Future Landscapes
Lower Locks - Pawtucket and Eastern canals, Concord River

Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative

cinemagraph, visualization

In August 2016 I started working with Solomon Office to produce visuals for an exciting urban waterways action plan that would see the historic canals and buildings of Lowell, Massachusetts given new life through the activation of the public realm. The visuals were meant to give life to the urban vision and bring more public engagement to the process by showing the potential of these rich historic amenities. 

The production of the action plan was a truly collaborative, community driven project and the resulting report will help guide future development for the benefit of the residents, putting accessible, high quality public spaces at the forefront.

Client: Solomon Office / Lowell Heritage Partnership
Role: Graphic Direction, Visualization + Post-Production
Location: Lowell, Massachusetts
Date: 2016
Published: Waterways Action Plan, Lowell Sun News

All images and adapted text property of SOLOMON OFFICE.

Lower Locks - Pawtucket and Eastern canals, Concord River

Lower Locks - Pawtucket and Eastern canals, Concord River

The Pawtucket Canal was originally built as a transportation canal in 1796 to route goods around the Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River. But with the construction of the Lower Locks in 1823, the canal was incorporated into a water control system to power mills.

Today, the spectacular setting is framed by the downtown campus of Middlesex Community College and the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. The presence of two institutions of higher education offers a wealth of opportunities for active use as well as options for regular and special events.

Merrimack Canal - Lucy Larcom Park (Summer)

Merrimack Canal - Lucy Larcom Park (Summer)

The Merrimack Canal once generated power for Lowell’s largest mill. The loss of adjacent boarding houses is credited with starting the city’s preservation movement. The centrally located downtown park on occasion is filled with displays, vendors, and people such as during the Lowell Folk Festival and Winterfest.

Bounded by the Merrimack Canal and adjacent to Lowell High School, with an historic trolley passing along the canal bank, Lucy Larcom Park can be a highly active gathering place year-round. Additionally, the park may be expanded to the north side of the canal on a temporary basis for festivals and events.

Merrimack Canal - Lucy Larcom Park (Winter)

Merrimack Canal - Lucy Larcom Park (Winter)

The Merrimack Canal has great four-season potential. This includes the possibility of skating on the canal, on artificial surfaces, or on nearby skating paths as seen recently on Boston’s Government Center Plaza. An illuminated gatehouse and family-friendly features will complement the City of Lowell’s lighting of the canal and other park upgrades.

Hamilton Canal Innovation District - Pawtucket, Hamilton & Merrimack Canals

Hamilton Canal Innovation District - Pawtucket, Hamilton & Merrimack Canals

The City’s ambitious economic development plans include several large structures and an area for a parking garage. The Commonwealth is building a $200 million trial court at the eastern edge of the district. UMass Lowell has moved into 110 Canal Street, establishing an Innovation Hub and Medical Device Development Center.

The adjacent Utopian Park has shown its potential with nighttime events (food trucks, performers, and more) organized by Made in Lowell. On September 1, 2016, the Lowell Heritage Partnership, City officials, and community collaborators produced a spectacular one-night lighting display complete with entertainment, food trucks, and artwork that reinforced the site’s potential.

Western Canal - Ecumenical Plaza

Western Canal - Ecumenical Plaza

Two elegant churches in Gothic Revival and Byzantine styles frame one of the earliest urban redevelopment projects of Lowell’s revitalization period. The grounds of St. Patrick Church (1853) and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (1908) are connected by Ecumenical Plaza, a 1970s-era brick platform over the Western Canal. Physically and symbolically linking two sections of the historic Acre neighborhood with its multicultural population, the Plaza was pictured as a new public space. Its potential has not been fully realized.

This plan reimagines the canal and park-side experience from a community and visitor point of view. With engaged community partners, neighbors, and church-goers, the Plaza can be lively. Possibilities include gardens, farm markets, ethnic crafts vendors, buskers, fairs, and festivals.

Merrimack River - John E. Cox & Joseph R. Ouellette Memorial Bridges

Merrimack River - John E. Cox & Joseph R. Ouellette Memorial Bridges

A major goal of the Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative is to light these two landmark bridges in a fashion that will heighten their visibility and further develop linkages on both sides of the river for recreational, pedestrian, and social uses. Already striking works of industrial America, these structures will gain value when illuminated in a new and dramatic way.