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A Quarter More: Exploring Density in Metro Boston Kick-Off

BSA Diagram

Image Credit: OverUnder

  • COST

    Free and open to the public

  • TYPE

    Knowledge Community



About the Kick-off

The Boston Society for Architecture (BSA), through its Urban Design Committee, seeks volunteers to work with municipal partners in Boston, Cambridge and Everett to examine possibilities for increased density and the necessary considerations for this growth. Assuming that we need to increase density in our municipalities by about 25% in order to accommodate a growing population, each team will be asked to consider the implications of this increase by itself and to examine how this will impact related issues of walkability and transportation, affordability, economic opportunity and infrastructure needs. What will these changes mean for residents and the neighborhood in the coming five, ten, fifteen, and twenty-five years?

This kick-off will take place on Tuesday, March 22 from 5:30PM-7:00PM at BSA Space and marks the start of a three-month urban design initiative (full schedule below). During this initial event, BSA Staff and Urban Design Committee co-chairs will introduce attendees to the Urban Design Workshop focus and hear directly from each municipality. Attendees will be able to meet with one another, ask questions to municipal partners, and express interest in forming a specific team and/or site focus. Shortly after, the BSA will form multi-disciplinary teams of 3-6 individuals composed of urban designers, planners, architects, and others. Each team will receive an information packet with background information about the area and municipality. Teams will meet with municipal partners shortly thereafter and begin the work!

Reminder: Please ensure to complete the Volunteer Interest Form in addition to registering for the event.


5:35 PM

Bennet Heart, Chair, BSA Foundation

5:40 PM

Urban Design Workshop Overview
Rami el Samahy and Martin Zogran, Urban Design Committee Co-Chairs

5:45 PM

Municipal Partner Goals, Opportunities, Hopes & Challenges
Jared Staley & Kristina Ricco (Boston), Suzannah Bigolin & Drew Kane (Cambridge), Jay Monty (Everett)

6:25 PM

Workshop Logistics
BSA Staff


Attendee Q&A


Networking and Refreshments

About the Workshop

There is a great shortage of housing throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. While there is no single solution that will address this critical issue, one thing is for certain: each municipality needs to work on building more housing. Municipalities and advocacy groups throughout the state are already working to produce more housing by changing zoning to allow for greater multi-family housing. Whether accounted for or not, denser housing will impact other dimensions of the built environment, from economic development and overall tax base to transportation and infrastructure. Density, in of itself, is not a one-size-fits-all solution and can run the risk of further entrenching systemic issues of equity and sustainability. The role of designers and planners in advocating for healthier neighborhoods through densification is an essential component of building better urban spaces.



March 22

A Quarter More Workshop Kick-off

March 31

Teams formed


Teams meet together, with municipal partners, and do preliminary design work

Early May

Mid-point Pin-up at BSA Space


Teams finalize designs

Early June

Final Pin-up and Closing Event at BSA Space

Urban Design Workshop History

The BSA and the BSA Foundation launched the Urban Design Workshops in 2014 to engage local architects in early stage thinking about major urban design initiatives. The workshops have provided a valuable resource to public agencies and major property owners by providing big-picture design thinking to support larger planning and public outreach processes. Modeled on programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts Mayors’ Institute on City Design, Urban Land Institute SWAT team workshops, and the AIA’s RUDAT program, the BSA Urban Design Workshops (UDW) pull together professionals to provide a holistic design-focused look at a particular urban area or issue concerning the built environment.