Saturday, May 15, 2010
The process of turning Shawsheen Village, in Andover, Mass., into a walkable community was well and truly begun last Sunday, May 9, at a charette sponsored by the chapter. Eight members met at the offices of Albert, Righter & Tittmann near Downtown Crossing, in Boston. Participating were Ivan Bereznicki, Adam Bonosky, David Brussat, Eric Daum (who lives in Shawsheen Village and is spearheading the effort), Aaron Helfand, Michael Maloof, Michael Tyrrell and Hal Wuertz. The New England ICA&CA chapter is joined by the regional chapter of the Congress of the New Urbanism in pursuing this project. The town of Andover has been cooperative in getting us started and will be brought in again as the project matures.
At the outset, we discussed issues such as the phasing of such a project, whether to focus on the square or the areas east of the Shawsheen River, whether to consider parking mandates as delimiting our plans, whether green space around the village square was sacrosanct, and, overall, whether our plans should reflect the best vision that we could imagine or the best we believed was possible to accomplish. We decided that we should plan as we thought best and allow reality to set in, if required, at later stages of the process.
We then divided into three groups to pursue alternative plans. The groups consisted of Daum, Maloof and Wuertz; Bereznicki and Helfand; Tyrrell and Bonofsky. This reporter, who is drawing impaired, hovered over each group in turn to observe the work. (Each group’s conception is briefly described below and followed by a photo of its work.)
* The Bereznicki/Helfand group focused on areas of the village east of the Shawsheen, and developed a pedestrian way that crossed a new bridge, proceeded east among new buildings and concluded in a new public plaza between the two massive American Woolen mill buildings. Other new development was slated for Haverhill Street, concluding near the railroad station.
* The Tyrrell/Bonofsky group focused on the area of the square, filling the parking lot between the Post Office and the Aberdeen condo building with an arcaded retail/restaurant structure whose diners would look across Main Street at a new, semicircular, colonnaded public square from which a pedestrian walkway would cross the river and slant slightly southeastward. Bonofsky sketched a view from the square up this walkway. (See image at bottom.)
* The Daum/Maloof/Wuertz group turned the square into a circular public plaza edged in part by the northernmost of two large buildings at the north and south ends of the park. From the circle there emerged a new retail/residential axis that crossed the river and headed east on Haverhill.
After gathering to listen to each group describe its plan, the charette members vowed to meet next June 6 to consolidate the three plans into one. That charette will also be held at 8 Winter St., in Boston, just off the Downtown Crossroads intersection. The chapter invites outside participation. For more information, e-mail Eric Daum at firstname.lastname@example.org