In the late 1800’s, the Holyoke Canals were carved into a small peninsular land formation, connecting two ends of a vast oxbow in the Connecticut River, and creating the rst designed industrial city in the U.S. For several decades Holyoke would be the largest paper producing city in the world, earning the nickname
“Paper City.” More recently, Holyoke has seen generations of decline with growing poverty, infrastructural degradation, and a burgeoning criminal element.

As a firm, we have participated in several projects whose aim is to revitalize the center of the city through the re-purposing of its vast industrial built environment. These efforts are part of a larger project to convert the Canal District into a pedestrian friendly, mixed-use neighborhood, complete with light industry, entertainment venues, residences, artist’s studios and a scenic promenade around the canals themselves.

104 Race Street is slated to be the first large (legal) place of assembly in the Canal District. Currently, it is a disused warehouse with heavy timber purlins, truly unique steel trusses, and vast, beautiful skylights. When complete, it will house a restaurant with a beer garden, a cafe, and a performance space. In order to get the most out of the space, it was designed with scheduling of events and its interface with public spaces in mind. During the day, the cafe, with its large, transparent, overhead doors and massive skylights, will provide a bright, contemplative environment, inviting people to come in from the canal promenade. Later in the day and through the night, the back of the building will become active with a restaurant, bar, musical performances, and a large outdoor patio, all set back from the street in order to provide more protection from noise for the neighbors.

This project is in its rst phase of construction and occupancy, acting as a gallery and exhibition space as the owner accumulates the funding to complete the project as shown.

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