U.S. Premier of Regional Planning Exhibit Envisions Holyoke’s Utopian Past and Sustainable Future

HOLYOKE, Mass. – The Paper City is going post-oil as part of a Gateway City Arts project being presented through Oct. 31 by the landscape architecture and regional planning department (LARP) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in conjunction with the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa), and the Goethe-Institut Boston.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse will be on hand on Saturday, Sept. 7 to celebrate the grand opening of the exhibit, which draws on past utopian ideas about the industrial city of Holyoke and contrasts them with current sustainable urban planning projects. The opening event at the Gateway City Arts Building at 92-114 Race St. runs 2-5 p.m.

As part of the exhibit, visitors will have a chance to consider how the problems caused by climate change, a limited supply of fossil fuels, and economic recession can be addressed through creative urban and regional planning techniques. Exhibits use visually interesting models, pictures, and graphics to show how great planning can contribute to great cities.

The organizers chose to hold the exhibit in Holyoke for several reasons, according to LARP instructor Michael DiPasquale. The exhibit has been featured in several other cities internationally, but the Holyoke event is the United States premier.

“Holyoke, as one of the original industrial planned cities, is a great example of how history and redevelopment can come together to create really exciting, sustainable cities,” said DiPasquale. “Great urban planning is for everyone, and we wanted to make the exhibit accessible beyond the UMass community. Plus, the Gateway City space is absolutely spectacular.”

DiPasquale also said that the Gateway City space highlights the reuse potential of a beautiful existing building and is adjacent to the city’s historic canal system.

“These are the kinds of settings that make cities like Holyoke so valuable and on the forefront of sustainable design,” he said.

Also taking part in the exhibit’s design projects are UMass Amherst graduate students.

“As a future planner, it’s fantastic to have all these ideas so accessible to me. I’m hoping this exhibit will inspire communities to commit to sustainable growth,’ said Brandon Gibbs, a first year student in the regional planning program at UMass Amherst.

The free exhibit will remain open noon-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31.

Sponsors of the exhibit include the American Planning Association Massachusetts Chapter, Smith College landscape studies, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst, and Lori Devine and Vitek Kruta, owners of Gateway City Arts.