The St. Joseph’s Church in Salem, MA has sat shuttered since August of 2004 but will soon become a vibrant, mixed-use, affordable housing and retail development at the gateway to downtown Salem.
UBLA joined the development team of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, Development Synergies, Samiotes Consultants, and The Architectural Team to help shepherd this 76 unit project through construction documentation. We felt it was crucial to break the mold of typical affordable housing projects that appear unattractive and barren due to a weak exterior landscape design of simple lawn and foundation plantings.
A key feature of the landscape design was the development of a central courtyard which provides opportunities for community interaction while respecting the history of St. Joseph’s Church.
UBLA repurposed existing granite block walls and attached cap stones to provide a low, stepped seatwall and pillars to provide visual interest and set the greenspace back from the parking lot.
Large slab landings from the Church entry were then repurposed to provide ample seating for the cobbled sitting nook adjacent to the main entry.
Other key features of UBLA’s work included:
- Use of a diverse group of native plantings that are by nature low maintenance, drought tolerant, improve air quality, and provide habitat value
- Use of shade trees to block unwanted views, provide scale to the building, and mitigate heat island effect
- Major reduction in impervious surface
- Repurposing of on site materials to incorporate the old into the new
- Identifying and transplanting valuable specimen trees on the existing site
- Use of materials that respect St. Joseph’s Church and the history of downtown Salem: including cobble, historic brick and reclaimed granite
- Creation of a well designed outdoor space which brings neighbors together in a safe environment
We look forward to our continued involvement with the development team as this great project breaks ground later this fall.