This past year Assistant Professor Darrel Ramsey-Musolf supervised two Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Studio projects in Springfield, MA. After completing an assignment that evaluated the land-use elements of municipal master plans, teams of LARP graduate students worked with the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club and Develop Springfield as part of their required master’s degree course work.
“The goal of Planning Studio is to develop a student’s techniques for collecting, analyzing, synthesizing spatial and non-spatial data and presenting that collective data in a way that is understandable to academics, professionals, and the public,” says Ramsey-Musolf, who adds that this can be a report, video, presentation, and/or charettes. “Planning Studio allows students to integrate knowledge from coursework and research and apply such knowledge to resolving representative planning problems that are found in neighborhood, rural, urban, and/or regional settings.”
For a Vision for the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club, the studio team of six students was tasked with helping the newly invigorated nonprofit rowing club write a plan that implements their vision and expands their programs over the next five years. Historically, the rowing club had been an organization with a small budget and devoted following. Recently, the organization experienced an influx of revenue in the form of a $300K public health grant from CDC, the same grant this is under evaluation by Professors Puleo and Carbone in the Department of Nutrition. This new budget presents opportunities for organizational prosperity and sustainability, and the Studio Team provided strategies to sustain the organization. Results of the project can be viewed here and here.
For Develop Springfield, a studio team of nine students worked on the Revitalization of the Lower Worthington Street District, the area that was devastated by the November 2012 gas explosion. Their charge was to deliver well-researched suggestions for initial strategies that could revive this area into a 24-hour, trendy, market-rate neighborhood that would attract young professionals seeking both residential amenities and a walkable, urban lifestyle. Methods for preserving diversity and including current residents were key considerations for the report’s authors. Goals included providing current residents with opportunities to join in the economic benefits of revitalization and avoiding the typical trade-off of displacement as growth increases. The conceptual plan, which can be viewed here and here, is now a reference for both Develop Springfield and their subsequent consultant, Utile.
“As a former municipal planner, my goal was to find projects that introduced the constraints of planning, upheld LARP’s academic standards, and allowed the students to work together collaboratively, says Ramsey-Musolf. “Luckily, Extension Assistant Professor Michael DiPasquale, founder of the Design Center in Springfield, introduced me to Scott Hansen, principal planner for Springfield, who then located these great urban opportunities. In fall 2014, the Planning Studio will explore community revitalization in Athol, Chicopee, and Winchendon.”