The American Planning Association – Massachusetts Chapter (APA-MA) has awarded Student Project Awards to two plans created by Harvard University Graduate School of Design studios. The Second Semester Core Urban Planning Studios for the 2014 and 2015 Master of Urban Planning cohorts created the plans, entitled “Plan Downtown Malden” and “Connect Chelsea – Three Visions for a Gateway City.”
“Plan Downtown Malden” builds on a 2010 master plan for the city of Malden, MA, prepared by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The studio project focused on a key area identified in the plan, the downtown area surrounding an Orange Line station. Working collaboratively with the city of Malden and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, student work was incorporated into Malden’s official downtown Blueprint for Action.
“Connect Chelsea” focuses on the area near the terminus of a proposed rapid transit line extension to the City of Chelsea, MA. Adding capacity to the city’s planning department and supporting local community development efforts, the plan seeks to anticipate economic development and land use changes that might result from this major infrastructure investment.
Malden and Chelsea are both gateway cities with large immigrant populations. Key issues in both included affordable housing, open space, business development, transport connections, cultural activities, redevelopment opportunities, and urban design. In Malden students engaged well over 1,000 residents and workers in the plan—660 in face-to-face and intensive telephone conversations and hundreds more online. In Chelsea students met with community members on the street, as they rode in buses, in group meetings, and as they shopped in the major supermarket.
Harvard Urban Planning Organization Co-President Kevin Gurley (MUP ’15) was excited to hear that APA-MA has recognized the plans. Gurley hopes that students at other planning schools in Massachusetts will be able to extract lessons for their practices from the plans.
Said Gurley, “When planning for transit-oriented developments, we should keep in mind communities such as Chelsea [and Malden]. Chelsea has a high population density, a large immigrant population, and a large transit dependency. Despite being just over 5 km from downtown Boston, Chelsea has poor transit connectivity to the city's economic core, leaving many Chelsea residents with a long and congested commute to the inner city. The ‘Connect Chelsea' project is a great example of how to improve our regional transportation networks by starting with the nearby communities who need it the most.”