2012 Found: Space Between Places

​​Location:  Boston, Massachusetts USA

Partner:    City of Boston, Mayor's Main Streets Initiative

​​Date:         July-August 2012

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Project Description:

 

This project set out to better understand the "liminal" or transitional spaces between the more successful places in our cities but soon evolved into a study of certain kinds of "empty" spaces: vacant lots.  

While many of the hundreds of vacant urban lots are privately owned, many others are public. Students wanted to know why the city leaves their lots vacant, attracting trash, crime, and weakening the community. Upon learning that city officials  were interested in finding new ways to transform these lots, UF's teens brainstormed bold ways to design and build innovative new landscapes and architectures to reinvigorate these lost public spaces.

 

Working with neighborhood leaders, community residents, and representatives from the Mayor's Main Streets initiative, students explored, mapped, and compared successful and unsuccessful open spaces, noting the impact of topography, adjacent activities, materials, etc. Teams proposed, designed, revised, and built prototype structures for medium-term use by the community.

Project time was divided between the sites, design and digital fabrication at the MIT studio, and fabrication and construction in the shop.

Outcomes:

Two projects proposals were fully developed and prototyped.  

Terrain Strategy- The first proposes to use existing landscape materials found on vacant city lots as the basis for new, catalytic terrains. Using simple foundational forms, such as mounds, burms, edges, and fields, designers developed a series of interactive activity "stations" intended to foster play, community dialogue, and improved neighborhood commitment to the site. Using models and drawings and full-scale mockups, the team demonstrated the simplicity, sustainability, and versatility of their of their proposals.



Edge Strategy- The second project team identified the edge of vacant lots, and their functional connection to adjacent activities, as the key to their transformation. Following a "seed bombing" of the neighborhood to explore the health of the soils and attract interest to the project, students met with with community leaders and urban farmers. The project evolved into an attempt to use large structures to activate the edge between urban community gardens and bus stops and other informal places of gathering.  The goal was to build a lively interactive marketplace for ideas and healthy food. 

​​Process Improvement:

Improved strategies to identify relevant contextual guides.   Improved mapping and community partnership process. 

Developed low-cost temporary catalytic interventions.

Initiated and refined Fellowship in Design/Build Teaching.

 

Reseachers/Fellows/Leaders:

Dan Belknap, Alper Besen, Katie Degregorio, Ian Jackson, Tyler Kiggins, JD Sassaman, Max Scoppettone, Mariel Villere

 

 

Design/Build Team:

Myles Agudelo, Miryam Alexander, David Beers,Louis Beers, Hallie Black, Sophie Cash, Chup Chiu, Arup Choudry, Jackson Condry, Anna Datko, Meaghan Dunn, Alexandria Edelson, Mara Ezekiel, Andrew Forrester, Walker Griggs, Sean Hussey, Clara  Ives, Maddie Jacks, Sima  Kasraie, Amit Koundinya, Karen Kravets, Crystal Lee, Zachary Logounov, Ellen Lowry, Christopher MacFadyen, Nick Marino, Isha Mehra, Joseph Miller, Nathalia Negri, Callum Nelson, Ayan Noyan, Chris O'Shea, Joseph Pincus, Hannah Pucker, Alec Robins, Josh Roy, Mariana Santos, Alexandra Sanyal, Jeremy Smith, Madeline Stewart, Shoshana Stitcher, Christy Stuver, Eli Webber, YuLin Yu, Serhiy Zadorozhnyak