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2017 Placemaking Network Seminar Series

4th Monday of the month, 6:00-7:30pm

January 23, 2017
Wharf District Public Realm Vision One of the oldest and most historically significant waterfronts in New England, the Downtown Waterfront is at the forefront of active transition. Spurred by the success of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the neighborhood has been at the center of residential and commercial development interests. The panel will discuss the aspirations of the Wharf District Council and other stakeholders, and share the vision and strategy for a “window to the harbor” transformation that will be the pride of Boston, attracting businesses, residents and visitors while responding to climate change. Panelists include Bob Uhlig ASLA of Halvorson Design Partnership, Marc Margulies AIA of Margulies Perruzzi Architects and Wharf District Council, and Jill Valdes Harwood of Boston Harbor Now.

February 27, 2017
Public Art and Placemaking in Portland Maine: Collaboration is the Key​
Portland, Maine looks and feels different than it did a decade ago. As the city grows in population and as a destination for cultural tourism, how do organizations dedicated to the enrichment of the built environment appropriately respond and become agents of civic identity? During this talk, two members of Portland’s public art and ciy planning community, Anne Marie Purkey Levine, Public Art Project Manager and Caitlin Cameron, Urban Designer, City of Portland, Maine, will discuss temporary and permanent projects that have used collaborative strategies between artists, designers, and public/private partnerships to foster innovative outcomes. 

March 27, 2017
Congress Square/Quaker Lane Redevelopment
Construction is underway on Related Beal’s and Arrowstreet’s additions and renovations to six buildings at the corners of Water Street, Devonshire Street, and Congress Street into a new 13-story boutique hotel and a mix of offices, residential units, retail and restaurant spaces. The conversion will bring 24-hour activity to an area historically dominated by financial institutions. In their Boston Planning and Development Agency filing, Related Beal says, “From their original conception in the late 19th century as bank buildings, the existing buildings have conveyed an image of grandeur and security. For the last 40 years, these buildings have been restricted to private use and turned inward, cut off from the surrounding neighborhood and streets. The design for Congress Square restores these buildings and Quaker Lane to a destination within the heart of downtown Boston.” Quaker Lane will be converted from an underutilized service way into a European-style pedestrian area lined with new lobby entrances and storefronts opening to outdoor dining areas; with suspended cable lighting between buildings, cobble pavers, sculptural seating and landscaping. Speakers Stephen Faber, executive vice president of Related Beal, and Scott Pollack, principal of Arrowstreet, will present the details of this project and the exciting transformation of its public realm. 

April 24, 2017
Boston's Creek Square and Siena's Piazza del Campo: Placemaking Potential and Realization
What do these two very dissimilar spaces have in common? In imitation of Colin Rowe’s “Mathematics of the Ideal Villa,” Robert Tullis AIA will analyze the distinctive place characteristics of Siena’s famed Piazza del Campo and Boston’s almost unknown Creek Square. By comparing the two, he will highlight the potential of Creek Square to become a distinctive place, with many of the same characteristics present in Siena. Along the way, he will outline the topographic history of Creek Square, discuss place characteristics derived from the research of scholars like Camillo Sitte and Kevin Lynch, show the way others have diagrammed such characteristics, and even posit a few thoughts about the nearby and much-maligned City Hall Plaza, whose original design was inspired by Siena’s Piazza del Campo.
Robert Tullis is the Senior VP and Director of Design for the Boston-based GID Development Group where he oversees all design aspects of the GID’s multifamily and mixed-use projects. He has been involved in the design of several mixed-use projects that feature placemaking as an essential component. Mr. Tullis is chairperson of the BSA's Placemaking Network and has developed a course in Placemaking for the Boston Architectural College which focuses on the creation of vibrant, attractive, and memorable places within cities and towns and transforming them from SPACE into PLACE. 
For a PDF of this presentation's text, click here. For a PDF of the presentation images, click here

May 22, 2017
Jamaica Plain Porchfest: A place-based celebration of community
The activation of place is a central concern of placemaking. Jamaica Plain Porchfest, an annual summer weekend festival, celebrates music and the arts in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Co-organizer Mindy Fried will discuss this arts-based initiative from the perspective of a sociologist. One of about 50 similar community-based events around the country, JP Porchfest has a unique mission: to bring people together across the divides of race, class, culture, and immigrant status, through the power of the arts. In 2016, JP Porchfest featured 400-500 performers of all arts and performance disciplines on over 80 porches. 
The presentation offers an insider’s perspective on the evolution of this place-based festival over the past three years including the following aspects: use of non-traditional venues as stages and gallery spaces; the festival’s expansion beyond music to include theatre, dance, storytelling, spoken word, comedy, a politician’s porch and more; increased engagement and endorsement from diverse community leaders; residents as performers, porch hosts, “porch fun managers”, and audience; and the active pursuit of diversity among those who participate in a variety of roles to make the festival a success. 
Further, Mindy’s presentation and ensuing discussion will hone in on establishing this community-building arts initiative as a new “tradition”, the need for community connection, and the desire of residents for opportunities in participatory arts engagement.
Mindy Fried, Ph.D. is a sociologist and Principal of Arbor Consulting Partners (, 
where she designs and implements evaluation research initiatives and conducts strategic planning efforts for nonprofit organizations and foundations. She also produces music/arts festivals in Boston, aimed at bringing people together across race, culture and class. 
Mindy is the author of Caring for Red: A Daughter’s Memoir (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016), and Taking Time: Parental Leave Policy and Corporate Culture (Temple University Press, 1998).
To download a PDF of this meeting's flier, click here.

June 26, 2017
The New Urban Farm at the Historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, Mattapan
The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is a vacant and distressed Boston Landmark with two historic buildings and abundant open space. The site is being repurposed as a training center for prospective commercial urban farmers, and as a place where the public can learn how to grow and prepare good local food. The project restores the 18th century house for offices and meeting spaces, and the 19th century carriage barn for a classroom and teaching kitchen and the 10,000 sf of land as growing beds and greenhouse for the training program.
The project is a unique multi-disciplinary partnership of Historic Boston Inc. (owner and developer), the Urban Farming Institute (lessee and operator), The Trust for Public Land (farm and greenhouse construction), and North Bennet Street School (preservation carpentry). Members of the team, along with their building and landscape architects, will present the details and challenges of this property’s renewal and talk about its potential to create a distinctive place and to influence broader neighborhood change in Mattapan.
For a full-color flier of this event, click here!