Environmental Planning Workshop

Sarah Gardner, Environmental Studies


“I never knew there were urban problems in the Berkshires until I took Planning my senior year.  Now, I read the Berkshire Eagle online, even though I’ve graduated and I’m halfway across the country.  I care about the Morningside neighborhood and I want to know what’s happening there.”

I just received this email from a student who graduate this June.  Environmental Planning Workshop opens students’ eyes to the Berkshires and brings Environmental Studies students out of the classroom, off campus, and into the local cities and towns to work with communities to help solve environmental problems.  Each year brings new issues, new clients, and new challenges for the students.  After spending the term immersed in their projects, the student teams give a final presentation to their clients and the public. All the final reports and presentations may be found on the CES website at http://ces.williams.edu/environmental-planning-papers/.


Field trip to GE Superfund Site


The Tyler Street Transformative Development Initiative, Pittsfield, Massachusetts 

 This team conducted a large-scale assessment of the physical attributes of a declining neighborhood to support the city’s application for a state revitalization grant.  One of the most diverse, yet poorest neighborhoods of Pittsfield, Morningside has potential due to its good housing stock, commercial district and proximity to downtown. Yet, it at risk of blight.  The team conducted their assessement and observations and made recommendations for neighbhorhood improvements that would stem the decline of the built environment and enhance safety, quality of life and the environment.  The students worked under the guidance of Pittsfield City Planner, Cornelius Hoss.





Silje Christoffersen, Gemma Holt, Ross Hoffman, Angel Ortiz, and client Cornelius Hoss

The Williamstown Build-Out Analysis  

How much and where can a town develop under its current zoning? That’s what a build-out analysis determines. It’s an essential land use planning tool to inform decisions about land protection and d

evelopment.  The analysis identifies the multiple layers of constraints besides zoning, such as wetlands, aquifer protection overlay districts and steep slopes.  That’s where GIS comes in.  This group of student mastered GIS mapping and updated the town’s 17- year-old build-out analysis, resulting in a detailed, accurate, and useful land use tool for Williamstown.  They worked under the guidance of Town Planner Andrew Groff, and with the help of Williams

GIS Technology Specialist, Cory Campbell.







Andrew Groff (client), Erica Chang, Maggie Peard, and Jamie Ruggiero

Mount Greylock Regional High School Outdoor Placemaking

Mount Greylock Regional High School is undergoing a much-needed major renovation and addition, which will downsize the school to better fit the smaller student population.  The new school will also be more energy efficient, and as a two story building, it will have a smaller buiding footprint, allowing for more outdoor area.  In line with these changes, the building committee engaged the Environmental Planning class to design several outdoor spaces—a classroom, lunch area and waiting area–that would draw students outside. The goal was to create spaces that are fun and functional; it’s well documented that getting outside enhances learning and overall well being.




Kaatje White (MGRHS/Williams), Roshny Vijayakar, Sasha Langesfeld, Michael Ding, Sarah Cooperman, and MGRHS Principal Mary MacDonald.


Greylock Works Cider Lab

Greylock WORKS is a project based in a vast former mill building in North Adams.  The goals are to develop multiple food and hospitality-based operations that will buy from local growers, create jobs, and be an attraction for visitors to the North Berkshires. In addition to a planned  restaurant and hotel, the project includes artisanal food and cider production facilities.  This team conducted a feasibility study for the hard cider operation, traveling around Massachusetts and Vermont interviewing apple growers, cider makers, distributors and retailers to get an understanding of the cider business and to learn how this product could be economically viable.



Steve Yannacone, Sal Perry (client), Becky McClements and Will Schmidt