NASHUA — Carl Pucci was presented a $5,000 award Thursday for his winning entry into the Nashua International Design Competition, a two-year effort that generated a wealth of ideas for the revitalization of the Nashua Millyard.
The 18 entries to the competition revolved around the Broad Street Parkway, an estimated $64.5 million project to create a new access point into downtown Nashua via new roads and a bridge over the Nashua River.
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.
Pucci learned of the event through Competitions magazine, and participates in this type of project every few years. It allows him to be more imaginative, he said, unhampered by the demands of an actual client.
“Essentially, you're trying to make a new focus, a new loci, a place in the mill district so that (the area) become more cohesive and recognizable, and deal at the same time with the new bridge traffic that's being introduced,” he said before the event.
Not being an insider lent him a particular advantage, Pucci said.
“In reading through the history of the Broad Street Parkway, and the 30 or 40 years that the discussion has been going on, I think that the competition was clearly looking for some new ideas as a way to get around the deadlock that had been created in the past.”
The competition's website, nashuadesigncompetition.com, drew over 5,000 hits from every U.S. state and 107 countries.
A nine-member jury presided over the competition, led by chairman Tim Nickerson. Nickerson said among the eight finalists, Boiler Green did the most to accentuate the canal that sits fenced in along Ledge and Pine Streets.
“It's a truly integral part of the canal,” he said. “There are crossings at logical points. It brings you into places, brings you to spaces, brings you to uses across the way, as opposed to just dumping you nowhere.”
Jury member Jim Vayo, an architect at Renaissance Downtowns, said the proposal would help to slow down traffic, protect pedestrians and create a better environment for everybody “It brings together cars and people and urban fabric in such a minimalist way, and it would take very little effort to do it in an elegant manner,” Vayo said.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau presented Pucci with the award. She said Boiler Green represents, “an opportunity for us to see what is possible and perhaps make some big decisions.”
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.”
Hersh added that some of the development could be market-driven. Once the mill buildings are revitalized, she said, demand could be placed on the city to revitalize the surrounding space.