For nearly 120 years the Society of Arts and Crafts has had the dual mission of encouraging the creation, collection, and promotion of the work of contemporary craft artists and advancing public appreciation of fine craft.
The Society's move to a new space in Boston's Seaport District from the historic Back Bay neighborhood not only marks a major milestone in the institution's history but also symbolizes the impact of Boston's technology boom on the city's cultural landscape and creative economies.
Principal in Charge on the project, Christine Dunn, AIA, reflects, "this was a complete partnership with the Society from beginning to end. We delved deep to understand the Society's mission and ethos before aiding in the hunt for a new space, designing it, rethinking their outdoor programming, and rebranding the organization with revitalized positioning and an updated look and feel. There is both immense heritage and capacity for sustained innovation within the Society's community and with new digs and brand identity there's no telling what this organization can do for the Seaport, Boston, and our creative community."
The Hunt, Design, and Branding
Sasaki guided the client through the process of obtaining the space through a public RFI process organized by the building owner and Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). The call for civic and cultural facilities was underscored by the South Boston Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan, which ensures that civic and cultural uses will balance the scale of new private development along the water's edge. The Society's bold vision for the future and a holistic strategy for maximizing the space and its urban location ultimately won them the space.
The new 9,000 square foot space at 100 Pier 4 includes museum quality exhibition galleries, a retail store, a research library, event space, an artist-in-residence studio, storage, support and staff offices as well as an outdoor sculpture plaza for the organization's public programming.
In addition to designing the space, the Sasaki team developed a new brand identity and messaging strategy that serves to reposition the Society for its second century in Boston. This new brand identity and messaging draws from the strength of the Society's deeply rooted history while forging a new path for future growth and prosperity. The newly crafted plus-sign pattern became the inspiration for expressing the Society's visual identity across the 160 linear feet of glass frontage. Likewise, a new sculptural metal canopy back-lit and perforated with the Society's brand pattern brings attention to an otherwise understated main entrance.
This new state-of-the-art location in Boston's innovation district will offer the Society a vibrant new context to broaden its visibility and programming and continue its legacy into the future as one of the great cornerstones of Boston's evolving creative community. And for the Seaport district, which continues to brim with development potential, the Society will serve as a rich cultural amenity for the burgeoning neighborhood.
A New Chapter Amidst A Rebirth of Craft
"While it is certainly hard to leave a historic neighborhood such as Boston's Back Bay, entering the Seaport is symbolically representative of the direction the SAC is taking. Craft is back with a vengeance and the interest in the process of making and the community of makers who are pushing the envelope on what's possible only continues to grow. As we head into a new age of craft we relish the challenge of helping to shape the contours of a still undefined neighborhood," says Fabio Fernandez, Executive Director, Society of Arts and Crafts. "The Seaport has potential to be a true destination if people are drawn to stay there. We have every intention of providing Boston with an inspiring new space to return to again and again for both respite and rejuvenation."
When Charles Eliot Norton, then known as the world's most cultivated man, became the inaugural chairman of the Society of Arts and Crafts, his vision was to reignite the American imagination with power of making. He established for the organization its first mandate, which read, in part, "to stimulate an appreciation of the dignity and value of good design."
Those words are as relevant today as they were more than a century ago—especially, in South Boston, where a new energy, focused on innovative design and fabrication, is reshaping the community, and with it, Boston's reputation.
The new Society of Arts and Crafts will open its doors to the public during it's grand opening event on October 6, from 6:00 - 9:00PM. This event also presents the Society's inaugural exhibition "Radius" featuring the work of artists working in all mediums who live or work within a one mile radius of 100 Pier 4. For more information see http://www.societyofcrafts.org/