The entrance to the West Broadway housing development, after renovation in accordance with the 1983 P/A Award-winning plan.

The entrance to the West Broadway housing development, after renovation in accordance with the 1983 P/A Award-winning plan.

Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy


What to do with distressed postwar public-housing projects is a challenge for cities around the country, and few efforts have had as much success as the upgrading of the West Broadway Housing complex in Boston. Designed by Lane, Frenchman & Associates and Goody, Clancy & Associates, the renewal plan called for inserting more streets through the development’s existing super­blocks, reducing the number (and expanding the size) of dwelling units, and replacing a barren, largely concrete landscape with fenced-in—and easily defensible—green spaces and playgrounds.

Not every aspect of the project got implemented. Wood-framed townhouses along West Broadway and a social-services and daycare center replaced three clusters of the proposed brick-clad housing, yielding a greater diversity of unit types and outdoor spaces. But much of the project cited by the P/A Awards jury in 1983 was realized as planned, resulting in a substantial increase in plantings and playgrounds, new direct entryways into units from the outside, and off-street parking.

The growing prosperity of this area of South Boston has reinforced the success of this development and, at the same time, the project’s success has no doubt contributed to making West Broadway a desirable destination for residents, both locals and those new to the area. And while we know that architecture cannot cure society’s ills, this revitalized neighborhood shows the value of attending to the details of public space and to what families of diverse backgrounds need in order to thrive. Above all, this project demonstrates how good design can create a place that attracts people and makes them want to take care of it.

1983 P/A Awards Jury
George Baird, Intl. Assoc. AIA
Alan Chimacoff, AIA
Stanton Eckstut, FAIA
Sandra Howell
Mark Mack
Marietta Millet
James Stirling
John Woodbridge, FAIA

A playground in the renovated West Broadway housing development.

A playground in the renovated West Broadway housing development.

Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy


The renovations created new courtyards and green spaces for residents of West Broadway housing.

The renovations created new courtyards and green spaces for residents of West Broadway housing.

Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy


An aerial view of the West Broadway housing complex, after the proposed renovations were completed.

An aerial view of the West Broadway housing complex, after the proposed renovations were completed.

Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy


An aerial view showing the complex as it stood before renovations, with the remains of the 1948 public housing development.

An aerial view showing the complex as it stood before renovations, with the remains of the 1948 public housing development.

Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy


A sketch of proposed renovations to the exterior and interventions into the streetscape.

A sketch of proposed renovations to the exterior and interventions into the streetscape.

Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy


Credit: Courtesy of Cymie Payne and Goody Clancy