A mixed-use proposal for historic Massachusetts site wins first place in affordable housing competition

Perspectival image of garden and colored townhouses in the background

The Lancaster Commons proposal includes plans for a community garden.

Historic Image of schoolchildren gathered at the Industrial School for Girls
Young girls at the Industrial School for Girls, 1903 (credit: Harvard Art Museums)

Lancaster Commons, a project proposed by a team of Harvard Graduate School of Design and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate students, won first place in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston 21st Annual Affordable Housing Development Competition.

The students, listed below, proposed a multiphase mixed-use project that reactivates a rural and historic site in Lancaster, Massachusetts. The 80-acre site, located in the oldest town in Worcester County, was previously occupied by the Lancaster Industrial School for Girls, the first reform school for girls in North America. Although they proposed an overall masterplan, the team’s project focuses on Phase One, which contains 48 affordable townhouse rental units that promote intergenerational communities and supportive programming and amenities. The design contains various layouts to accommodate and support diverse households with varied living arrangements. At an urban scale, the proposal creates a new center for Lancaster in support of its historical legacy while looking forward to more contemporary urban uses and community engagement.

Lancaster Commons Team Members:

  • Jiae Azad, Master in Urban Planning, 2021, Harvard GSD
  • Angela Blume, Master in Architecture, 2022, Harvard GSD
  • Cassie Gomes, Master in Architecture, 2022, Harvard GSD
  • Andrea Grimaldi, Master in City Planning, 2021, MIT 
  • Mengyao Li, Master in Urban Planning, 2022, Harvard GSD
  • Mora Orensanz, Master in City Planning, 2021, MIT
  • Jiwon Park, Master in Urban Planning, 2022, Harvard GSD
  • Sharon Velasquez, Master in City Planning & Master in Business Administration, 2022, MIT