Tag: wayfinding

Neighborhood View – “Frank Stella: An iconic artist returns home”

Neighborhood View – “Frank Stella: An iconic artist returns home”

Neighborhood View: “Frank Stella: An iconic artist returns home

In 2012, local artist and Malden resident Sharon Santillo reached out to Stella to reconnect with his hometown. As the chairperson on the newly formed Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Walkability, Santillo came up with the idea of  incorporating Stella’s artwork into wayfinding signs throughout the city; these signs tell how long a walk it is to key city destinations.

“I contacted his office requesting copyright permission and at first his office was unclear on what I was asking,” said Santillo. “So I sent him a mock-up of the idea using downloaded images of his artwork. I know the copyright rules, so I was holding my breath that they would understand it was just for them to get a visual!” She was thrilled that her efforts over many months resulted in a resounding “yes” from the artist, granting permission, free of charge.

At the WalkBoston “Golden Shoe” ceremony. From left: Sharon Santillo, artist/Malden activist; Frank Stella; Wendy Landman, WalkBoston Executive Director; and Gary Christenson, Mayor of Malden. (Photo by Paul Hammersley, 3MG)

When the signs received recognition from WalkBoston for being the first to combine fine art with wayfinding, Santillo again reached out to the artist to invite him to the “Golden Shoe Award” ceremony at MIT. (The New England Resource and Development Center at MIT holds several of Stella’s works in its gallery collection.) To her great surprise and delight, he accepted the invitation and attended the ceremony where he was presented with his own Golden Shoe. A cadre of Malden arts enthusiasts came out for the event and met with Stella, including Dora St. Martin, the Executive Director of the Malden Public Library.

Posted November 9, 2018

#WBSignTest comes to an end

#WBSignTest comes to an end

Thank you to the staff members from the Downtown Boston BID for removing our faded wayfinding decal from the top of Pi Alley today. We installed this as a prototype in June 2016, and gathered feedback from people walking by through email and social media using the Twitter hashtag #WBSignTest. This lasted much longer than we expected: it had a good run!

Town of Lenox on the move

Town of Lenox on the move

By Gwen Miller/Land Use Director & Town Planner, Lenox 

Lenox, in the Berkshires, has just over 5,000 residents. It is largely rural with a small downtown, parks, public art, great restaurants, Tanglewood, The Mount/Edith Wharton’s Home. In Lenox, you get the small-town vibe but big-city culture.

Residents want to stay in Lenox as they age. Millennials across the country are opting to live in traditionally dense, accessible neighborhoods. So in the past year, Lenox has embraced walkability and adopted a Complete Streets policy. The process started by conducting two walk audits with WalkBoston and working with local partners to install “pop-up” Complete Street interventions. Working with Age Friendly Berkshires, the town installed two temporary curb extensions on Main Street and ordered “WalkYourCity” signs directing residents and visitors to destinations such as Tanglewood, Shakespeare and Co., restaurants, and playgrounds.

Getting decision makers and stakeholders into the neighborhood has been a big “win.” Seeing is believing. The “pop-up” curb extensions were a low-cost and very effective tool to demonstrate how to slow down car traffic and give walkers better visibility and more ability to be seen.

During one Walk Audit, a Board of Selectmen member joined us. Noting an inaccessible curb ramp, the group stopped to took stock. The Selectmen asked the Department of Public Works Superintendent and Town Planner to fix the ramp before the current repaving project ended. It got fixed that week.

Partnerships, walk audits, temporary, low-cost installations all make what often seem like lofty or challenging goals and solutions, seem doable. You leverage resources and expertise, and get feedback immediately.

We plan to submit our curb extension project as part of our Complete Streets Tier III funding request. This project makes the street safer for all users and we know we have support after testing and educating people about the benefits.

This effort has been positive due to the many partnerships including WalkBoston, Mass in Motion, Be Well Berkshires, MassDOT Complete Streets Program, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Age Friendly Berkshires, the Department of Public Works, and members of the Board of Selectmen.

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s October 2017 newsletter.
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Wayfinding report

Wayfinding report

Our experience shows that wayfinding projects can be adapted to meet the needs of diverse communities at different scales. Follow-up evaluation surveys we conducted in Turners Falls and Fall River suggest that wayfinding signs are a highly visible and tangible measure that can catalyze community interest in walking.

Codman Square (Dorchester/Boston)
Downtown Boston
Fall River
Montague (Turners Falls)

To learn more about these projects and our methodology for implementation, download our summary wayfinding report.

Read the full report:

Comment on EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly

Comment on EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly

November 23, 2016

Matthew Beaton, Secretary
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: MEPA Office
Analyst: Holly Johnson
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114

RE: EENF for The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly – MEPA #15595

Dear Mr. Beaton,

WalkBoston is a 501©(3) non-profit, pedestrian advocacy organization that makes walking safer and easier in Massachusetts. We have reviewed the EENF and offer the comments below.

The Office and Research Center and the Residences at Assembly is located on a 9-acre site at 5 Middlesex Avenue, Somerville, in close walking proximity to Assembly Station and to existing residential areas of East Somerville. It is planned to become an integral feature of the massive developments already taking shape in Assembly Square. Phase 1 of the proposed Project includes a 188-room hotel, and a 147-unit residential building with 6,000 sf of retail space on the ground floor. Later phases will include offices and residential units. The total space to be constructed within the site may reach 2,000,000 sq ft.

We are concerned that the proponent has not offered significant changes to the walking environment, except on its own site. The nearby Kensington Underpass, one of two connections between residential Somerville and the many worksites and attractions, should become its focus for improvements. The proponent has suggested a U-turn that would complicate pedestrian crossings at the underpass. The proponent should be required to develop improvements for pedestrians and vehicles at the underpass in an integrated way.

Recognizing the advantages of being located in the large Assembly Square complex of developments, the proponent notes that walking and bicycling through Assembly Square and on the paths along the Mystic River will be encouraged. The proponent also emphasizes the access provided to the site by public transportation not only at the new Orange Line rapid transit station, but also on bus lines located nearby on Route 38 and on Broadway in East Somerville. Access to public transit gives significant advantages to the proponent’s proposed complex of both office and residential units that can take advantage of the transportation services concentrated in the environs.

The proponent’s plan includes on-site pedestrian facilities and a plaza in the center of the development. The proponent vows that improvements to pedestrian and bicycling facilities will ensure security and comfort for those walking and biking. Part of these improvements will be a significant wayfinding element that will direct site visitors and users toward significant destinations, show walking times, and including public transportation services. The proponent also hopes to link the fabric of this new district to neighboring East Somerville.

The Assembly Square complex has already established pedestrian facilities throughout the property and highlights the riverside park and paths that make up a substantial pedestrian network. The proponent’s site will be able to take advantage of those improvements and link into them at appropriate locations.

The basic link between this site and East Somerville is the neglected underpass of I-93 at Kensington Street, which has not been updated since the construction of the highway. The proponent should take a leading role in the upgrading of this underpass, to bring to life the proponent’s laudable goal of a more appropriate connection into the surrounding community. Improvements to the underpass would bring about:
1. Improved pedestrian connections from East Somerville into the Assembly Square shopping area to reach proliferating new shopping, entertainment and work locations.
2. Improved pedestrian connections from the East Somerville neighborhoods to the new Orange Line rapid transportation station at Assembly Square.
3. A wayfinding network for pedestrians finding their way into and through the complex set of developments at Assembly Square.
4. Improved pedestrian connections both from Assembly Square as well as the East Somerville neighborhoods to the public transportation routes along Route 38, where bus stops are closer than the Assembly Square Orange Line Station.
5. Clear routes for access from Assembly Square to the major grocery store as well as commercial and public sites such as the library along Broadway in East Somerville.
6. A walking route for residents of East Somerville and people in Assembly Square for recreation and healthy daily activities.
7. Implementation of major goals of the City of Somerville’s “Somervision” program which looks to increase active and alternative transportation options, reduce congestion and promote workplace- and business-based policies and incentives to encourage changes in more choice and to expand bike, pedestrian and public transit use.

Improving the Kensington Underpass by itself is insufficient to protect users. The underpass, which connects East Somerville to Assembly Square near the intersection of McGrath Highway, Fellsway, Route 38 and the I-93 southbound onramp, has two at-grade street crossings where pedestrians must cross heavily traveled routes. The two crossings have painted crosswalks and pedestrian-actuated yellow flashing warning lights. More detailed analysis should be undertaken to assess the current levels of safety for people crossing at this location. Projections of future pedestrian traffic should be undertaken to analyze whether what level of additional safety measures might be appropriate.

Of special concern is the proposal by the proponent of this project that there should be a U-turn that would allow traffic from Assembly Square and this project to use the westbound service road along I-93 (called Bailey Road) to reach a point where it could u-turn into the eastbound service road near Route 28 to provide better access from Assembly Square to I-93 southbound. This would, according to the proponent help by “allowing vehicles to bypass two signals, thereby alleviating congestion.”  The U-turn would provide, in essence, a fourth option for exiting the complex and reaching I-93 southbound.

However, with the addition of this U-turn, people trying to cross at the Kensington Underpass crosswalk will always be faced with oncoming traffic at both eastbound and westbound service roads leading into and out of the U-turn. The addition of traffic to the two service roads is a problem for the pedestrians using existing Kensington underpass should be analyzed in terms of any improvements that may be made to increase its use.

Several options might be explored to alleviate this difficulty. One would be to reduce both service roads on either side of I-93 to one lane, so that drivers would not be tempted to bypass a driver who is yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk. That option might be sufficient to retain the un-signalized crosswalk.

We appreciate your consideration of our comments.

Best regards,

Bob Sloane
Senior Planner

Brendan Kearney
Communications Manager

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