Synopsis: This proposal for Somerville’s Brickbottom District, which received first prize in an international urban design competition, exemplifies the transformation of a gritty, underutilized industrial area into a vibrant, sustainable mixed-use community. Located at the edge of Boston proper, this district is currently inhabited by artists and small manufacturing companies.
Detailed Description: This proposal envisions a mixed-use regional center for developing and marketing ecologically sustainable vehicles and technologies. As its centerpiece, the community provides an extensive, airy physical/spatial framework for automotive and alternative vehicle research labs. The framework’s luminous canopy shelters startup labs and offices. Research is conducted in labs with strong links to local universities (MIT, Tufts, etc.). Funded by international automotive manufacturers and venture capital, this district attracts top research talent addressing the design of alternative mobility systems that are ecologically sustainable.
A test track for experimental vehicles weaves through the site and its buildings. A showroom featuring the latest technological innovations parallels McGrath Highway. The site’s interior is organized around a network of gardens laced among research labs, fabrication shops, galleries, studios, shops, and residences. Pedestrian and bike paths are interconnected with intermodal transportation networks accessing adjacent neighborhoods by car or tram.