Gilman Square
Station Area Plan

Client Challenge | With the arrival of new subway service, how can an auto-oriented section of the City of Somerville embrace this new mode of transportation? Adjacent to the site for the Gilman Square station are several gas station, auto-repair yards and a vacant, condemned city owned property. This context presented a challenge for city planners about how best to integrate this new transit, and the inevitable transit oriented, real estate development, with the robust residential neighborhood only a few blocks away.   

Team Approach | The Somerville by Design planning method was first utilized to create this plan. A transparent and iterative approach made it possible for a plan to emerge from the process that exceeded expectations. During the design charrette several constraints were discovered that were able to be converted into assets for the new planning giving it a political and economic framework for implementation. The existing intersection was less than ideal from a traffic safety perspective, a major underground utility was identified as being unable to be relocated and the operational requirements of the new subway station all combined into a the shaping of a new civic square that addressed all of these constraints. 

Project Impact | The adopted station area plan now includes a plan for creating a square for Gilman Square where today there is no square. The results of this vision for the neighborhood center gained widespread acceptance. Funding for the square was allocated in the City’s capital budget and redevelopment plans are currently underway for the required land trades and updated zoning needed to implement the vision for transit oriented development. 

Gilman Square
Somerville, MA

City of Somerville


Principle, Jeff Speck & Associates, David Carrico

Urban Design
Public Policy

•2015 Urbanism Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism New England

Illustrative site plan for the proposed Gilman Square, including new subway station (in red) and mixed-use infill development (in orange). 

Perspective view looking towards the proposed Gilman Square from the subway station.