Beyond Walls: Building on the Vibrancy of Lynn
Parke MacDowell, AIA, Al Wilson, Mark Deveau, Ron Kuszmar, Scott Ellis, and Dan Weissman, AIA
By focusing on improving the pedestrian experience, the project uses an inherently accessible and egalitarian platform to build long-term civic improvements for all Lynn residents regardless of socio-economic status.
Lynn, MA has faced challenging economic, demographic, and perceptual circumstances, for decades. Poor visibility in the dark underpasses beneath the rail line downtown produces a disproportionate amount of crime and vehicle/pedestrian accidents.
As part of the "Districts in Development" initiative in 2016, MassDevelopment authored a Downtown Action Plan for the city of Lynn that succinctly stated, "Downtown Lynn has a need for place—specific designs for public spaces, streets, & potential development sites that can be implemented quickly: How can we attract new investment by physically improving Downtown Lynn?"
Neighborhood meetings and feedback from residents and business owners revealed a desire for more specific public art and more light on the underpasses and the sidewalks to increase walkability. The community made it clear that they believed art could make downtown safer and improve local commerce. In this spirit, civic-minded locals established the place-making non-profit Beyond Walls and began a campaign focused on three key urban interventions: Street Murals, Vintage Neon Sign Art and Dynamic Underpass Lighting. The $1.5M project was funded by gifts, grants, and in-kind labor and equipment donations and culminated in the opening of the Dynamic Underpass Lighting in the summer of 2018