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Alum’s vision for more usable sidewalks

Nick Guertin

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Nick Guertin, AMD’14, is often struck by the lack of side­walk space for plant­ings, bike racks, or even seating on Hunt­ington Avenue in Boston. When he goes for runs, he notices com­muters siting on apart­ment stoops while waiting for the bus.

This past spring, Guertin devel­oped a solu­tion to address the problem. While working on co-​​op at Abacus Archi­tects + Plan­ners, the Boston-​​based design firm that recently hired him as a full-​​time designer, Guertin cre­ated “The Hub,” a mod­ular unit instal­la­tion com­prising seating, planters, bike racks, and cov­ered shelter overhangs.

This gives any neigh­bor­hood that wants to better itself the oppor­tu­nity to do so,” said Guertin, a Mis­sion Hill res­i­dent for the past two years. His work with Mission Hill Main Streets, a com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tion that pro­motes a vibrant and diverse Mis­sion Hill, also inspired the project.

The struc­tures, which Guertin designed with Hunt­ington Avenue’s narrow side­walks in mind, can be tai­lored to accom­mo­date the area’s needs. One instal­la­tion might con­sist of one long stretch of seating while another might fea­ture a bike rack paired with a planter.

It has a generic iden­tity but can be very spe­cific based on the needs of people in the area,” Guertin said. “We want to be able to quickly respond to everyone who is using it.”

Ear­lier this month the bench/​parklet hybrid was chosen as one of three win­ning sub­mis­sions in the streetscape cat­e­gory of Boston’s Public Space Invi­ta­tional, a crowd-​​sourced design com­pe­ti­tion aimed at re-​​thinking small public spaces, side­walks, and Boston City Hall. Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office of New Urban Mechanics spon­sored the competition.

As part of this recog­ni­tion, Guertin will receive funding from the city to build two pro­to­types to install later this year along the Hunt­ington Avenue cor­ridor between Brigham Circle and the Riverway. He said the hope is to not only offer addi­tional seating for pedes­trians, but also pro­vide addi­tional uses that allow pedes­trians to con­nect with their neigh­bor­hoods even more.

In the project’s plan­ning phase, he solicited input from North­eastern archi­tec­ture pro­fes­sors and his Abacus super­vi­sors. “This is the cul­mi­na­tion of my entire edu­ca­tion and co-​​op expe­ri­ence,” Guertin said. “All of the suc­cess is due to my expe­ri­ences at Northeastern.”

Read the original story at news@Northeastern →