American Planning Association awards AICP Student Project Award to studio

The American Planning Association has awarded an AICP Student Project Award to a plan created by a Harvard University Graduate School of Design studio. The Second Semester Core Urban Planning Studio for the 2015 Master of Urban Planning cohort is being recognized for their plan entitled “Connect Chelsea – Three Visions for a Gateway City.”

“Connect Chelsea” focuses on the area near the terminus of a proposed rapid transit line extension to the City of Chelsea, MA. Chelsea is a gateway city with a large immigrant population. Adding capacity to the city’s planning department and supporting local community development efforts, the plan anticipates economic development and land use changes that might result from this major infrastructure investment. Key issues included affordable housing, open space, business development, transport connections, cultural activities, redevelopment opportunities, and urban design.

Harvard Urban Planning Organization copresident Kevin Gurley (MUP ’15) reacted enthusiastically to the news that the APA is recognizing “Connect Chelsea.” Said Gurley, “Chelsea could be a great example for other cities that have experienced disinvestment, yet are places of opportunity for new Americans.” 

My Tam Nguyen (MUP ’15) echoed Gurley’s hope that the AICP Student Project Award will draw attention to the features of Chelsea that make it an attractive community for immigrants. Said Nguyen, “The recognition of ‘Connect Chelsea’ is most meaningful for the attention it brings to the assets, strengths, and potential of Chelsea as a community. As a gateway city for immigrants and in the infrastructure investment […] of the Silver Line, we hope this plan preserves what makes Chelsea unique, attracts what will support its growth and prosperity, and reflects the values and needs of its stakeholders.”

While “Connect Chelsea” offers stakeholder practical, implementable plans for the future, students also relished the opportunity to think big. Among the ideas put forward in the plan is the Hook: a sweeping waterfront park that would transform unused industrial spaces into a recreational and ecological resource. David Henning (MUP ’15) expressed hope that the AICP Student Project Award encourages such ambitious plans.

Said Henning, “Hopefully the award is an endorsement that even as a student you can work toward big plans while respecting and involving the community.”