The Northampton Design Forum and the Ward 3 Neighborhood Association hosted an urban design tour of Market and Hawley Streets last Sunday morning, August 9. Native son Aaron Helfand, recently graduated from the Notre Dame School of Architecture, led the tour. Participants learned about the historical features of several homes and discussed what makes for good or bad streetscapes.
From the tour publicity: “Our goal is to better understand this transition zone between downtown and our neighborhoods. We will identify what we like, what works, what could be improved. We will also improve our architectural and urban design vocabulary while gaining an understanding of basic design and planning concepts.”
Aaron circulated this handout (PDF, 198KB) to guide participants, of which the following is an excerpt:
Historical Style Guide to Western Massachusetts Houses:Market Street Videos
Georgian (1700-1790) Dominant style from colonial period. Most typically a symmetrical 5-bay façade with central door. Central chimney, double-hung windows with 12 panes of glass in each sash (these have frequently been replaced with larger-pane glass over time).
Federal (1790-1825) Very similar to Georgian in overall layout, but with more refined detailing, especially semi-circular or elliptical fan-lights over front door. Window and door trim is more delicate than in Georgian examples. Usually features a center hallway, so central chimney is replaced with a smaller one on either side. Windows originally would have been six panes over six, or sometimes still 12/12.
Greek Revival (1825-1850) Inspired by ancient Greek architecture, usually with front-facing gable articulated as a pediment (having either a full horizontal cornice or abbreviated returns in addition to the raking cornice of the gable), sometimes with columned portico. In many cases, corners are emphasized with heavy pilasters. Door surrounds tend to be quite robust and heavy, sometimes treated as an aedicule with pilasters, or as a small portico with collumns. Windows typically 6/6 or 2/2.
Gothic Revival (1840-1880) Popular Victorian style, easily identified by the use of pointed arches or flat Tudor arches (as in Northampton City Hall), and steeply pitched roofs.
Italianate (1850-1870) Another popular Victorian style, inspired by Italian villas. Generally characterized by very low-pitched roofs with wide overhangs, often supported by elaborate brackets. Sometimes asymmetrical with tower.
Second Empire (1855-1880) Common during and following the Civil War, inspired by contemporary architecture in France, especially Paris. Identifiable by the use of a Mansard roof (having a steep, sometimes curved lower pitch, usually with dormers, and a shallow upper pitch).
Queen Anne (1880-1910) Very common in Northampton, and quite variable in form. Almost always asymmetrical (‘picturesque’), with a variety of architectural features, such as projecting bays, gables, towers, porches. Frequently with elaborate and varied detailing, lending itself to complex paint schemes.
Colonial Revival (1890-1940) A return to the simplicity of early American architecture, with increasing attention to historical accuracy over time. Frequently more elaborate or refined than their 18th century source of inspiration.
Introduction. A Georgian house…
A Greek Revival house…
An Italianate house…
Approaching North Street… Transitioning to a more residential neighborhood, but still within walking distance of commercial areas. Room for a tree belt along the street. Home setbacks balance privacy and the public realm.
Back down closer to Bridge Street… Discussion of how mixed-use environments and architectural features (windows on the street) can reduce crime. Residents point out that many factors go into crime rates–Market Street has a higher rate of crime, for example, than more-residential North Street.
Hawley Street Videos
A Federal-style house…
A vernacular house… A brand-new house… Even a modest number of design elements (such as trim around the windows, the style of the doors) can help a house look good and contribute to the quality of its neighborhood. Elaboration is especially important with larger houses. Infill design guidelines can help…
Discussion of the Bixby Court condo infill development. Merits: It’s near downtown, it has front porches, there’s a certain degree of architectural articulation. Drawbacks: It’s situated on a short, dead-end street and only has houses on one side; it feels more like a private driveway than a public street.
Critique of the sites of Shu-Fix and Hampshire Educational Collaborative. Aaron prefers buildings to be more than one story tall and brought up to front the street, with parking placed in the rear. Buildings with a mix of uses (e.g. retail plus residential) have a better mix of activity throughout the day/night cycle–they don’t become deserted at the end of the workday. It is acknowledged that geologic conditions of sites (e.g. underground streams) can interfere with the ideal placement of a building on its lot. [There’s a gap of a few seconds around the 18-minute mark for camera changeover.]
Download Envisioning Sustainable Northampton – Final Notre Dame Studio Presentation Book
Envisioning Sustainable Northampton: Notre Dame Urban Design Presentation – Video and Handout
Our Ad in the May 6 Gazette: “How to Avoid Classic Infill Design Mistakes”
Knoxville Infill Housing Design Guidelines: Lessons from Experience
Portland Infill Design Strategies: Best Practices for Context-Sensitive Infill Design
Toronto Urban Design Guidelines: Infill Townhouses
Springfield Works on Infill Housing Design Guidelines; Residential Design Presentation by Dietz & Company
March 10: Zoning Revisions Committee to Meet; Our Suggestions
Condo Monotony: The Future of Ward 3?
The Condos at Bixby Court: A Closer Look
Good Cul-De-Sacs and Bad Ones
Smart Growth and Crime
Pictures of Northampton Streets at Various Densities
Final Sustainable Northampton Plan Now Ready to View
Portland: A Photo Tour of Spiraling Densification
Smart Growth vs. “Smart Growth”