The CORE Alliance

The Core Alliance is a regional study designed to strategically position a city concerning its neighbors, in terms of opportunities for collaboration and competition. The study was commissioned by the Somerville Chamber of Commerce’s ‘New Group’, a consortium of local business leaders, city officials, and neighborhood activists. The initiative advocates for an action-oriented regional collaboration between the most prominent cities of the metropolitan area (namely Somerville, Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, Everett, and Chelsea), and builds an analytical case for the definition of a ‘Core’ of the Boston metropolitan area.

The Boston metropolitan area faces multiple critical urgencies. Yet we – as an urban society- are not confronting these sufficiently, and as a result, risk trailing in the competition between cities and nations. Still, Boston is amongst the best-positioned metropolitan areas in the world to flourish in the 21st Century, with an extraordinary base of human capital and a rapidly growing knowledge-based economy.

While the urban economy of the Boston metropolitan area has a large regional basis, it also has a CORE, which embeds the vast majority of our collective investments and growth potentials and presents the most significant concentrations of the region’s urban systems. However, as this core does not directly correspond to jurisdictional boundaries – no body or agency is responsible for the larger strategic interests of the core. For that very reason, this project argues for the CORE of the Boston metropolitan area and asks; how can we coordinate a strategy for growth, resiliency, and general well-being of our metropolitan urban CORE?

As a way to structure the CORE initiative, to advocate for successful planning and development of the Boston Metropolitan CORE, we established a 3 steps strategic plan, which includes:

1. Making the case: a regional analysis to identify and define key elements and layers of the core.

2. Developing a vision: a projective exercise to establish Core challenges and required initiatives.

3. Building an Alliance: towards a stakeholder coalition and implementable project definitions.

While distinct, the three strategic steps the initiative goes through requires a common basis to set goals and measures across the various topics at hand. For that reason, and in an attempt to be comprehensive, we have identified six Core categories of investigation, which are inherently cross-jurisdictional and necessitates a strong metropolitan alliance: Civic Core, Geographical Core, Environmental Core, Infrastructural Core, Social Core, and Economic Core.


Boston, US


2015 - 2016


20 sqmi


Public Space, Residential, Infrastructure, Landscape

Mission ORG

Urbanism, Research study


Alexander D’Hooghe, Kobi Ruthenberg, Aaron Weller


Somerville Chamber of Commerce