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Busy Bend Design Study
Old townThe Busy Bend is a historic block of one- to three-story commercial buildings in the heart of downtown Woburn, opposite the Common. The front entrances face on Main Street, while the rear entrances of most buildings face the Walnut Street municipal parking lot. In late 1999, the WRA began a planning study of the Busy Bend, and retained the services of Pierce Lamb Architects and Paul Lu and Associates, landscape architects to assist in completing the work. The principal goal was to use the Busy Bend study as a vehicle to develop streetscape and storefront facade guidelines which could be applied throughout the Woburn Square Revitalization Area.

Final Design
The final Busy Bend Design Study proposed a combination of public and private initiatives for the historic block, including upgrading of both the sidewalks and parking lot, as well as storefront and facade renovations.

The vacant lot in the center of the block was proposed to be improved as a public plaza and pedestrian access way, linking the Main Street shopping area with the parking lot. This plaza concept, of course, was ultimately realized with the construction of Citizens Park.
Meeting Information
Over the course of the design project, meetings were held with each property owner and merchant to determine attitudes concerning priorities for spending and the most appropriate design image to guide both public and privately funded improvements.

Upgrading of the parking lot was unanimously viewed as a priority among those whose buildings face the lot, with other public-space improvements also seen as very important. Although the downtown has many buildings dating from both the Victorian period (late 1800's) and Art Deco period (1930's), all agreed that facade renovations should remain true to the unique style of each building and that no attempt should be made to enforce a uniform architectural character on the block. For public space improvements, however, a classical historic style was preferred; therefore a palette of street furnishings representing "period" fixtures was selected.

About the Designimage002.jpg
The image on the left depicts the typical sidewalk treatment with curb extension, as envisioned by Paul Lu and Associates for the Busy Bend study. Three of these curb extensions were eventually installed as part of the Busy Bend effort, along with ten new period streetlights, and new benches and plantings.

The curb extensions, located at crosswalks, were designed both for pedestrian safety and aesthetics. While they have improved pedestrian safety, they have also generated the most controversy within of the streetscape program.

The Busy Bend Design Study is available online!