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A leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors

New Bedford, MA

Success Story:
NSTAR Site

Mayor: Scott Lang (2006-2012)
Institute Session: 2006 MICD Northeast

The project Mayor Scott Lang brought to MICD was in no way a small one; he wanted to explore New Bedford’s downtown area and the center of the waterfront. “It’s a wide area,” says Mayor Lang, “and has a lot of important structures, some historic, some very difficult to reconfigure, and we’ve chipped away at it and we’ve made some real headway.”

In tackling these challenges, MICD has helped Mayor Lang to rethink the role of design in this community: “What it has done for me is think design and planning and logistical layout first and then try and figure out how we get it done from there. So, you know, the sky’s the limit on everything I look at and it may be a situation where, rather than major renovation, we’re painting and priming and doing a little plaster work, basically to preserve something for the day that we’ll have the money that we need to make an infrastructure change or something like that. You know, I’m looking at wood, cobblestone, brick. I’m looking at 200, 300 years worth of history, rather than looking at something and saying if we just could knock this down or if we could just plan around this, we wouldn’t have this strange configuration. Every time I look at it, I say I want to keep that configuration. I want to enhance it. I want to re-tool for looking at 200, 300 years worth of history, rather than looking at something and saying if we just could knock this down or if we could just plan around this, we wouldn’t have this strange configuration. Every time I look at it, I say I want to keep that configuration. I want to enhance it. I want to re-tool for the 21st century.”

New Bedford has opened up a dozen restaurants, as well as the first hotel in 50 years at the intersection of the downtown and the waterfront. The city has also been able to use its state pier building as a convention center and coupled it with a hotel—the first time the city has had a mini convention in the city—and created the opportunity for more conventions in the future.

Landing page photo by flickr user cmh2315fl