Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NDF Invites Notre Dame Studio

On June 24, 2008, the “Northampton Design Forum” was formed under the umbrella of Available Potential Enterprises, Ltd (APE), a non-profit arts organization based in Northampton. The Design Forum consists of Northampton citizens interested in fostering quality urban design and sustainability. It has invited the University of Notre Dame Urban Design Studio here in September to advance that goal. The Notre Dame group will include six graduate students under the direction of Professor Philip Bess. They will spend a week engaging with the community and offering design recommendations that illustrate sustainability and traditional urban design.

“Design Northampton Week” will be held downtown at the new APE Space at 126 Main Street, where it will be highly visible and accessible to anyone who wants to participate. Additional meetings may occur in other locations to make it accessible to residents of these areas. The event will run continuously from September 7 – 13. The specific subject matter will emerge from conversations during the week, with no preconceived agenda other than illustration of quality urban design and sustainability. The goal is to engage and excite the community by offering opportunities for public participation, feedback, and informal give and take.

This effort will support and assist the City of Northampton in implementing the City’s Sustainability Plan by increasing public understanding and awareness of the importance of urban design. The week will start with an introductory presentation by Professor Bess, followed by ongoing formal and informal discussions of work in progress, focusing on drawings that bring to life many of the concepts in the Sustainability Plan. The Northampton Design Forum intends to involve all segments of the in Design Northampton Week, especially individuals and organizations who do not usually participate in City planning processes. The atmosphere will be relaxed, friendly, and enjoyable.

Joel Russell chairs the Northampton Design Forum organizing committee. Others currently on the committee include City Councilors Michael Bardsley and Robert Reckman and Planning Board member Katharine Baker, as well as Frances Volkmann, Wendy Foxmyn, Michael Kusek, Gordon Thorne, Michael DiPasquale, John Sinton, Tristram Metcalfe, Ira Helfand, Mari Gottdiener, Mary Kasper, and James Lowenthal.

Additional tasks the group will undertake over the summer include arranging for food for the team, publicizing the event through media and the internet, conducting outreach to businesses, institutions, neighborhood, ward, civic, youth, and other groups, and planning activities to make this event a festive celebration of Northampton. If you wish to help with the effort, or to be kept informed of progress in planning this event, please send an email to In your email, indicate whether you would like to help with any specific tasks.

1 Comment:

George said...

Wonderful opportunity! Now what does sustainable mean? Many things of course - green - environmentally friendly - etc. But they always fail to think about the disabled community. Are people from Stravos invited? The new police station is not sustainable because they put in steps and a ramp. Why?? Steps give the disabled community an image they do not like to see - feeling so unwelcome. They did put in a ramp but that's a bad afterthought! They say it's for security reasons which of course is a total bunk.
Let's hope that all new construction in northampton be overly friendly to everyone including the disabled and that's sustainable!