Capital District Master Plan

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Clients Location

Montpelier, VT

Category Awards
  • Vermont Planning Award

  • AIA New England Special Citation Award

  • New England Chapter of the American Planning Association Award

Planning Unifies the Diverse Needs of a Small City

The State of Vermont and the City of Montpelier, acting through the city/state commission, hired gbA to develop a fifteen year Capital District Master Plan (CDMP) for Montpelier, VT.  The CDMP seeks to preserve the best of Montpelier’s historic character while enhancing areas in need of improvement.  The final master plan is largely the product of community participation.  It unifies city and state interests with public concerns of the natural environment, economic growth, private development pressures, and transportation needs.  The goals were to identify, encourage and coordinate mutually beneficial future development plans for the Capitol Complex, the City of Montpelier, and the Winooski River Corridor.

An analysis was conducted of the Capitol Complex – of all State of Vermont buildings – to determine the long and short term facility program needs of each of them.  gbA then worked with state agencies to develop a fifteen year plan to accommodate the identified needs through both existing building renovations and new construction, with a focus on concentrated growth within the existing downtown rather than sprawl.  For the City of Montpelier, gbA looked at existing infrastructure and land use to identify opportunities for infrastructure improvements and economic development.  One key component was the introduction of a shared district energy system serving the entire Capitol Complex and downtown Montpelier, including the design and construction of the biomass fueled Montpelier District Heat Plant .

Geographically, the Winooski and North Branch Rivers have defined and shaped this small city.  The Winooski Riverfront Corridor, which was once a vital area of commerce, was underutilized and the CDMP proposed a public greenway that includes a bike path, park areas, and improved linkages to the surrounding city.  Along the greenway is the proposed site for a Capital City Visitor Center and a now completed Multimodal Transit Center.


"It may happen to you more often, but I have rarely (aka never) seen a plan for a small municipality created, accepted, and enacted the way this one has been. Amazing, truly amazing.

 One thing that was bringing an occasional smile to my face yesterday as I recounted the meeting is that so few are "following" the plan, yet so many are fulfilling it. That speaks to the thought, process, and wisdom you incorporated in it. Well done."

– Bill Kaplan