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BSA News

Apr 20, 2023

Full Speed Ahead: BSA Commits to All Five Innovation Prototypes

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Photo by Maia Erslev.

The BSA is pleased to announce that it will be assisting all five finalists in its Request for Innovation (RFI) process in advancing their projects. Each initiative, which is aimed at addressing equity and climate challenges in the built environment, will receive tailored assistance based on its needs, which might include funding, making connections with architects and others, etc. All five projects will benefit from BSA staff support, including facilitation, project management, impact evaluation, and the curation of ideas and approaches across the projects. The goal of these initiatives is to experiment and synthesize learnings on how architects and others in the AEC community can most effectively engage with communities to address their built environment needs.

The following five projects were selected from more than 30 submissions to an RFI that posed the question “How can we do architecture differently?”

  • Creating a circular economy (that reuses and regenerates materials) in affordable housing
  • Developing an architectural social equity framework
  • Prototyping healing and caring spaces with the Mass/Cass community
  • Building community-led alternatives to jails
  • Piloting community-centered improvements to the public approval and entitlement process in Boston

Read more about these exciting projects on our website.

In commenting about his team’s project on creating a circular economy, Michael Orbank, sustainability manager at STO Building Group, says: “Circularity is completely achievable, but it is a chicken and egg situation: If circularity has never been a priority in the built environment, the task of incorporating these concepts leaves practitioners wondering ‘what does this even look like in specs, drawings, construction, and material end of life?’ The BSA is providing us with access to its network, so we can daylight siloed efforts and connect the many professionals who are exploring the different aspects of circularity. Together, we will create a project, from start to finish, that demonstrates how circularity is achievable, and showcase the wide-ranging benefits for all.”

“These five projects are exciting because they push the envelope as to what architecture is. They are placing architecture into dialogue with community,” says Nigel Jacob, managing director of innovation at the BSA .“Beyond the contributions that each project will make to the specific challenge it is addressing, we have an intention to track learnings across all projects with a goal of informing how architects can work together most effectively with communities and vice versa. In the end, we can imagine a toolkit on community engagement for architects. It is really inspirational to be embarking on this work.”

The projects will take six to 18 months to complete, depending on scope. Throughout the duration of each initiative, the BSA will share developments and learnings through professional education workshops, in-person meetings, social media, and updates on the website. A key focus of the BSA’s work will be the development of a toolkit to help guide architects in most effectively working with communities on their built environment priorities.

The BSA encourages anyone who is interested to get involved in the projects. If you would like to volunteer, facilitate partnerships, fund, or otherwise engage with the RFI teams, please contact us at [email protected] and the BSA will be in touch.

CBT Architects has invited BSA staff and members of the project teams to discuss their initiatives and their potential implications for architecture at a gathering at CBT Architects’ offices. If your firm or organization would like to host a similar dialogue, please reach out to [email protected].