Welcome.

The Community Design Resource Center of Boston is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit.  With a staff of one and a design community of several thousand, we provide pro bono technical assistance to community groups, nonprofits, and municipalities in projects that involve and benefit underserved communities throughout metropolitan Boston, AND we support, promote, and celebrate Boston-area architects and designers doing public interest work.

To see what we’re up to (and what we’ve done), visit our current work and our project galleries.

Please join us!

If you have ideas for a project or would like to get involved, please email gschneider@architects.org or fill out the form here.

The CDRC is supported by the Boston Society of Architects, grants, and the generosity of many individuals, firms, and design schools.

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Shirley Ave Gateway Starts to Take Shape

Over the past two years, over one hundred Revere residents have participated in a series of community design events to envision and start to implement a new gateway to their neighborhood — Shirley Avenue — a neighborhood enriched by the history of Revere Beach next door, and enlivened by the wonderfully diverse array of cultures present in local residents and businesses today.

The existing scene when one exits the Revere Beach T station gave no hint of the lively neighborhood beyond, while the chain link made it difficult to get there.

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The Neighborhood Developers initiated a project with the City of Revere to create a new, community focused, artistic “gateway” on the triangle of city-owned land between the T station and Shirley Avenue.  The CDRC led a series of community meetings to brainstorm ideas with local residents.  Landscape architects from the AGER Group have since developed these ideas into formal construction documents.  The project is now making its way through the multi-year process of city funding.

So we asked, what might we do in the short term to suggest that transformation had begun?

In the summer of 2012, the CDRC hosted two architecture student interns from the Center of Community and Learning Partnerships at Wentworth Institute of Technology.  Leslie and Michael analyzed the site, and assessed that there were vertical surfaces — the chain link fence, the bare brick walls — that frame the view of Shirley Ave.  These surfaces might be transformed as first steps toward the permanent City gateway.  They again turned to the community for input.  Residents suggested strong preferences for introducing art that suggested the cultural vibrancy of the neighborhood today, and that celebrated the longstanding connection to Revere Beach.

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Building from these neighborhood concepts, Nikki Murphy, art teacher at the Garfield Middle School, worked with her students to create an installation for the MBTA fence.  The eighth graders painted nearly 90 different “Faces of Shirley Avenue,” capturing images of residents of all ages.  This temporary installation was hung in November 2013, and, will be in place for a few years.

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Meanwhile, in the summer of 2013, 30 residents took a leadership role in the Shirley Ave gateway project by overseeing the process for a permanent mural. This committee managed community input, selected the mural site, held a call for artists, and chose local artist, Alex Gerasev, to design and paint the mural.

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The mural will be the tangible result of a two-year process that has engaged hundreds of residents in conversations about how to best represent their neighborhood at its main entryway. The mural design highlights the history, diversity and vibrancy of the neighborhood and reinforces a positive neighborhood identity. And the installation will repurpose a brick wall into a work of art that welcomes residents and visitors into the neighborhood and promotes the business district.

Alex Gerasev is an artist and graphic designer whose work has been featured in galleries across the US and Europe. He resides in Revere.

THANK YOU to the Revere Cultural Council and local businesses for providing financial support, and to the many many volunteer designers, students, and community residents for providing ideas, inspiration, and effort.

The new gateway has begun.

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A dirt pile never looked so good.

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Construction is underway at 44 Woolson Street!  The City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development has officially transferred ownership to the Boston Natural Areas Network.  Though it doesn’t look very green now, gardeners will  plant this summer.

 

For those who have been following this design process, you’ll recognize ideas introduced at the Fit City design charrette at last November’s ABX conference have made their way through to the final design….

 

Growing Community at Woolson Street Lot

 

A post written by our friends at the Salem Public Space Project.  Thanks for sharing!

 

w02 Collective social consciousness of waste, sustainable resources, economics, and pollution have influenced stakeholders to take a broader view of many design professions, especially architecture, which uses the greatest amount of resources of human enterprises. Indeed,  LEED (the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) helps establish standards of responsible resource making and gathering at the onset of design, while the temporal scope of architecture has also expanded beyond the finished building; design professionals need to take responsibility for the future maintenance and, even, potential disposal of the structure. Maintenance of a private residence requires the ultimate initiative of the owner; for public projects, the community is tasked with ongoing stewardship. Uncared for parks demonstrate that municipal trash pick-up isn’t enough. So, in addition to the materials, and the foresight, we need to also design for engagement; community building is a social and spatial problem, and creative design can aid the rigorous community organization of so many neighborhood leaders, activists, and planners.

w03SPSP was happy to be part of such an effort of Saturday, May 3rd in Mattapan in collaboration with the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC),  Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, and neighbors.  We were also delighted to re-use four bright orange frames initially created for another project.

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In tandem with the “Boston Shines” city-wide clean-up effort, we erected creative signage on the lot to communicate the message that the planned community garden needs more gardeners. Design for social engagement is a compelling design challenge; the project is often a temporary installation, with no budget, infused with contextual issues and histories, inherently political, that seeks to reach a diverse number of people in circumstances that often hinder civic participation. On the Woolson Street lot, while volunteers cleaned up trash and weeded around daffodils, we posted signs that signal the beginning of the transformation of a lot that has a history of tragedy, and a desired future of community, safety, commemoration, and beautiful gardens!

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If you would like to support the community gardens proposed at the Woolson Street Lot – support the project at Make Architecture Happen! 

Our 200 Seeds Campaign — for $25, will you help grow peace?

We’ve entered crowd sourcing…

What we’ve heard from the Woolson Street neighborhood residents is a strong desire for a community garden AND.  AND a place to gather.  AND a place for kids to play.  AND a place to foster a new neighborhood identity.  AND a place to grow peace.

This vacant lot at 44 Woolson has been the site of great tragedy, part of the scene of a quadruple homicide in 2010.  We’re working with residents to transform this site to a positive story, encouraging new perceptions and healthy activities in this neighborhood.

The City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development is generously funding essential garden infrastructure:  water service, soil remediation, garden plots.  But their funds are restricted to that.

Enter the MassArt graduate Community Build Studio which , for the price of materials, will work with community members to design and construct extraordinary garden structures:  trellises, sun shelters, tables, seats, artistic fencing, signage, a gateway.  That studio will take place next summer, dependent on fundraising.

Enter Make Architecture Happen.  We’re aiming for $5,000 this month (a substantial step toward $20,000 total):

If 200 people “seed” our campaign with $25 each, we’ll be there.

Will you help us demonstrate the optimism of great design?

Will you help us grow peace?

 

DONATE HERE.

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Boston Shines

Join us on Saturday, May 3, 10am-1pm at 44 Woolson Street as we work with garden neighbors and friends to clean up the property and get it ready for construction.  It’s part of Boston Shines — an annual, city-wide clean up event.  What a great way to welcome Spring as well as the new garden!

The Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition and the Boston Natural Areas Network will be on hand to sign up folks who want to join the new community garden.

We will be there installing a handful of big orange frames to look something like this…  A means to draw neighborhood attention to and interest in this new garden.

Come grow with us!

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Woolson Street Garden Plans Underway

Over the past ten weeks, we’ve worked with residents, garden advocates, Mattapan activists, and City officials to generate and refine ideas for the layout of the new Woolson Street community garden.  Several priorities have been clear from the beginning:  the layout should be unique, creating spaces for neighbors to gather — to talk, to play, to share, to eat, to listen, to celebrate, to remember — as well as provide the infrastructure to grow vegetables.

Everyone contributed ideas during the initial layout brainstorm session, resulting in about twenty different schemes:

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Which were then synthesized into three options:

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Scheme “A” — the curved path, or the ‘fiddlehead’ scheme, was the runaway favorite.  Several variations on that scheme prompted discussion about details like path materials and the location of the raised beds and trees:

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Ray Dunetz Landscape Architects has taken these community preferences to the construction documents.  Now with technical considerations like the exact slope of the path and site drainage incorporated to the precise dimensions provided by the City’s engineering site survey (completed after the snow stopped falling in April), the revised scheme looks like this:

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Construction documents are nearly complete.  The project will go out to bid in May, with construction to begin in a few weeks.  Gardeners, get ready!  Plots will open in June.

Boston Strong

Renovate for Recovery and the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance are still going strong: 8 renovations underway, over 70 architect and design volunteers, dozens of engineers, occupational therapists, builders and contractors, vendors and suppliers….  an extraordinary effort, and we’ve really just begun.  The CDRC is honored to continue to work behind-the-scenes to help organize and support the design effort.  Thank you survivors for inviting us into your homes, thank you volunteers and donors for making this happen.

Are you a survivor in need of home modifications?  The program is still accepting applications.

Do you have expertise to share?  Products or materials to offer?  We need you!

Thank you Hallie Busta and Architect Magazine for helping spread the story.

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Architects Rally with Boston

A team of building professionals joined the state’s effort to bring accessible design into the homes of those injured in last year’s attack at the Boston Marathon.

Marathon Bombing Survivor’s Home Outfitted for Recovery

“Life with a prosthetic leg is one thing.  LIfe with a prosthetic leg when you’re on the third floor of a walk-up is another”

– Marathon survivor Karen Rand

WGBH radio (and Ask This Old House) covered the story of this Marathon survivor’s renovation — one of eight Renovate for Recovery projects currently underway.  A shout out and thank you to volunteer architect Michael McHugh and the whole Somerville project team!

Click here for the story.

Karen Rand greets the hosts of Ask This Old House at her Somerville home.

Karen Rand greets the hosts of Ask This Old House at her Somerville home.

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Wednesday 3/26 @BSA Space, 6-8pm

Engage: Boston Designs for Good

@ BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Boston
Part of Boston Design Week
Organized by the Community Design Resource Center of Boston (CDRC)

We have a TERRIFIC lineup, representing architecture/landscape/urban design firms large and small, some who make these issues the core of their practice, others for whom it’s a special side interest; some have embraced these ideas for decades; others are students and recent grads. Our lineup also includes a few non-profits and non-traditional practices.

Thanks to all for providing an inspiring evening:
Architecture for Humanity Boston
Artforming + Wentworth Institute of Technology – Center for Community + Learning Partnerships
Boston Architectural College – Gateway projects
CBA Landscape Architects
Klopfer Martin Design Group
MassArt – Community Build Studio
Rudy Bruner Design Award
Salem Public Space Project
Sasaki Associates
Studio G Architects
Studio Luz Architects
Sustainability Guild International
Utile
William Rawn Associates
Yayasan Kota Kita + Harvard GSD

 

What links everyone here is that they’re actively working to expand the reach of good design to all communities, and involving broad, diverse, new audiences in the design of our cities. WHAT they’re doing and/or HOW they’re doing it is what we’ll learn about Wednesday night.  Join us and be inspired.

Free & open to the public.