Union Studio: Proposed Waterfront Master Plan for Newburyport, MA

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After months of heated discussion, public input, and careful consideration, the proposed Newburyport Waterfront Master Plan was received with public applause on 9/12/12. Union Studio Architecture & Community Design completed the plan for the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA), who owns 4.2 acres of waterfront land surrounding a public park in the town's downtown commercial district. The NRA hired Union Studio to help develop a vision for the property, which would be the basis for a "Request for Proposals" for development of the vacant land. Ultimately, the solution needs to balance viable economic development opportunity with the public's enjoyment of this special waterfront open space. For more information, visit http://unionstudioarch.com/news-and-ideas/46-firm-events/147-newburyport-proposed-plan

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Union Studio: Proposed Waterfront Master Plan for Newburyport, MA

  1. 1. The Newburyport Waterfront Asset, Opportunity, Challenge Proposed Master Plan September 12, 2012 The NewburyportThe City Of Newburyport Redevelopment Authority
  2. 2. DONALD W. POWERS, AIA, LEED AP Founding Principal Education Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Graduate School of Design Masters of Architecture University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA School of Architecture B.S. Architecture - Awarded Annual Design PrizeProfessional AffiliationsBoard of Directors, Grow Smart Rhode IslandMember, Congress for New the New Urbanism (CNU)Board of Directors, CNU | New England ChapterFounding Board Member, Institute for Classical Architecture | New England ChapterForm Based Zoning Subcommittee–Committee Chairman, City of Providence ZoningCommissionExecutive Committee & Program Co-Chair, CNU XIV Providence (held in June of 2006)
  3. 3. Union Studio was founded in 2001 with one overriding goal: to use our skills asarchitects and urban designers to make a civic contribution to communities of alltypes.
  4. 4. Why is Union Studio Here?
  5. 5. To explore the possibilities of enhancing City’s waterfront... & its connection to the City
  6. 6. Our understanding of goals and issues comes from review of 30 years of public record and from our own public workshop in June.
  7. 7. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  8. 8. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  9. 9. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  10. 10. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  11. 11. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  12. 12. Our understanding of the world and why it would matter: Town Center Union Studio views the built world through the lens of “The Transect”A spectrum of place types, each with their own “rules.”
  13. 13. Newburyport’s Downtown falls within the Town Center Transect Zone:
  14. 14. Also applies to our Open Spaces. Spectrum of appropriate types from most informal and undefined (natural) to mostformal and enclosed (man-made) based on Transect Zone
  15. 15. Newburyport’s park and waterfront fall within the Town Center Zone……which gives insight into to what may be appropriate here and what might not.
  16. 16. Previous session (end of June) did not propose adesign, but offered some food for thought as the design team began. “What is appropriate here?” “Should development happen on the waterfront side of Merrimac?” “If no, why not?” “If yes, how much?” “And of what type?”
  17. 17. Historic Views (ca. 1880’s)
  18. 18. A vibrant, well connected waterfront, but by 1960 large parts unsightly and blockingviews. Blight – waterfront cut off, buildings derelict
  19. 19. Urban Renewal &The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority
  20. 20. Pre- and Post Urban Renewal
  21. 21. Because of Urban Renewal, Newburyport’s use of thewaterfront is much different from prevailing pattern in otherseaport cities
  22. 22. Mix of Public & Private functions re-using working piers
  23. 23. Development and recreation at water’s edge.
  24. 24. The waterfront park as “retreat” separate and removed from “The City” Works in “opposition” to the city.Requiresconsiderable“depth” to retreatinto. Offers onlyone kind ofrecreation.
  25. 25. For Newburyport this is both unique opportunity and challenge: Chance for place of retreat, but also connection to the City.
  26. 26. Currently works in multiple interesting ways as “meander” and as “gathering place, but could do both better.Well loved byresidents andvisitors, but thereare opportunities tomake it more so.
  27. 27. Three kinds of park space:• Centralized, focal, gatheringspace• Informal buffer space• Linear/circulation (Boardwalk)
  28. 28. Edges of the main public space are made primarily by pathways and a loose edge of landscape.Working in spiteof the physicallayout and lack ofenclosure.
  29. 29. Centralized, focal, gathering space…but landscape buffer is diffuse andtoo thin to really enclose the space.
  30. 30. In spite of these weak edges, thespace has such a strong focal pointthat it works.Can it work better??
  31. 31. The way it currently works suggestshow it might be improved. Architecture in this case helps to create the sense of the place and make it function as an “outdoor room”.
  32. 32. Edge space, circulation, boardwalk
  33. 33. Is pleasant in part because of the enclosure offered by the berm. Creates a kind of a linear room with the focal point to the water.
  34. 34. But enclosure is incomplete. Gravel parking lots are very much part of the experience of the waterfront.
  35. 35. Multiple opportunities for visual and pedestrianconnections, but most are weak or incomplete.How can they be improved?
  36. 36. Very little mix of uses within park exceptthe Firehouse Café. Is there opportunity formore?
  37. 37. Only instance of development fronting the park is successful and adds to use of park.
  38. 38. Connection to DowntownFirehouse Market Square
  39. 39. Physical and Regulatory Framework is very complex and limiting  Physical  Environmental  RegulatoryChapter 91, The Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act
  40. 40. Chapter 91 – Water Dependent Use Zone• No Nonwater-Dependent Use Structures Allowed• Setbacks Range from 75’ to 100’ from MHW• Includes 0.8 Acres of Parcel Area Mean High Water Historic Low Water 94’ Mark (1804) 100’ 75’ 82’ DEP Presumptive Line
  41. 41. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  42. 42. Opportunity to increase enjoyment ofwater’s edge in more ways AND screenparking
  43. 43. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  44. 44. Imagine if some of Main Street turned its face to thepark...Rather than turning its back on the park?
  45. 45. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  46. 46. Goals:a. Enlarge park / civic space while preserving an appropriate amount of improved parkingb. Improve and enrich the experience of the park without “commercializing the waterfront.”c. Maintain access and views to the waterfront park for all – but make more inviting all year round.d. Find a way forward which is self funding and sustainable.
  47. 47. SUSTAINABILITY FISCAL ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMIC SOCIAL
  48. 48. • Waterfront Views Preserved and “framed” to minimize impact of parking• Enhanced “Connections” of the downtown to the waterfront• Main Street doesn’t turn its back on this exceptional asset• Better park, better downtown
  49. 49. What may be appropriate here and what might not.
  50. 50. Proposed Master Plan - Design Process
  51. 51. Existing Condition
  52. 52. 1. Newburyport Redevelopment Authority Parcels
  53. 53. 2. Shared Access
  54. 54. 2. Shared Access
  55. 55. 3. Regulatory Setbacks
  56. 56. 3. Regulatory Setbacks
  57. 57. 4. Voluntary Setback
  58. 58. 4. Voluntary Setback
  59. 59. 5. Ferry Wharf Way – Existing Right of Way
  60. 60. 5. Ferry Wharf Way – Most Direct
  61. 61. 5. Ferry Wharf Way – Most Direct
  62. 62. 6. Riverside Park
  63. 63. 6. Riverside Park
  64. 64. 7. Views
  65. 65. 7. Views
  66. 66. –8. Building Frontage Relationship between Buildings
  67. 67. 8. Building Frontage – Merrimac Street
  68. 68. 8. Building Frontage – Framing the Park
  69. 69. 9. Building Massing – Respect for Context
  70. 70. 9. Building Massing – Respect for Context
  71. 71. 9. Building Massing – Respect for Context
  72. 72. Retail
  73. 73. Retail
  74. 74. 9. Building Massing – Respect for Context
  75. 75. 10. Distribution of Parking / Open Space
  76. 76. Final Master Plan
  77. 77. Final Master Plan
  78. 78. Opportunities Diagram From June Presentation
  79. 79. Proposed Master Plan -Open Space & Connections
  80. 80. `Open Space
  81. 81. Existing +/- 3.7 acres Overall 30% increase Proposed +/- 4.8 acresOpen Space
  82. 82. Boardwalk Berm Rail Boardwalk Park Park TrailOpen Space
  83. 83. Connections / Circulation – Rail Trail
  84. 84. Connections / Circulation – Ways to the Waterfront
  85. 85. Connections / Circulation – Ways Across the Site
  86. 86. Connections / Circulation – Overall Network
  87. 87. Proposed Master Plan - Scale and Character
  88. 88. Architectural Context – Building Scale
  89. 89. 3 Stories 2 Stories Retail Retail Stories Stories 3.5 3.5 Retail RetailArchitectural Context – Building Disposition
  90. 90. Unit Unit Unit Unit Unit Unit Unit Unit Retail Retail Parking Parking Waterfront ParkSite Section
  91. 91. Architectural Character
  92. 92. Landscape Character
  93. 93. Proposed Master Plan - Rendered Views
  94. 94. Perspective Views – Aerial looking from Merrimack River towards Merrimac Street
  95. 95. Perspective – Aerial looking from Merrimac Street Looking Towards MerrimackRiver
  96. 96. Perspective – Eye Level looking From Merrimac Street Towards Merrimack River,Firehouse Café on Right.
  97. 97. • Waterfront Views Preserved and “framed” to minimize impact of parking• Enhanced “connections” of the downtown to the waterfront• Main Street doesn’t turn it’s back on this exceptional asset• Make the waterfront a “year round” amenity• Better park, better downtown• Find a way to fulfill all these objectives in a way that is fiscally attainable and sustainable
  98. 98. QuestionsPerspective Views – Aerial looking from Merrimack River towards MerrimacStreet

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