21/19…old places, new paradigms

Frequently planners and designers are called upon to re-think current uses and imagine future possibilities for places that are underutilized and facing obsolescence. The City of New Bedford, Massachusetts is hoping to revitalize a 95-acre waterfront district near the downtown. The area includes some marvelous 19th century mill buildings, a small distressed residential enclave, vacant lots, brownfields and extremely low real estate values. Positive assets include its waterfront location, good highway access and a proposed inter-modal transportation center which will include commuter rail access. New Bedford is a historic city that was an important 19th century whaling port and later a center for the manufacture of textiles. At one time New Bedford was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. As a result, many fine structures were built there and some are located in this district. However, the city has been undergoing economic dislocation for many decades and innovative strategies need to be devised to bring new energy to the city and to this district.The goal of this studio will be to generate a series of alternative physical design and programmatic futures for the area ranging from the purely speculative, to a set of options that respond more directly to the recently (2004) articulated economic development strategy for the region. The scale of the district to be studied is such that there will be opportunities in the studio to develop overall master plan and urban design recommendations in addition to site specific landscape and architectural design proposals.The studio will stress interdisciplinary collaboration and is open to planners, urban designers, architects and landscape architects.The studio will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 6pm.