Kaid Benfield Archive


Great work from Boston-based smart growth architects

Kaid Benfield

Posted May 15, 2008 at 4:59PM

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My friend David Dixon, and his Boston-based architecture firm, Goody Clancy, has been doing some fabulous smart growth work, and I’m here to give them a well-deserved pat on the back for it.  

I mention this because I’m off to Boston myself to speak at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Architects.  (I’m somewhat relieved, actually, that they didn’t strip my credentials after my blog post of a couple of weeks ago.  But seeing as how I’m participating in a session with David, a real star in the AIA, I figure I’m safe.)  

Let me cite just three examples of this firm’s great work:

a transit-oriented neighborhood visioned for the Fairmount/Indigo line (courtesy Goody Clancy)To begin, it’s really exciting to come across a vision as well-conceived as Goody Clancy’s plan for transit-oriented development around stops on the proposed new Fairmount/Indigo rail line running south of Boston.  The plan envisions four new stations serving low-income neighborhoods, dramatically increasing the corridor’s current level of public transportation service. 

The result, if the authorities approve, will be a smart-growth corridor with urban villages clustered around the new stops, affordable housing in compact development at the stations, mixed-use development, better access to jobs along the route and in central Boston, and a green corridor with improved access to parks, playgrounds and the Neponset River.  Goody Clancy also has advised neighborhood groups on working collaboratively with the local authority and on a strategic approach to obtaining funding from the state legislature.

The Fairmount/Indigo vision has won a Charter Award from CNU and an Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design from the AIA. 

along the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (courtesy Goody Clancy)Second, the firm has developed a plan to guide development for the historic Blackstone River Valley in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  As part of a study of the Blackstone National Heritage Corridor, Goody Clancy developed a strategy that takes advantage of the Valley’s assets to tell the story of the birth of the American industrial revolution, to preserve and enhance Valley communities, to balance conservation and growth while promoting recovery of the river, and to stimulate new economic opportunity.  

The Blackstone plan’s preparation involved a high degree of public participation to build political support among twenty communities and two states.  Background work included identifying the natural features and landscape values of the corridor, recommending strategies for their protection, restoration, and management, and providing a framework for local and regional decisions in land use planning and development.  

Finally, and moving out of New England and into the Midwest, Goody Clancy developed a revised master plan for Riverview, a mixed-income, mixed-use HOPE VI development in Cleveland.  HOPE VI is a terrific (if chronically underfunded) federal program that provides assistance for for replacing stressed below-market housing with new designs that are integrated into their communities rather than isolated from them as much affordable housing has been in this country.  In the case of Riverview, the money was available, but community opposition and feasibility issues related to earlier redevelopment proposals had blocked the housing authority from using its HOPE VI grant. The continued presence of 501 units of low-income elderly housing on the site also overwhelmed efforts to create a true, mixed-income community.


Riverview HOPE VI plan (courtesy Goody Clancy)  vision for Riverview HOPE VI project, Cleveland (courtesy Goody Clancy) 

Early in the process, Goody Clancy led an intensive multi-day charrette to formulate a new vision, which drew representatives from federal and local government, current and past public housing residents, local neighborhood residents, open space and park advocates, a local community development corporation, and developers. This charrette initiated an extensive community outreach program that included public meetings, an advisory committee, and regular newsletters. The ultimate result was widespread support for the new plan from the surrounding communities and public housing residents.  

The Riverview master plan, now in implementation, provides for the development of 573 units of mixed-income housing and retail on a twenty-acre site with substantial riverfront park space.  The plan won another Charter Award from CNU and an urban design award from the Boston Society of Architects.  

More on Goody Clancy’s planning and urban design work on their website.  If I’m going to be on a panel with these guys, my presentation had better be good.  Back to work on it.