Skip to Content

Building Boston: The storefront gallery @BSASpace

Exhibition Opening:
To be determined
Exhibition Closing:
To be determined

Building Boston: The storefront gallery @BSASpace

The development of BSA Space’s storefront gallery

About the model
In the 1970s, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) created a model of the City of Boston—called Building Boston—to show off the city’s growing skyline, but by the early 1980s, it was put it into deep storage. Then, to assist with security planning for the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the model—with its bird’s-eye view of Boston’s streetscape—was cleaned and updated, only to be returned to the vaults when the conventioneers left town. Recognizing its value as a way to understand and enjoy Boston’s evolving cityscape, the Boston Society of Architects/AIA, the BSA Foundation, and the BRA decided in 2013 to make the model available once again for public viewing. After careful restoration and updating by CBT Architects, this historic model has found a contemporary home in the storefront gallery of BSA Space.

About the panels
Gracing the north wall of the Storefront Gallery at BSA Space are a series of panels highlighting five of Boston’s diverse neighborhoods. These panels complement the model in the center of the space. While the model focuses on Boston’s urban core and a few of its adjacent (and therefore best-known) communities, the replica is missing most of the 26 official neighborhoods that make up the City of Boston. Each of these areas offers a unique contribution to Boston’s story, and stands out as a dynamic center where local pride and international cultures are celebrated. A few of these, along with snippets from their histories and a few of their newest projects, are highlighted on the panels. Also featured are current noteworthy development projects underway and a description of the community engagement that shaped them. Currently on view are Allston/Brighton, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. Neighborhood panels will spotlight every one of them. 

Building Boston, like the city itself, is a work in progress. Additional exhibition components will be developed and unveiled throughout its time on display. Videos and vibrant infographics will highlight the city’s urban history while exploring recent developments in neighborhoods throughout the region.

Have your say
We invite all visitors to share questions or insights about Boston architecture. We will use this feedback to guide the development of this exhibition. On view in the alcove is a full map of Boston with a rotating series of prompts asking viewers to give feedback on the state of the built environment of Boston. Pop over for a visit and ask the gallery staff for more information.

Also on view:

Coastal Flooding: Reality, Risk + Opportunity

Boston has always been defined by its harbor and its relationship with the water, a relationship which continues to grow and change.  Scientists predict that by the end of this century, Boston will experience three to 6 feet of sea-level rise. This change will alter the city’s streets and buildings, the landscapes and neighborhoods in ways that we can only begin to imagine. The storefront gallery at BSA Space features a primer on sea-level rise, highlighting its causes and consequences.  Meanwhile, upstairs will highlight the finalists of the Boston Living with Water—and international design competition to envision Boston in the year 2100—after the winners are announced on June 8.

This spring, BSA Space worked with key partners to explore one of the most distinct effects of climate change in coastal cities: sea-level rise. The Boston Living with Water project includes an international competition, and is jointly organized by The City of Boston, The Boston Redevelopment Authority, The Boston Harbor Association, and the Boston Society of Architects. Programs related to BLwW are produced by the BSA Foundation.


BSA Foundation: Engaging communities

The BSA Foundation is dedicated to sustaining Boston as a leading global city that employs design thinking to identify and implement best practices to address large urban issues such as sea level rise and climate change. Foundation programs, such as this design charrette focused on making East Boston more resilient, are bringing leading architects and engineers from around the world to share ideas, insights, and experiences to address our coastal city's future.


Photo: Paige McWhorter.