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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Congratulations to Finegold Alexander & Associates, Winners of the CDRC Gingerbread Design Competition!

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In a bidding war that continued into the final hours, Finegold Alexander & Associates and their “House of Pops” emerged victorious as the gingerbread house that collected the most donations.  Delicious!

Ruhl Walker Architects with “Prefab-ulicious” and designLAB Architects with the “House of Cards” provided stiff competition, ultimately placing second and third, respectively.

THANK YOU to all of the gingerbread bidders and bakers!  UMass Dartmouth Department of Planning, Design, and Construction (“The Island of Misfit Toys”), Wilson Architects (the “Up” House), and O’Leary, O’Leary, Williams, and Seminelli (“Gummy Bears on Holiday”), you proved once again that great architecture need not only be in concrete, wood, or steel.  And an extra special THANKS to our youngest neighbors at Bright Horizons Seaport and our young Learning by Design friends at Roslindale’s Sumner Elementary School:  we look forward to someday seeing your creative constructions in more permanent materials.

We exceeded our goal — Thank you!  This sweet fundraiser will indeed support serious work.  Please send us ideas!  We look forward to working with you in 2014.

Happy Holidays!

What might “Fit City Boston” be? The CDRC Design Charrette at ABX Advances that Conversation

fit city charrette_11-21-2013_01At the Fit City Design Charrette at ABX on November 21, over 50 design professionals, public health advocates, and neighborhood residents brainstormed ideas for how to transform a handful of underutilized Mattapan sites into places that support active and healthy living.  A number of concepts emerged, incorporating elements of community gardens and urban farming, as well as play and exercise spaces.  Special attention was paid to connecting sites to each other to create a neighborhood network, and to connecting these sites to other existing and planned neighborhood amenities, like the Neponset River and the Fairmont Greenway.

All sites studied are real places that the City of Boston and others are hoping to transform into community spaces, depending on input from the neighborhood.

Ideas generated at the Charrette will be taken to neighborhood meetings for further discussion, and will be used to inform the ongoing planning processes.

A special THANK YOU to Woolson Street area residents, to Pastor Zephir and the Greater Boston Nazarene Compassionate Center, and to professionals from the Boston Public Health Commission, the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Transportation Department, the Boston Natural Areas Network, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Trust for Public Land, ReVision Urban Farm, the Fairmont Greenway Initiative, Enterprise Community Partners, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, and the Salem Public Space Project for participating in the Fit City Charrette conversation!

Community Planning Continues in Egleston Square

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A Letter from Egleston Square Main Street board member Galen Moore:

Hello Neighbors-

I’m writing with an update on the efforts of Egleston Square Main Street and numerous community partners to pull together a vision and ideas for new development along Washington Street, area between Chilcott and Montebello that is zoned for industrial use.

First, thank YOU for participating. Here’s what we’ve done together so far:

  • Over the summer, we collected 50 surveys both online and in print, in English and Spanish.
  • We worked with half a dozen community groups, attended several neighborhood meetings and hosted our own discussion at the YMCA.
  • We got input on height, use, affordability, open space, traffic and a host of other issues that are important to residents and business owners in this neighborhood.

Since September, we’ve been working with Community Design Resource Center to recruit volunteer architects to help take the community’s input and turn it into a vision.

We’re excited to announce we’ve succeeded in that effort. Drew Kane of Utile and Nick Hornig of NBBJ Boston have agreed to help put together conceptual designs that reflect neighborhood input. They both worked with Boston Architectural College students this year on a planning effort that stretched along the entire Washington Street corridor. We’re very excited to have them on board in this effort that is focused on the blocks between Chilcott and Montebello.

We’re now planning to bring a new presentation, including conceptual drawings, back for neighborhood discussion by the early spring. We’re also working to gather input from real estate developers in the area, in order to have a better understanding of what might be possible in Egleston Square.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be pulling together some of the things we learned through our surveys and community discussions. I’ll publish those here and on our Facebook page: facebook.com/WashingtonCommunityPlan, where you can also go to find regular updates on how the process is going.

Galen Moore

2nd Annual CDRC GINGERBREAD HOUSE DESIGN COMPETITION, EXHIBITION, + AUCTION

Architecture and design firms, schools, and individuals are invited to submit entries to the second annual CDRC Gingerbread House Design Competition, Exhibition, + Auction.

CLICK HERE TO see the 2013 winner.

THANK YOU ALL!

Submissions will be displayed at 290 Congress Street at BSA Space and in Waterfront Square from December 9 – December 22, 2013 (open seven days, 10am-6pm M-F, 10am-5pm weekends).  During this time, donations can be made online and in person in support of the houses. Donations of ANY size welcome and all donations count; this works like a “people’s choice”:  the house that generates the most in total donations will be declared winner. The individual who provides the highest donation for each house may decide the post-show fate of that house.   Additional award categories may be recognized.  All proceeds benefit the Community Design Resource Center of Boston.

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RULES

1   Entries must be constructed on a 2’x2’ piece of ¾” plywood covered in tinfoil

2   Entries must fit within a 2’ x 2’ x 2’ cube (the size of our display cases)

3   Other than the plywood base and tinfoil, all components must be edible

All Boston-area design firms + designers are welcome to submit and there is no entry fee.  We ask that interested folks commit to participating by November 25th in order to coordinate display requirements.

Contact CDRC executive director Gretchen Schneider at gschneider@architects.org or 617 686 4362 with questions and to confirm interest.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Confirmation of interest                                                          Monday, November 25

Entries due to BSA Space                                                         Friday, December 6, 5:00pm

Exhibit + Auction Open                                                            Monday, December 9

Designers’ Reception                                                               Tuesday, December 10, 5:30pm

Fort Point Holiday Stroll                                                           Friday, December 13, 4:00-8:00pm

Learning by Design Family Design DayGingerbread Edition       Saturday, December 14, 10:30am-12:30pm

Auction Closes                                                                        Sunday, December 22, midnight

Competition Winner Announced                                               Monday, December 23

Starting December 9, the auction will be online at www.cdrcboston.org/gingerbread

Sign up for the Learning by Design Family Design Day at (link coming soon)….

The photo above features the 2012 CDRC Gingerbread Design Competition winner – a gingerbread aquarium, created by Cambridge Seven Architects.  In the background are houses by Handlin, Garrahan & Associates; Scot/Griffin Architects; and Oudens Ello Architecture.  Out of view are works by designLAB; Machado & Silvetti Associates; TRO Jung Brannen; over, under; and Pocket Change Design Collaborative.

Gingerbread 2013! on view + auction through 12/22

2nd Annual CDRC GINGERBREAD HOUSE DESIGN COMPETITION is underway, EXHIBITION is open, AUCTION is live!

CLICK HERE TO BID….

Architecture and design firms, schools, and individuals have submitted entries to the second annual CDRC Gingerbread House Design Competition, Exhibition, + Auction.

Submissions will be displayed at 290 Congress Street at BSA Space from December 9 – December 22, 2013 (open seven days, 10am-6pm M-F, 10am-5pm weekends).  During this time, donations can be made online and in person in support of the houses. Donations of ANY size welcome and all donations count; this works like a ‘people’s choice’:  the house that generates the most in total donations will be declared winner. Donations are 100% tax-deductible. The individual who provides the highest donation for each house may decide the post-exhibit fate of that house.   Additional award categories may be recognized.  All proceeds benefit the Community Design Resource Center of Boston.

Contact CDRC executive director Gretchen Schneider at gschneider@architects.org or 617 686 4362 with questions.

The exhibition is free and open to the public.

PLEASE JOIN US!

Exhibit + Auction Open                                                            Monday, December 9

Designers’ Reception                                                               Tuesday, December 10, 5:30pm

Fort Point Holiday Stroll                                                           Friday, December 13, 4:00-8:00pm

Learning by Design Family Design DayGingerbread Edition       Saturday, December 14, 10:30am-12:30pm

Auction Closes                                                                        Sunday, December 22, midnight

Competition Winner Announced                                               Monday, December 23

Sign up for the Learning by Design Family Design Day here.

The photo above features the 2012 CDRC Gingerbread Design Competition winner – a gingerbread aquarium, created by Cambridge Seven Architects. 

Mayor Menino Launched FIT CITY BOSTON

In anticipation of our FIT CITY BOSTON Design Charrette at ABX, the CDRC is pleased to share this May 2013 press release from the Boston Public Health Commission:

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FIT CITY BOSTON Initiative to Make City’s Built Environment Healthier

Kickoff Summit at BSA Space Convenes 150 Local and National Experts

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today launched Fit City Boston, an initiative to examine how Boston’s urban environment impacts resident health, and to set a plan for transforming Boston into the healthiest city in America. The initiative will examine how community design, social policies, and resource distribution impact daily choices and physical health.

More than 150 local and national planners, architects, developers, public officials, academics, and residents discussed the great strides that Boston has made in promoting health and health equity, and participants worked throughout the day to chart the next steps for building on this progress.

“Some factors that affect health are personal decisions, but others are out of an individual’s control – like whether there are spaces to walk and play outside,” Mayor Menino said. “We already have many of the world’s leading health institutions and leaders in design, planning and development here in Boston, as well as a revitalized harbor and world-class parks system. Fit City Boston will bring all these resources together to help ensure our city’s built environment allows all Bostonians to achieve their optimal health.”

More than half adult Bostonians are obese or overweight, which can lead to preventable chronic health conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and asthma. Black, Latino, and other communities of color, as well as vulnerable populations, are disproportionately affected by these diseases. For example, the hospitalization rate for asthma among Black children under age 5 is four times the rate of White children. These health problems cannot be solved by public health or health care alone. Solutions are embedded in community design, social policies, and resource distribution that impact the choices residents have and make every day.

“Fit City Boston recognizes that how communities are designed and developed directly affects which residents have easy access to physical activity, nutritious food, healthy housing, and clean air,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, a member of the initiative steering committee. “While we work to improve individual and community health, it is increasingly important that we focus on the physical places where we live, work, and play, and their effect on health, as well. Fit City Boston gives us the opportunity to get new perspectives and tap into new resources for our work.”

The Fit City Boston initiative will:

  • Build on the best examples of work already underway to improve Boston’s built environment to improve health.
  • Promote the exchange of ideas for building healthier, more sustainable and more equitable urban environments in Boston with positive economic development and business results.
  • Develop plans to take best practices to scale, institutionalize proven ideas, and set a big picture vision for future work.

Partners in the initiative include the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Boston Transportation Department, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, the Boston Society of Architects, Enterprise Community Partners, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The summit was sponsored by Boston Properties and The Boston Foundation.

“Boston is truly fortunate to be the “living lab” for many researchers from our great academic institutions,” said Dr. John D. Spengler, professor and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health and today’s keynote speaker. “Working with city schools to reduce obesity, with the housing authorities on asthma, pest control and smoking cessation, planning agencies on climate adaptation and citizens of South Boston and Chinatown concerned with traffic impacts on their health, faculty and students are helping to shape Boston’s future.”

“As the ultimate goal of sustainable design is the health, happiness, and safety of people, social sustainability and environmental justice must fit within the Boston Society of Architects’ advocacy agenda. This summit presents a great opportunity for the BSA and our partners to contribute to one of Mayor Menino’s lifetime legacy projects: making Boston a healthier place to live,” said Mike Davis, president of the Boston Society of Architects. “As we convene with multidisciplinary experts from the Boston Public Health Commission, the Harvard School of Public Health, Partners HealthCare, Enterprise Community Partners, and many other private and public organizations, we hope this will be the beginning of a transformational exchange of ideas.”

The initiative is modeled after Fit City New York, which is co-hosted by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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Park & Gardens Rise Over Parking in Open Space Charrette

Several dozen South Boston residents gathered Saturday morning to sketch ideas for how the back-to-back City-owned parcels at 174 West 2nd Street and 175 West 1st Street might be redesigned as public park, community gardens, parking lot, or some combination of the three. This is the latest step in a longer conversation between the Department of Neighborhood Development and area residents about what the future of these currently vacant properties should be. Several different schemes emerged, exploring ideas like a large neighborhood lawn to meandering paths to grills and gardens (farm to table doesn’t get more direct!) to overlooks that take advantage of the sloping site and the public courtyard next door. Alternately, if the lots were maxed out for parking, the neighborhood would only gain 34 parking spots — a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the several thousand housing units soon to be finished nearby. All those incoming new residents mean that public parks and gardens will be all the more valuable, too. Next steps include the residents who participated today discussing these ideas with their neighbors; DND is looking to the community to guide how these parcels get improved.

While there’s naturally some disagreement over details of what to do, and no doubt there will be more passionate positions expressed as redesign gets closer and closer to reality, that’s all normal. It’s fantastic that so many residents are willing to share their time and ideas. It’s fantastic that the City is listening so closely to residents’ hopes, concerns, and suggestions for the parcels. And it’s fantastic that so many members of Boston’s design community were willing to share their time and expertise with residents today. A special thank you to the architects, landscape architects, and urban designers from Utile, Ground, Gamble Associates, Warner Larson, and designLAB. We look forward to the conversation continuing!

 

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