Receiving a first prize in an international urban design competition, this proposal for Somerville’s Brickbottom District, illustrates how a gritty underutilized industrial area can be transformed into a vibrant and sustainable mixed-use community.
Located at the edge of Boston proper, this gritty industrial area is currently inhabited by artists and small manufacturing companies. This proposal envisions a mixed-use regional center for developing and marketing ecologically sustainable vehicles and technologies. As its centerpiece, the community provides a large, airy physical and spatial framework for automotive and alternative vehicle research labs. Start-up labs and offices are located beneath the framework’s luminous canopy. Research is conducted in labs with strong links to local universities (MIT, Tufts and others). Funded by international automotive manufacturers and venture capital this district serves to attract top research talent addressing the design of alternative systems of mobility which are ecologically sustainable. A test track for experimental vehicles, weaves through the site and its buildings. A showroom featuring the latest innovations in technologies runs parallel to McGrath Highway. The interior of the site is organized around a network of gardens laced between research labs, fabrication shops, galleries, studios, shops, and residences. Pedestrian and bike paths are interconnected with inter-modal transportation networks providing access to adjacent neighborhoods by car or tram.