Envisioning a More Sustainable and Just Future for Medford, MA

How is the city of Medford nudging policies and investments to ensure that the City and its residents can adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis, adopt a more equitable land use and redevelopment process, support the region's history and culture, all while fostering economic growth and deploying plentiful and robust public services? A new comprehensive plan, shaped through extensive community engagement, provides a coordinated vision and pathway forward.

Founded in 1630, Medford is a mid-sized city in Massachusetts within the Greater Boston metro area. While Medford's population continues to grow and diversify, the city faces similar challenges to Boston: limited housing, intensifying challenges from the climate crisis, aging infrastructure and built environment stock, and a lack of sustainable transit connectivity. 

To address these challenges, the City of Medford hired a team of consultants led by Agency Landscape + Planning, and including Innes Associates Ltd., Arup, Landau Design + Technology and Karp Strategies, to create a 10-year Comprehensive Plan. The team sought to address critical challenges and opportunities for the city and its residents, including land use, economic development, housing, mobility, public space, recreation, historic and cultural resources, and public facilities. A draft of Medford's Comprehensive Plan, released in July of 2022, builds upon Medford's unique physical and historical characteristics as well as the evolving needs and interests of its community to outline innovative, implementable solutions that can create sustainable and just opportunities for all of Medford's residents. 

Karp Strategies, a mission-driven urban strategy consultancy founded in 2015 by DUSP alumna Rebecca Karp (MCP '11), seeks to bring a holistic approach through design thinking, market analysis, and community engagement to help communities and clients build more robust, resilient, and healthier cities. Karp Strategies developed the economic development and housing strategy for the Medford Comprehensive Plan. "Early on in my career, I understood that I wanted my work to have an impact. MIT DUSP is where I honed my skills, nurtured my vision and continued to work with likeminded people on rewarding projects, which ultimately inspired me to start my own urban planning consulting firm. DUSP faculty member Karl Seidman was instrumental to my learning and my professional practice, and I continue to work with the methods and philosophies I learned from him,” said Karp. “Today my firm, Karp Strategies, is collaborating with the city of Medford's Agency of Landscape and Planning to develop a ten-year strategy for economic development and housing as part of their comprehensive plan. Our team is turning information from technical reviews, data analysis, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups into strategies that center on equitable development and strengthen the Medford economy."

Ali Sutherland-Brown, a Principal at Karp Strategies and fellow DUSP alumna (MCP ‘16), led the Karp Strategies team collaborating on the Comprehensive Plan. 

“Alongside the Medford Comprehensive Planning team, I am working on a master plan and economic development strategy that reinforces how physical place connects to health, to happiness, to one's agency in the world. Through my City Design and Development concentration at MIT DUSP, I learned how design principles can be used to shape our built environment for more equitable, sustainable, and economically successful outcomes,” said Sutherland-Brown. “As this master plan comes to fruition, I am grateful to have learned the skills necessary to provide informed, educated consultancy in a meaningful way.” 

Read the full draft plan, the draft outlining the implementation of the project, and share your comments and feedback

Learn more about Karp, Sutherland-Brown, and Karp Strategies