Notre Dame Urban Design Studio Project Slated for September 7-13

A new group, the Northampton Design Forum, released this announcement today:

On Tuesday, 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, whose members include Northampton citizens interested in fostering quality urban design, decided to invite the Notre Dame University Urban Design Studio here in September. The Notre Dame group will consist of six graduate students led by Professor Philip Bess, who described the program at a public presentation held on June 2. The students will spend a week engaging with the community and offering design recommendations following the principles of sustainability and traditional urban design.

The September event will be held downtown at the new APE Gallery 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 easier for residents to participate. This “design festival” is intended to be an enjoyable way of engaging people in a continuous interactive process running from September 7-13. The goal is to generate excitement about urban design and sustainability, offering opportunities for public participation, feedback, and informal give and take. This 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 include ongoing formal and informal discussions of work in progress, focusing on drawings that bring to life many of the recommendations in the Sustainability Plan. The Northampton Design Forum intends to involve all segments of the community, especially businesses, institutions, minorities, and citizens who do not usually participate in City planning processes.

The Design Forum selected Joel Russell to be its Chair, local spokesperson, and liaison with Notre Dame. Members 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, and James Lowenthal.

The Northampton Design Forum’s first task is to raise money for the project to cover expenses of the design team. Contributions are tax deductible and can be sent to A.P.E Ltd, 126 Main Street, Northampton, MA 01060. Please write on the check’s memo line the words “Notre Dame Design”.

Additional tasks the group will undertake include arranging for food, lodging, transportation and supplies 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 exciting festival activities to make this event a celebration of Northampton. The Forum will establish subcommittees in July to work on these tasks with volunteer assistance. If you are excited about helping with the effort, or if you wish to be 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. A website announcing more information is currently under development.


Joel Russell, Chair
Northampton Design Forum
25 Kensington Avenue
Northampton, MA 01060

See also:

Video: Notre Dame Urban Design Studio Presentation

Notre Dame Pitches Urban Design Studio to Northampton