Lynn is one of Massachusetts’ 26 Gateway Cities, urban centers that anchor regional economies but face stubborn social and economic challenges. In 2017, as a pro-bono effort, we joined forces with Beyond Walls – a collection of engaged citizens rallied around the idea that art can be a potent force for public engagement and civic improvement to revitalize the City of Lynn, Massachusetts. These activists began a campaign focused on key urban interventions: dynamic underpass lighting, street-art murals, and vintage neon sign art. Three years later the Coronavirus Pandemic prompted new civic action, and in keeping with its mission to activate public spaces to strengthen communities, the group recognized the need for flexible outdoor spaces where people could safely gather, eat and enjoy all their community has to offer. Two new interventions were designed to address this immediate challenge, WaSH and FoLD. Combined, these five interventions create place and strengthen connection within this urban community.
Building on the Vibrancy of Lynn
Lynn, MA / United States
IN THE NEWS
Parke MacDowell, AIA
Partners and Supporters for the Underpass Lighting and Neon Project include: Barr Foundation; BALA; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103; Lam Partners; Students from Lynn Vocational Technical Institute; MassDevelopment; MBTA; Patronicity; Payette Associates; Philips Color Kinetics; Port Lighting Systems; Brickyard VFX; The Office of Community Development & The City of Lynn.
Partners and Supporters for WaSH and FoLD include: Lynn Community Health Center, City of Nashua, Lynn YMCA, Cook Street Park Association, My Brother’s Table, Lynn Shelter Association, Highland Coalition, Family and Children’s Service of Greater Lynn, Nightshade Noodle Bar, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Nashua Public Library, Lynn COVID-19 Vulnerable Population Task Force, Hirsch Landscaping, EDIC, Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, Rossetti, Fratello’s, Stella Blu, Bench Consulting, Greater Lynn Chamber of Commerce, Lynn Business Partnership, Office of Economic and Community Development, Lynn Housing Authority
A Brighter Future
In 2016, Payette had participated in Design Museum Boston’s “Urban Innovation Hackathon” to revitalize a dilapidated area under the I-93 overpass, where four diverse Boston neighborhoods intersect. With this experience, we joined forces with MassDevelopment, Patronicity and Beyond Walls to tackle Lynn’s underpass lighting challenge. In late 2017, work got underway to brighten and activate the shadowy, crime- and accident-ridden underpasses of Central Square, Washington Street and Market Street with dynamic, colorful and programmable LED lighting installations. These once-avoided areas have become vibrant landmarks in downtown Lynn, where people feel safe and welcome any time of day or night.
Lighting by Request
In collaboration with the City of Lynn, the lighting team is developing a free smartphone app, slated for release in the fall of 2018, which would allow anyone in the vicinity of the installation to choose lighting scenes and dynamic sequences, much like queuing up songs on a jukebox.
With its inaugural mural festival in 2017, Beyond Walls brought artists from around the world to paint high visibility walls. These artists reflect the diversity of Lynn, hailing from Central and South Americas, Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa and the local North Shore. In 2018, twenty-seven new murals were added.
Vintage Neon Sign Art
Merging art, history and technology, Beyond Walls restored and displayed vintage neon artwork from the collection of Dave Waller of Brickyard VFX. These vibrant artifacts of classic commercial Americana were refurbished and displayed in all their retro glory. Newly mounted on downtown buildings or in storefronts throughout the downtown cultural district, these nostalgic pieces are evocative of the heyday of Lynn’s commercial and industrial past. The added Illumination from these pieces increase walkability and thus the economic vitality of downtown Lynn.
Free-standing weather resistant wash stations that can be used in high traffic areas – parks, playgrounds, construction sites and outdoor dining areas. No electricity or plumbing is required, installation is quick and easy. Units are constructed from laser cut sheet-metal, feature solar powered lighting and utilize foot pedals for hands-free operation.
An attractive barrier system that makes outdoor dining safe and accessible while protecting clientele from traffic. Laser-cut sheet-metal parts flat-pack for simple assembly. Each unit, which can include planters for additional privacy, lighting, and trellises, can be tailored to meet marketing/branding guidelines.
Photography: © Warren Jagger Photography; Payette