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City of Somerville



The City of Somerville has been described at the “hip alternative to both Boston and Cambridge” and over the past decade the city has transitioned into one of the more fascinating places to live and work in New England. Plans are in place to construct six new Green Line subway stations over the next decade. Once complete, this extensive transit project will bring 85% of the city’s population to within 1/4 mile of a station. This radical change in mobility combined with region’s housing development pressures has lead to the City’s leadership establishing a comprehensive planning framework that is truly unique.  

The talented team at the City’s Planning Department has been working with Principle Group since 2011 on a variety of urban design and neighborhood plans, as well as the citywide zoning overhaul. A key to this partnership's success has been the continuous refinement of the Somerville By Design planning method and the team’s deep commitment to New Urbanism and community-led planning.

"We are pushing the boundaries of community-led planning in Somerville. Principle has been an essential partner in making this happen. Their hands-on approach to placemaking and passion for helping local communities see a bright future is remarkable."
George Proakis, Planning Director, City of Somerville

Project | Somerville City-Wide Zoning Overhaul

Somerville had compiled a set of disorganized zoning regulations over the last half century that limited development and forced the most minor of additions to existing homes through a difficult approval process. The team's challenge was figuring out how to navigate a major change to zoning in the densest city in New England while addressing growth pressure and concerns related to rising costs and displacement. 


Project | Union Square
Neighborhood Plan

In anticipation of a public transportation expansion into the neighborhood, Union Square initiated a neighborhood development plan. The key question of the neighborhood plan was how to grow while maintaining the authentic and funky character that people love about Union Square.   



Project | Transit-Oriented Placemaking in Gilman Square

In order to balance density and placemaking, our team aimed to create a design that would transform Gilman Square into a new public square with a civic tower.  


Project | Community-Driven Plan for Winter Hill

Winter Hill is one of the few neighborhoods in Somerville that will not be receiving direct access to a new MBTA Green Line subway station. Our team worked in the neighborhood to make a plan that would create both public and private enhancements.