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.


Thank you TBHA, Sasaki, + Sea Change















A special thank you to our partners and sponsors:  The charrette was created in close collaboration with The Boston Harbor Association, in close concert with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the City of Boston, and the Boston Living with Water International Design Competition planning team, and was sponsored by Sasaki.  Not only did Sasaki provide tasty fuel for the feverish charrette activity, but also they shared their immensely valuable research from Sea Change and Designing with Water.  The Urban Land Institute, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, and Eskew + Dumez + Ripple all shared copies of their recent resiliency reports, too.

Thank you.


A standing-room-only crowd envisioned Boston Living with Water at the ABX Design Charrette


Thank you to the 120+ architects, landscape architects, planners, engineers, scientists, students, public officials, and urban leaders who donated their afternoon on October 29 — the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy — to thinking about how three different Boston sites might be reconfigured to accommodate rising seas AND encourage vibrant, beautiful communities.


Twelve teams tackled three different sites, chosen because they represent a range of different conditions and design opportunities:  (from north to south)

Liberty Plaza, near Central Square, East Boston;

the public plaza at Long Wharf, Downtown Boston/North End;

Joe Moakely Park, South Boston.


The Living with Water design COMPETITION, launched the same day, asks entrants to focus on a similar spectrum of representative sites along the Boston Harbor.  The charrette and competition are designed to complement each other, and both encourage “Living with Water” ideas.  That is, not to wall off sea level rise, nor retreat, but instead imagine ways in which chronic flooding might be incorporated into an urban setting.


In 2015, the CDRC will develop neighborhood workshops based on ideas from the design charrette.  We will pilot this in East Boston, working with Chris Marchi and the youth of the Chelsea Creek Action Group at NOAH, supported by a grant from the BSA Foundation.

Please join us – October 29, 1-4pm +

Calling all Boston-area designers, scientists, activists, and citizens –

Please join us for the CDRC’s third annual public design charrette at ArchitectureBoston Expo.  This year’s topic:



It’s a familiar refrain: if Superstorm Sandy had hit a few hours earlier (or later), Boston would have flooded all the way to City Hall.  Seas are rising, storm severity is increasing, and coastal cities need to grapple with an increasingly wet world.

“Living With Water” resilient design, popularized in The Netherlands and elsewhere, is part of the solution. On Sandy’s second anniversary, join us for a hands-on design workshop to imagine how a future, wetter Boston will be different–and maybe even better.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

charrette kickoff:  1pm

reception & team presentations: 4pm

ABX session SB2

part of ArchitectureBoston Expo

Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hall C

415 Summer Street, Boston, MA  02210

Free and open to the public, but space is limited. Registration is required.  To RSVP, visit www.abexpo.com/exhibit-hall/design-charrette.  Architects may earn continuing education credits through self-report.

The LIVING WITH WATER DESIGN CHARRETTE is hosted by the Community Design Resource Center in partnership with The Boston Harbor Association and the Boston Society of Architects.

The CHARRETTE is conducted in conjunction with the Boston Living with Water International Design Competition, organized by The Boston Harbor Association, the City of Boston, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and the Boston Society of Architects, with generous support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Barr Foundation.

The International Design Competition will launch at the Charrette — October 29 — the two year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.  Participants may choose to participate in the Charrette and/or the Competition.  Please note that registration two the two events is separate, and participation in one does not affect participation in the other.  The Charrette offers the opportunity for designers to explore Living with Water concepts, that they might develop in-depth for the Competition.  The CDRC aims to use materials generated at the Charrette to create neighborhood-based workshops in 2015, AND add another layer to the lively civic discussion about resiliency already underway.


Both photos: Long Wharf, Boston, at “Wicked High Tide” — the twice-monthly lunar high tide, September 2014

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.


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.






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.



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.

2014-05-30 11.55.04_shirley

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.

2014-06-24 13.21.29 2014-06-24 13.20.062014-06-24 13.25.38

A dirt pile never looked so good.

woolson progress_6-27-14


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.


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!


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?



Continue reading

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!

design concept summary_Page_10



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:

2014-03-13 13.23.32 - Copy

Which were then synthesized into three options:

woolson sketch A - Copy woolson sketch B - Copy woolson sketch C

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:

a2 - Copy a1 - Copy


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:

garden sketch_4-25-2014 - Copy

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.