Each quarter, the Sasaki Foundation convenes leaders from the Boston area to converse on topics related to the built environment. The panels are held in the Incubator at Sasaki, a flexible research studio and co-working space curated by the Sasaki Foundation. At this event, Ryan Edwards of MASARY Studios, Kara Elliot-Ortega of the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, Ellen Shakespear of Space Us, and Katie Sullivan of Boylston Properties unpacked what it means to activate the public realm. The panel was moderated by Sasaki associate principal Kate Tooke, ASLA, PLA.
Tooke prompted the panelists to discuss how they activate public spaces such as parks, plazas, and storefronts. They brought up several issues to consider when programming public space, including providing funding for local artists, recognizing a place’s nuanced history, and supporting those at risk of displacement.
The panelists all agreed on the importance of working with members of the communities where activation projects take place. Sullivan, who is part of the team developing Arsenal Yards in Watertown, spoke about listening to feedback from the Watertown community on what they want to see in a public space and how they would like to see their community’s history honored. When asked about how to avoid excluding communities in space activations, Elliot-Ortega suggested handing over the reins: “People feeling welcome in a space has to do with who’s actually making those decisions.” Tooke added, “When we think about public process, we like to think about flora and fauna as public constituents.”
Read more about the discussion on the Sasaki Foundation’s blog.