Broad Street Parkway, Nashua


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Jun 24, 2010
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Jurors recently selected finalists in the Nashua International Design Competition, which was sponsored by the Nashua Board of Alderman and described as:
The NIDC is an urban design competition
that focuses on the Broad Street Parkway’s connection to the Tree Streets Neighborhood and the parkways impacts on the Nashua Millyard. Entrants are asked to submit entries for the intersection of (1) Central, Ledge, and Pine Streets and the southern terminus of the Broad Street Parkway and (2) Technology Way and the Broad Street Parkway. Submissions will also include a design for the streetscape of the parkway in the Millyard, designs for the connections of the parkway to the commercial/industrial properties in the Millyard, and proposals for innovative redevelopment opportunities for the currently under-utilized Millyard properties.

I don't know a ton about it, but the Broad Street Parkway is a proposed new street that will run along an old railroad line north of the Nashua River from Broad Street just east of the Everett Turnpike and cross the Nashua River into the Nashua Millyard. When I first heard about the plan, I thought it was yet another bad example of a quasi-highway tearing through buildings and bypassing neighborhoods. This design competition has made me reconsider that view--if done right and if some of the ideas generated are implemented, the new roadway could be a great enhancement to the neighborhood and change Nashua's Millyard from a dead-end to an integrated part of the city.

I wish I'd known about this competition long ago, and perhaps I would have been able to enter a submission along with a friend. But I'm not sure I could have come up with anything better than some of the ideas in the submissions.

I think the entries of the first two finalists shown are especially good, though elements from several others would complement the best of these two designs very well. I especially like the renderings in the first entry, which while less flashy than some of the others, show how a currently derelict area could become an extremely pleasant urban area with some renovations and just a few new buildings, along with realigning roads to run against buildings.


Entry 0001, Board 2


Entry 0005, Board 1

I was very disappointed to see that almost all the entries showed the replacement of the Labine Building at Ledge, Pine and Central Streets. Unfortunately, I've since found that the building burned down in 2010. It sounds like the city tried to save the building after the fire, but it wasn't salvageable. That's incredibly sad, as far too few buildings like this exist even in downtowns in New Hampshire, let alone as anchors of the neighborhoods around them. Still, I really wish more of the entrants scrapped the idea of a park there in favor of a similarly strong, urban anchor to that end of the parkway. With Mill Falls Park nearby and small parks proposed as part of every entry, there's really no need for more open space at such an important intersection.

I'd love to see Manchester's mayor and aldermen look into a competition like this to generate ideas for Manchester's Millyard (or at least the open spaces in it and its connection to Elm Street), the Gaslight District, or any of the several neighborhood centers awaiting revitalization. It's refreshing to see a city government take such an active role in soliciting bold ideas for improving its urban areas.
The top entry, entitled Boiler Green by Carl Pucci, has been named the winner of the Broad Street competition. That's exciting and encouraging, since I think it was the most ambitious and innovative, and probably the best from an pro-urban standpoint. I hope the city looks to implement some of the components of the design.

From the Union Leader article today about the announcement:

Pucci, an architect with the New York firm Bumpzoid, conceived the Boiler Green to bring the area’s underused mill buildings back to life and extend the Main St. neighborhood into the Millyard.

Pucci envisioned a “Broad Street Parkway not as a highway crash-landing among mill buildings but as an opportunity to restore an urban web of streets, parks, and dense use, woven seamlessly into the fabric of Nashua,” according to the proposal.

New water spans and an improved road network would enhance car traffic, establish new pedestrian and bicycle pathways, open up access to existing and new recreational space and spur future development, the proposal continues.

It also includes a museum, a fountain and commercial frontage.

Kathy Hersh, the city’s development director, said a number of Boiler Green’s concepts could be feasible.

“I think what would happen initially would be some of the pedestrian connections that they talked about,” she said. “There are elements of this proposal that you will see something of in the future.”
I knew about this, sorry if I didn't share it. But yeah, all the designs are cool looking. I think the city actually plans to put these into use. They plan to reroute Broad street along the river more (something about traffic and better flow) and mean time make the mill area more usable and livable.

Nashua is in some ways nicer than Manchester I feel. Number one, they actually do things like this and put effort into making their city nice. I enjoy walking around downtown more than Manchester. It reminds me more of Lowell versus Lawrence. Manchester being Lawrence. Nashua has nicer houses, nicer streets, and nicer more functional parks IMO. Example being their large park there has HUGE community gardens, while Manchester's community gardens are no bigger than my towns (Salem NH) which is sad being a larger city than Nashua. So good for Nashua for thinking forward.