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Buckley Transportation Center will be Transformed

Submitted by on September 25, 2017 – 7:54 pm

This is an artist’s rendering of the new facade of the Buckley Transportation Center which features a mural designed by Elevated Thought.

The Buckley Transportation Center, a highly visible landmark in downtown Lawrence, should soon have a new look, thanks to a new campaign to beautify the city which Northern Essex Community College is a part of.

At a kick-off event on Wednesday, Sept. 20, a group of organizations spearheading the initiative unveiled their plans which include cleaning and re-staining the wood slat façade; repairing and improving the ground floor and bus waiting area, and creating a public art landmark on the side of the facility.

The $100,000 project will be funded by a $50,000 grant from Mass Development which must be matched by the community over a 60-day period.  A crowdfunding campaign has been created to raise money for the project and donations are being solicited from businesses and individuals.

Organizations involved in the planning of this project include the City of Lawrence, Groundwork Lawrence, the Lawrence Partnership, the Lawrence Redevelopment Authority, and Northern Essex Community College.  Elevated Thought, an arts and social justice organization, came up with the inspiration for the project and will create the artwork, and Payette Associates, a Boston design firm, provided architectural direction.

Built in 1993 and named for Lawrence’s longest-serving mayor, John Buckley, who was in office from 1951 to 1973, the transportation center is currently a “hulking block long grey box”, according to the project website, and the plan is to replace that “with warm energetic colors that create a light welcoming environment and speak(s) to Lawrence’s artistic renaissance and strong community culture.”

A highlight of the kick-off event was the unveiling of the whimsical artwork which will run the length of the Common Street side of the building.

Alex Brien of Elevated Thought created the design, which is affectionately called “bubble girl”, with his four-year old daughter Charlotte as the model.  In the design, butterflies surround a young girl who is intently blowing bubbles that flow across the side of the building.  A poem, celebrating Lawrence, is printed on her figure.

According to Brien, the child symbolizes “innocence” and “hope” and the bubbles connect with transportation center’s ability to take people anywhere they want to go.

As his colleague Marquis Victor, president of Elevated Thought, explained “We’re redefining the narrative of Lawrence with light, beauty, and potential.”

Representing the Buckley family at Wednesday’s event was Bill Buckley, John’s grandson.   He said his grandfather was “forever proud to be from Lawrence” and that his immigrant story was not much different from those who are coming to the city today.

Those interested in contributing to the Buckley Transportation Center project, can visit the crowdgranting site .