At the ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABx) this week, Sasaki leadership participated in two panels. The first, led by Sasaki principals James Miner and David Hacin, explored the landscape of innovation in Boston. The second, in which Sasaki principal Victor Vizgaitis joined representatives from the city and the community, was about the project underway to repurpose the iconic Ferdinand building in Dudley Square as the new headquarters for the Boston Public Schools. Together, these talks illustrated the assemblage of old and new in Boston—and Sasaki's ability to navigate our fascinating, multifaceted city.
In Innovation City, James and David built upon issues raised in a recent issue of ArchitectureBoston, for which David served as guest editor, and a thought-leadership panel that Sasaki and Hacin Associates hosted at the BSA in April. At ABx, the duo presented several case studies about the relationship between innovation and place. They explored RadLab's journey around Boston to find the best space for them, Allen & Gerritsen's new office in the Innovation District, the movement from traditional office spaces to co-working spaces, and the Boston Innovation Center currently under construction.
allen & gerritsen
James then shared data and insights about where innovation occurs in Boston and why. Using several data sets—including an interactive mapping survey, information from the US Patent and Trademark office, and assessment of local companies and organizations—James and a team of Sasaki practitioners were able to define hubs of innovation in the Boston area and their relationship to amenities such as restaurants, green space, institutions, and housing. The findings are compelling—but raise more questions than they answer. To pose your own questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
In Revitalizing Dudley Square, Victor joined Maureen Anderson from the City of Boston, Natasha Espada from Leers Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Catherine Hardaway from the Dudley Vision Advisory Task Force, and Kairos Shen from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The talk spanned the history of Dudley Square, but focused on the current effort to revitalize the area. Two capital projects anchoring this effort are the recently completed police department and the rehabilitation and infill of the Ferdinand building, currently underway, which will become a municipal facility housing the headquarters of the Boston Public Schools and several community-oriented amenities.
The programming of the new facility is a direct response to the community's input. Retail at the ground floor, for example, increased from 8,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet to accommodate the community's desire for activity to continue past the nine-to-five workday. Victor spoke about the design strategies that integrate the historic building elements with new construction to create a building that is contemporary yet in keeping with Boston's distinctive aesthetic. He also talked about ways in which the design invites the community into the space. Copious glazing, a double-height lobby, and community access to the rooftop terrace all impart a sense of openness.
An underlying theme of both presentations was the importance of asking questions and challenging assumptions. In this city, where innovation springs up from unassuming places, things are hardly predictable.