ProjecT Milestones

  1. March 2, 2015 RFP Submitted

  2. July 29, 2015 MarKa recommended by TAC and Mayor approves recommendation

  3. September 28, 2015 Community Meeting 1 – Introductions and Charrette

  4. October 21, 2015 Community Meeting 2 – Presentation of Project with Q&A

  5. November 10, 2015 Community Meeting 3 – Design Presented with Changes from Q&A

  6. December 9, 2015 Community Meeting 4 – Focused on Park Design

  7. April 28, 2016 Design Review Committee First Hearing

  8. May 5, 2016 Zoning Ordinance amendment heard in a Joint Public Hearing of BOA Land Use Committee and Planning Board

  9. May 18, 2016 Land Disposition Agreement (“LDA”) heard by BOA Finance Committee Hearing

  10. May 26, 2016 Design Review Committee Second Hearing

  11. June 2, 2016 Entitlement Permit Joint Public Hearing of Planning Board and Board of Alderman Land Use Committee of the Whole

  12. June 21, 2016 Land Disposition Agreement (“LDA”) is executed by the Mayor following Board of Alderman review with subcommittee involvement

  13. June 23, 2016 Design Review Committee Third Hearing

  14. June 23, 2016 Zoning Ordinance amended by vote of the Board of Aldermen (unanimous)

  15. August 4, 2016 Entitlement Permit Application first reviewed by Planning Board

  16. August 8, 2016 Entitlement Permit Decision approved by Planning Board (unanimous)

  17. September 26, 2016 Affordable Housing Implementation Plan (AHIP) executed

  18. October 22, 2016 Entitlement Permit Recorded at Registry of Deeds

  19. October 28, 2016 Schematic Design Milestone Set Completed

  20. November 16, 2016 Community Meeting 5 – Park Design Unveiled

  21. November 22, 2016 Land Acquired from City

  22. January 11, 2017 Community Meeting 6 - Construction Kick-Off Meeting

  23. March 1, 2017 Abatement & Demolition Start

  24. June 28, 2017 Building Permit

  25. July 19, 2017 Kaplan Construction onsite as General Contractor.

  26. December 20, 2017 Pricing Set Design Completion

  27. July, 2018 Construction commences

  28. October 3, 2018 - Groundbreaking Ceremony

Construction is scheduled to conclude early 2020.


Below you can access community meeting agendas, and presentation documents.
Comments received during the meetings are represented in the white images below, and those addressed in the proposed design and program are in green.  


Meeting 3


Meeting 5 - Park Design


Meeting 6 - Exploratory Demolition and Abatement Construction Kick-Off Meeting



What is Powder House for Somerville?

Powder House for Somerville is inspired by the community's goals, diversity and vibrancy, and re-imagines the shell of the structure to include commercial, residential and green open spaces that are meant to be cohesive, synergistic and activated. This inclusive urban village sets the form for an inter-generational live-work-educate-inspire-shop-entertain "campus-style" environment.                     

Community MarKa invites the people and organizations that make each community unique to take part in the development of a project from its earliest stages. Developing the social structure of a space in parallel to the physical environment is crucial to creating a place that is engaging and self- sustaining.

Architecture                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           MarKa's designs maximize open green space with dense urban environments through the integration of Landscape, Architecture, and Art, the coupling of sustainable construction practices with a commitment to craft, and a passion for environments that encourage human engagement.

MarKa's project is conceived around the idea of green space. Open green space is essential to creating vital urban communities that are socially, psychologically, physically, and nutritionally beneficial for people of all ages and abilities.

MarKa understands art as a vital form of expression that is critical to both defining and strengthening communities. The project is created as a medium for the arts, providing extraordinary opportunities to create and experience art.

NEIGHBORHOOD MAPS      (Click to enlarge)

Circulation Map                                                                                                                                                   Orientation Map                                                        

Interactive Map


Marka's Community COLLABORATION

Collaborative Living Project:

The Collaborative Living Project (CLP) was initiated in July 2010 by a group of progressive artists, activists, and educators approaching retirement age who had begun to imagine where, how, and with whom they would like to live the rest of their lives. Given the particular experiences of their generation with collective action and alternative lifestyles, CLP members decided that existing retirement facilities and nursing homes were not the places they would choose to end up. CLP choose to stay active and relevant within the urban community.

CLP envisions an intentional community of active participants with as much demographic diversity as possible, who remain engaged in their local community, responsive to broad social and political concerns, and determined to maintain the highest quality of life as they continue to age together.  CLP seeks to develop an innovative and expansive model for aging in place — one in which universal design, green construction, and careful program planning encourage physical activity, community involvement, creative self-expression, inter-generational communication, and access to health and wellness services. It is a community where thoughtful design supports flexible living arrangements, changing circumstances, and a diversity of social functions. 


Bicycle Riding School:

The Bicycle Riding School (BRS) is a center that teaches people of all ages how to ride bicycles, including adults who never learned to ride as children. BRS has an approach that assures a virtual 100% success rate. (About one in 400 students does not learn to ride.)  People come from all over the country to learn to ride with BRS, as it is one of the few places that teaches beginners to ride, and it is the only one that operates full time. During the height of the season, BRS has students at the Powder House yard 7 days a week.

Susan McLucas is the main instructor with Pata Suyemoto as her assistant, helping with the beginners and doing most of the street riding training. In the past 28 years, BRS has taught about 3,000 people to ride, including about 150 people who already rode but wanted help with traffic skills and confidence

Artist Community:

The Maker's Space amenity fulfills  the work part of the live/work equation and will be a collaborative space for our onsite artist community, as well as visiting artists. The Maker's amenity space shall include a 400 square foot art patio open to the sky and a makers' garden space (4,940 sf) outdoor terrace that is thickly vegetated. 

Artists will be invited in the community to participate in a number of arts including performance art, live arts and installations. Spaces for installations are included throughout including:

Live Mural - This "artscape" is open to anyone who seeks a large canvas to express themselves in the community context. No artist will feel ownership here and the retaining wall for the live mural changes week to week, and month to month.

Amphitheater - This seating area will carve into the landscape, and is oriented to the "Artist Hall" commercial space. It will be constructed to accommodate a large audience and landscape to provide a soft seating area.

Freedom Wall - The Freedom Wall is a platform for open expression from local artists. Once a year, one artist, or a group of artists will   be selected to create a piece of art that is a symbol of the freedom of expression that exemplifies the Somerville community. This piece will be displayed along Broadway for the community to enjoy as they pass by.

MarKa is actively seeking additional community partners who wish to collaborate in this progressive community. If interested, please contact us.


Powder House for Somerville is a community-driven project that achieves many of the goals resulting from both an extensive SomerVision community planning process, as well as the numerous community meetings conducted recently and over the last several years.  The community set forth a vision for the future of the former Powder House School site, which MarKa was selected to execute.

Starting in August 2015, MarKa has reached out to the community in a number of ways, including more than 40 1-on-1 and group style stakeholder meetings, going door-to-door with flyers, publishing information in newspapers, in storefronts and other media among many other forms. MarKa has also embarked on a community process including a 4 meeting series that included charrettes and updated designs. More than 50 community stakeholders participated in each meeting.

The proposal included herein acknowledges and accounts for more than 320 of the 360 community comments received to date. Powder House for Somerville is now poised to achieve the maximum public benefits for all people to enjoy.

Click on the images below for details of MarKa's updated proposal, and please keep sending comments our way! 

Powder House for Somerville achieves 29 out of a possible 39 SomerVision Goals

UPdated OPEN GREEN SPACE Scheme As of 12/09/15

Rehabilitation & SUSTaiNABLE ELEMENTS


Green Design Elements

  • Rehabilitation of the existing structure

  • Integrates day lighting, natural ventilation, and storm water recharge strategies

  • 69,000+ square feet of programmed, public and private open-green space

  • LEED Gold certifiable project

  • Energy Star Home Design Certification

  • Extensive native landscaping throughout

Green Construction Methods

  • Recycling building materials saves 6,885 metric tons of concrete from entering landfills

  • Use of locally manufactured materials

  • Use of materials made from recycled content

  • Performance verification for air-sealing of building elements

  • Low VOC Sealants & Paints

Green Operations

  • 25,000 SF rooftop solar farm in a ~250kW array producing 3,000 MWh per hour of renewable electricity

  • High-efficiency Lighting and Energy Star Appliances

  • Systems Performance Monitoring

  • Low-water flow plumbing systems

  • Green Transportation Programs

  • Recycling Programs

Benefits & IMPACTS


  • Purchase Price including Park and Streetscape Improvements: ....................................$2,774,800

  • Estimated Annual Property Tax Calculations at Completion (Year 1): .........................$294,488

  • Estimated additional 1-time municipal revenue from permits: .......................................$200,000 to $300,000

  • Pre-construction, Construction, and Permanent Job Estimate: .......................................129 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)

  • SomerVision Goals Achieved: ..........................................................................................29 Out of a Possible 39 Goals

  • Other Community Benefits Resulting from the Project: .....................................................Not Quantifiable, but Signficant


MarKa is excited to be your long-term neighbor, and we look forward to building an even better neighborhood together. 
We shall take every measure to minimize growing pains during construction by employing:

  • A transparent, Online Construction Schedule (Updated every 3 weeks)

  • Traffic Management Plan

  • Dust Control Measures

  • Rodent Control Measures

  • Noise Control Measures

  • Odor Control Measures


MarKa aims to mitigate construction impact as much as possible throughout the building's transformation process. To the left is a construction staging diagram explaining the construction boundary and access points for public around the site, and workers within the site (click to enlarge).





Document Library

For all past City-initiated community processes including community forums and RFPs, the Technical Advisory Committee's (TAC) Report to the Mayor and other project documents such as environmental reports and various studies, please visit the City of Somerville's Powder House page:


For details regarding the information contained herein, please review our proposal by clicking here:

MarKa Proposal


Want to send MarKa a personal message? Please contact us here:

Name *
Address *
Phone *