Union Square Plaza and Streetscapes

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Somerville’s Union Square is the social, cultural and spatial heart of the neighborhood. It is the city’s oldest commercial district as well as the historically significant location of a Union soldier recruiting station during the Civil War. It sits just below the site of the raising of the first American flag, the Grand Union Flag, on Prospect Hill during the American War for Independence. With a network of travel corridors leading to it, the plaza is the hub of Union Square, and the site of many festivals, events, and public activities. It is a square that has experienced waves of

Somerville’s Union Square is the social, cultural and spatial heart of the neighborhood. It is the city’s oldest commercial district as well as the historically significant location of a Union soldier recruiting station during the Civil War. It sits just below the site of the raising of the first American flag, the Grand Union Flag, on Prospect Hill during the American War for Independence. With a network of travel corridors leading to it, the plaza is the hub of Union Square, and the site of many festivals, events, and public activities. It is a square that has experienced waves of growth and decline and is positioned for a new phase of transformation.

The present configuration of Union Square Plaza took shape in the 1960’s when Washington Street was rerouted, and vehicles were removed from the central space. The reclaimed roadway space allowed for gatherings and events of all types. The Union Square streetscape and plaza project will expand on the work from the 60's to increase the plaza in order to become a distinguished civic plaza space and complete the adjoining streetscapes. This project aims to tackle the following questions and goals as well as bring forward new ideas:

• What is the right balance between travel lanes and plaza?

• How can the plaza design anchor a neighborhood while simultaneously embrace the future design of the D1, D5, D6 and D7 Parcels?

• The plaza shall accommodate a variety of gathering in both sun and shade, permanent and temporary, static and active.

• The design shall protect all people and make them feel safe at all times of the day throughout the year.

• Clearly articulate a design position for embracing, modifying, enhancing, or eliminating site features and seasonal programming of the plaza as it exists today, such as existing trees, existing parking, existing Arts Council installations, outdoor dining, markets and festivals.

• Utility design shall further the City’s goals of rehabilitating existing subsurface infrastructure, completing sewer separation, and better managing stormwater through the innovative use of Green Stormwater Infrastructure.

• The design shall celebrate and respect Union Square monuments and neighborhood history

• The design approach shall establish a construction narrative to identify the order of construction phasing to deliver a new plaza space. The complete narrative should consider traditional construction planning as well as implementing temporary tactical urbanism methods to keep our public spaces active during the full transformation.

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Page last updated: 25 October 2021, 10:46