Mashpee Commons

Location: Mashpee, Massachusetts, USA
Project Categories: UrbanismCodes
Year Started: 1986
Status: construction
Size: 140 acres

Mashpee Commons is the first retrofit of a strip shopping center into a mixed-use, mixed-income, pedestrian-friendly town center. DPZ was invited in 1988 to create a master plan for the commercial center and to propose designs for the surrounding neighborhoods. The plan was accompanied by a detailed design code, used to define both new construction and the redevelopment of existing buildings. Over the next 15 years, Mashpee Commons grew to become a lively urban core for the surrounding suburban community of Mashpee, which encompasses 23 square miles. In May 2002, DPZ held another design charrette to finalize the structure of the project as a finished town, with a mixed-use center and two attached neighborhoods.

Mashpee Commons Town Center currently boasts a wide range of national retailers and local “mom-and-pop” merchants. A great deal of time and skill were required to achieve this retail mix, which has managed to include such basic necessities as a supermarket and a drugstore. Some of the shops are housed in liner buildings – 20-foot-deep structures that conceal the parking lots and provide more affordable leasing space. In addition, lofts and live-work units accommodate people who wish to incubate their own businesses by paying one mortgage for both the commercial and the residential space.

The housing in Mashpee Commons provides an equally diverse array of offerings. Affordable units are interspersed throughout, covering a great variety of typologies and with an architectural syntax identical to the market-rate housing (which includes starter, senior, and luxury options). There are a number of apartments already built above the stores, with additional units to be allocated in the surrounding neighborhoods over the next phases of construction.

A substantial complement of civic infrastructure in the mix of uses at Mashpee Commons helps to complete the community. Included in the plan are: a church, a hotel, a children’s museum, a library, a medical office building, and a proposed performing arts theater. There are proposals for additional institutions such as a daycare facility, a fire station, and a city hall.

The architectural style for the project is traditional Cape Cod. The simple volumes, the vertically proportioned doors and windows, and the limited palette of materials are the basics of this practical and highly attractive architectural vernacular.

8633-01 Aerial view of Mashpee Commons town center. Aerial view of Mashpee Commons town center. Livework units designed by Imai Keller Moore Architects Master plan of Mashpee Commons

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