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The development proposal for this historic Italianate structure built upon DCP's growing body of work and research revolving around work with small, post-industrial American cities. Combining the roles and services of site research, architectural design, coordination with local municipal agencies, concept planning and construction management, this proposal served as one of two finalists for efforts to revitalize the building and provide a generative node of activity for Holyoke's downtown. The scheme ultimately included commitments to design, develop, manage and occupy the property including all tenants spaces and hospitality programs.    

The Hotel Jess sits as a unique site in an incredibly unique landscape. The fact that so many factors of the past and present contribute to its sense of place leave the site able to carry the weight of a catalyst to a new ecosystem of urban experience. Placed in the heart of historic Depot Square, the building defines a gateway into the city for the growing group of visitors that arrive by rail and must live up to that role to engage not only local residents, but incoming, temporary citizens. 

While the building may sit in the city’s Innovation District, the reality of the entire post-industrial urban landscape is one that calls for innovation--new ways to utilize centuries of value in order to plug latent assets back into the world beyond. In the design of this proposal, the design and development team was continually faced with the same question: How do we innovate...

  • The way we develop?
  • The way we live?
  • The way we activate the urban realm?

As an abandoned historic structure built for a different era of uses and functional constraints, the site presents a number of challenges to the parameters of traditional development methods. But the aspects that could discourage the mechanics of the status quo also lend themselves to exploring innovative ways for adaptively re-using the historic fabric. By embracing these qualities and leveraging their authenticity we can create new building models that reconnect construction, ownership and operation to create a more viable and resilient outcome as Holyoke neighbors. 

Holyoke, Massachusetts - Site Plan

Holyoke, Massachusetts - Site Plan


The task facing not only this building, but Holyoke in general, is a complicated one that exists at multiple, interconnected scales. The network of residents, businesses, amenities and spaces at the urban level exists as a series of smaller systems; groups of people and uses that form nodes of activity at the scale of the neighborhood, block and even building. The goal is to start with critical pieces that can not only breathe life into the site, but help serve as a catalyst for broader activation. 

The first phase of the project is to create a series of use types and revenue streams that help make more resilient property. A more diverse group of uses that cover a broader range of cost, frequency and risk can create a complementary whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Its resulting mixed-use nature offers the chance to give more than a single addition to the local community, but a multi-faceted one. 

In order to both situate the partnership on site as well as offer a residential and office space at lower build-out costs, the second floor can begin as a split between owner-occupied residential lofts and half a floor of cooperative workspace. This commercial concept will provide working desk space for the partners and their design businesses along with empty desks that could be an asset for other local entrepreneurs. 

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