Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Master Planning Materials

Campus Context

Located just minutes from Main Street and downtown Worcester, WPI is one thread in a rich fabric of residential, institutional, civic, and urban neighborhoods. Given the diversity in use and character of the adjacent districts, every side of the WPI campus presents itself differently to its surrounding context. The way that the campus interacts with the community should also inform future development and expansion, access and entry to the campus, and the preservation of significant existing resources.

North of Salisbury Street

The northern edge of campus borders on Institute Park, which provides a scenic glimpse into history of this place. The park contains Salisbury Pond, which once fed the mills at Northworks across the Park. Even though the mills have long been closed, the pond still feeds an underground stream that eventually leads to the Blackstone River, making this an interesting element of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. Over time, however, the boathouse, bridges, and other interesting structures once located in Insitute Park have disappeared, making it much less active than it once was. Today, the park is maintained by the City but does not get much use other than a few concerts or other events in the summer.

East of Boynton Street

Due primarily to topography, areas east of Boynton feel like they are "off campus," even though WPI operates a number of facilities on both Dean and Wachuset Streets. Current WPI land ownership in this two-block area makes it the most heavily WPI-influenced section of the neighborhoods surrounding the core campus.

Further east is an area that is commonly referred to as the "Institutional Zone" in Worcester. This culturally rich area includes Tuckerman Hall, Worcester Art Museum, several churches, the Military Museum, Homeless Veterans Shelter, Worcester Vocational School, and Memorial Auditorium, among others. With a number of historically significant buildings and hidden cultural resources, this area suffers from a lack of cohesiveness due to a sparse streetscape and lack of pedestrian and retail activity.

South of Institute Road

Between Institute and Highland Roads is a strong residential neighborhood, with much of its northern edge occupied by WPI associated housing and administrative uses. None of WPI's property extends to Highland Street, so the presence of the college just hundreds of feet away is not obvious to many who travel along one of Worcester's busiest arteries. This area, with its eclectic mix of local businesses and storefronts, has seen periods of decline and prosperity, but has never fully developed as a regional or local destination.

Further south across Highland Street is a neighborhood with a higher concentration of mixed income housing. Becker College is also located in this area, and, similar to WPI, its presence is not immediately recognizable.

West of Park Avenue

Park Avenue, another major traffic artery, forms a very strong barrier to the west of campus. While WPI has some presence in this area, it is mostly characterized by the upper income residential neighborhoods along Salisbury and Mass Ave., as well as the scenic wooded landscape of Bancroft Hill.

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Last modified: Jul 11, 2003, 14:36 EDT

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