GET READY HOLYOKE! Climate Preparedness 2050

This design studio focuses on Holyoke, the second-poorest city in Massachusetts and one of the 25 designated Gateway Cities. Sitting along the Connecticut River, Holyoke was the first designed industrial town in America, and thus has a fascinating infrastructure morphology of canals, hydroelectric dams, historic buildings, and warehouses. It also has a lively and diverse cultural scene that includes many from Puerto Rico as well as other first-generation climate refugees. The city’s leaders are young visionaries who wish to create a pathway to a resilient, adaptive city that can thrive as it responds to climate change and adapts to new ways of life, technologies, and practice. This studio will take us beyond this remit to include mitigation (decarbonization) as part of the design approach. As students focus on reshaping the landscape of Holyoke’s urban core, they will learn to research and understand climate impacts that the city will face in the near future of 2050.

Working collectively, the studio will first develop a Public Realm Master Plan that incorporates landscape-based design strategies along with new technologies that can be integrated to help generate ecosystem services. The design will use large-scale landscape principles and resilient, adaptive, and mitigative strategies and techniques. The resulting roadmap/vision for the master plan design will consider stormwater management, heat island effect, afforestation, flood mitigation, energy infrastructure, materials of high albedo, low-carbon, and allow surface water percolation, land use, future economies, transport, and public open space, as well as address cultural and social issues of economic and environmental equity. After establishing the master plan, each student will identify a critical site that exemplifies climate readiness, which may help the city in prioritizing such initiatives. Students will convey their ideas by using hand sketches, plan, section, illustrative drawings, physical models, and computer renderings, and will be introduced to two analytical landscape tools, i-Tree and the Carbon Calculator, both of which will test the effectiveness of their proposals for climate-positive design. The city of Holyoke’s goal for the future is to keep and attract people to Holyoke through making the city more livable and equitable through the evolution of the public realm landscape.

The outcome of this studio will be formatted in a book and projects will be exhibited in Holyoke for public display and discussion. The studio is open to the entire GSD community. There will be two field trips, to Holyoke and to New York City.

Note: This studio will meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Paola Sturla will be in residence for all classes. Martha Schwartz will be in residence on January 28, 29; February 18, 19; March 3, 4, 24, 25, 31; April 1, 7, 8, 21, 22. This studio will travel to Holyoke, Massachusetts, and New York City, New York.