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BSA News

Feb 23, 2023

Climate and Equity: Five Transformative Projects Selected as RFI Finalists

Designing an architectural social equity framework, jumpstarting circularity in affordable housing construction, and centering the stories of some of Boston’s most vulnerable residents are among the creative proposals that have been selected by the BSA’s Request for Innovations (RFI) Selection Committee for further consideration. Proposals were submitted in response to an RFI that the BSA disseminated asking “How might we do architecture differently?” in order to address equity and climate change issues in the built environment.

“The proposals were thoughtful and impressive. They covered a wide range of innovative ways to transform architectural practice, prioritizing equitable processes and climate mitigation strategies,” says Anda French AIA, Partner at French 2D and member of the Selection Committee. “It was a challenge to settle on five finalists. We thank and commend everyone who submitted a proposal, and hope that all will continue to pursue the development of their projects. Solving the challenges in front of us will require all of us to advance and collaborate on these high-level ideas.”

The Selection Committee, composed of BSA staff and representatives of BSA boards, carefully reviewed thirty-one proposals before settling on the following projects as finalists.

  • Developing a social equity framework addressing social, civic, racial, and environmental justice that accompanies architectural and urban design projects.
  • Prototyping and piloting improvements to public engagement and community benefits in the development approvals process in Boston with a focus on health, equity and climate.
  • Designing for low-embodied carbon in affordable housing through a circular economy by field testing methods, techniques and business models to create new tools and frameworks for construction projects in the Boston area.
  • Expanding an effort to support the civic agency of unhoused, drug-using and care-giving communities around the Mass/Cass area in Boston, using storytelling and trauma-informed arts workshops to facilitate decision making about transformations in the public realm.
  • Collaborating with communities impacted by incarceration and criminalization and supporting people-led processes to create a world beyond jails and prisons.

“We hope that our project—focused on developing a social equity framework—accelerates the inclusion of different kinds of design/research methodologies into our architectural practices,” says Jason Lee, Founder and Principal of FMRĀ and RFI finalist. “Participatory action research, community based design, human centered design, and service design are all predicated on understanding and prioritizing the needs and experiences of users/community members in all design solutions. These methodologies could help architects and urban designers really understand the needs and concerns of the communities in which they would like to build.”

Each project was evaluated on its ability to improve outcomes for Boston-area residents, encourage new modes of practice or collaboration, and result in innovative outcomes in the built environment that advance climate adaptation/resilience and equity, among other criteria. Read the full list of selection criteria.

Join us for an Open House on March 1, 5:30-8 pm, at which the finalists will present and discuss their ideas with members of the Greater Boston community. All are welcome.

After the Open House, the BSA will work with each team to help move its proposal into action over the course of the year.