Completion Date: April 2014


Assembly Row, Somerville, United States
Copley Wolff Design Group, Inc.

The project has transformed an ecologically-degraded site along the Mystic River into a neighbourhood where New Englanders live, eat, work, and play in a pedestrian-friendly environment. When the developer set out to create this new neighbourhood, they understood the need for thoughtfully designed streetscapes, public spaces, and parks to engage visitors and compliment the other mixed-use opportunities. Landscape architecture was prioritized as a catalyst for community-oriented enhancements including pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, flexible spaces, and increased access to the waterfront. Phase 1 of the project involved the planning and design of Baxter Riverfront park and the creation of a new mixed-use development.

The park opened up 11 acres of waterfront to the public which has increased recreational use of the riverfront, provided opportunities for water-related activities, and encouraged the safeguarding of natural vegetation to prevent shoreline erosion. It has become a popular place with green space; an accessible overlook; an amphitheater; a playground; and a bike path extension connecting the regional bicycle network to public transportation.

The site design for the mixed-use development is comprised of streetscapes, a public plaza, ornamental plantings, shade trees, and sitting areas. These elements were designed to engage visitors, promote social interactions, and provide outdoor spaces for farmer’s markets, festivals, and relaxation. The streetscape design allows for safe travel by allowing pedestrians, bikes, and automobiles to share the streets with equal priority. This is achieved by the creative use of wide planting and amenity strips; curb extensions; cross walks with textural changes and paving patterns; and plant materials and lighting fixtures.

The project is significant because landscape architecture is used as an agent to development patterns to provide community benefit. By focusing on infill, this once-forgotten corner of Somerville is now a regional center where bikeway networks, recreation, housing, employment opportunities, public transportation, and commerce converge.

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