forward into Phase 2 where specific opportunities for a community “center” will be identified and developed. Students will now work in their assigned teams. Instructors will offer individual critiques and assistance throughout the class. This first working session will serve as time to organize the team and set priorities. Mid-session, the two teams will present work plans and schedules for moving forward. Students will then use the remaining time to begin their conceptual plans: identify an optimal site, show proposed open spaces, uses and activities and pedestrian/vehicular connections throughout the neighborhood and beyond.
17 Working Session: Development of a Conceptual Plan (cont.) Students will continue to develop their conceptual plans.
18 Presentations of Conceptual Plans The teams will make an informal presentation of rough conceptual ideas in the last half of the class session.
19 Implementation Techniques

Guest: Karl Seidman

Strong organizations and mechanisms to strengthen coordination among key community stakeholders are critical to successful implementation of a community center master plan. This class will focus on mechanisms for organization and capacity building by identifying implementation opportunities and constraints. Students will present conceptual plans to faculty and guests and will receive feedback on perceived challenges and appropriate implementation strategies.
20 Working Session This working session marks the beginning of moving beyond conceptual plans to develop specific physical recommendations for the site. Teams will develop areas of the plan in greater detail.
21 Working Session

22 Working Session

23 Working Session: Synthesis of Ideas As the plans are developed in greater detail, teams will begin to prioritize ideas and goals and will seek to link capacity, implementation, and physical interventions.
24 Working Session: Synthesis of Ideas (cont.)

25 Synthesis - Final Plan Integration, Key Findings and Themes This working session will seek to identify links between elements of the plan, describe key findings, and illustrate key themes with clear and compelling graphics and text.
26 Presentation of Draft Plans Each team will have 30 minutes to present the key elements and concepts of its plan. Discussion will offer feedback on presentation style, clarity and effectiveness of graphics, and content of draft recommendations.
27 Presentation of Draft Plans (cont.) Again, each team will have 30 minutes to make a revised in-class presentation of its revitalization plan. It is expected that presentation style, content and graphics will reflect consideration of feedback offered in during the previous class.
28 Course Conclusion / Reflections A discussion of the working process, areas of frustration, and lessons learned will seek to contribute to the students’ experience with reflective planning practice.
29 Final Report / Plans Due Three copies of the final report/plans are due in Susan Silberberg’s office by 3pm today.
30 Presentations to the Client

31 Final Presentations Teams will make final presentations in Springfield.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2004
Learning Resource Types
Image Gallery
Projects with Examples
Activity Assignments