URBAN PERIPHERY IN FLUX


Harvard GSD
Fall 2018
Woburn, MA
With Chenhao Ma



Woburn, Massachusetts lies on the historic route 128, which was once dubbed "the Massachusetts Miracle." The first segment of Route 128 was opened in 1951. While officials were confident the road would relieve traffic in Boston and help ease travel between the region's growing suburbs, they did not foresee that Route 128 would become a destination — and an economic engine — in its own right. But it did. Real estate developers came up with their own innovation — the first modern industrial parks — that were ideal locations for the growing number of technology companies in the state. The proximity to university labs and to expanding suburban communities drew so many high-tech companies to the area that Route 128 was dubbed "America's Technology Highway." By the 1960s, the Route 128 corridor was becoming one of the nation's major technology centers. When the minicomputer arrived in the 1970s and 1980s, minicomputer research and development fueled such growth in the state's economy. However, in the late 1980s, other parts of the country — especially northern California's "Silicon Valley" — began to eclipse Route 128 as the center of the computer industry. Some Massachusetts companies, such as Digital and Wang, were slow to recognize the potential of desktop and personal microcomputers. Overbuilding, speculation in real estate, and generally deteriorating economic conditions added to their woes. Many startups and a few well-established companies failed. "For Lease" signs sprouted along Route 128. Post-1980- With the growth of new fields, especially software, biotechnology, and fiberoptics, the state's high tech sector has begun to recover. Ever since, there has been an influx of bio-tech firms into Woburn. Whether startups or established firms relocating to take advantage of cheaper rents relative to Kendall Square in Cambridge, Woburn is starting to benefit from a new bio-tech community and environment. the project aims to fully optimize the potential of the existing biotech companies on site by maintaining them and supporting them with 3 distinct biotech campuses. Each campus is uniquely shaped by the existing conditions of the site and provides and mixed-use user-friendly experience.