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MakeTank at ABX: Conor MacDonald of the BSA

Next in our series on MakeTank at ABX, we sit down with Conor MacDonald, Director of Member Relations at the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) to learn about the origins and future of MakeTank at the BSA.

Tell us about how the BSA participates in Boston’s design community.

The BSA has over 4,000 members that are architects and other professionals in the architectural industry. The BSA is a place to connect all of these individuals to inspire each other, advocate for the profession, and push each other forward. Throughout the year, members host initiatives, roundtables and, networking meetings on almost any design topic imaginable. MakeTank came onto the scene this year as one of our most vibrant and active groups.

You played a critical role in creating the MakeTank committee at the BSA. What made you a champion of it?

We get a substantial amount of proposals to create committees. For a proposed committee to become official, over ten people have to attend the first meeting. The first MakeTank meeting had 50 attendees. I could tell from my early interactions that Brad Prestbo and the founders of MakeTank had a vision and understanding of how making was going to change the architectural field as a whole. I could also tell that they have the passion and charisma to bring their vision into reality. MakeTank really embodies the ability for a community to come together through design and building.

What was the impetus for asking the committee to develop a demonstration pavilion?

The BSA also produces ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX), which is a gathering of architecture professionals in the New England area and beyond that hosts talks, demonstrations, and panels. In the past five years, we’ve been carving out spaces on the tradeshow floor, which is typically reserved for product showcases, to show off innovative and cutting-edge thinking. MakeTank was a perfect fit for this initiative because they’re really pushing the envelope and have had tremendous results.

After seeing MakeTank’s creations this year, how do you envision them contributing to the BSA in the future?

I think that this experience proves I can’t imagine exactly what it would look like. It’s been exciting at every turn to see what MakeTank will do. The group pitched exhibiting at ABX to us, and, to be honest, I had my doubts that they could achieve all that they said they could. But their group had so much passion and momentum they were able to succeed. I’m very excited to see what they think up for years to come.

What are you most excited to see at ABX this year?

One of the things I’m most excited about is these built structures. I watched the barn raising, so to speak, of the MakeTank pavilion, which was so thrilling and rewarding. There are a few workshops on subjects in the thick of things: an affordable housing panel, a design for equity charrette, and a business roundtable. There’s a great range of events at ABX this year, and I’m going to be very busy for the next few days taking it all in.

Anything else you want to share?

The richness and enthusiasm within the maker community in particular—and Boston’s design community in general—can make extraordinary things happen.  Sasaki is an especially inclusive and passionate firm that is always active in the design community. I encourage people to look outside of their firms to see all the amazing things that are going on. It’s fun and it makes the profession better!

This is the second post in a series on MakeTank at ABX 2016. You can read the first post here.

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