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Engaging communities

Common Boston 2016

One weekend. Your city unlocked.

The BSA Foundation is proud to report that Common Boston, Boston’s first ever open house festival weekend, was an overwhelming success. The BSA Foundation thanks Common Boston partners, volunteers, and participants for the support and enthusiasm that opened the doors to thousands of festival participants.

Longtime residents and first time visitors alike (including one on a three-hour layover) took to the streets during the weekend of June 4 and 5 to explore 50 sites across Boston that were either uniquely open to the public for one weekend only (like the Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain) or that provided a special behind-the-scenes opportunity just for Common Boston visitors. The night prior to the open house portion of the weekend, 300 revelers kicked off the festival with the annual dParty at the Innovation and Design Building in the Seaport District, enjoying lawn games, libations, and a chance to plan their Common Boston adventure.

During Common Boston weekend, visitors chose their own adventures from the Common Boston guidebook (a “play by play for my weekend,” as a participant tweeted.) Some focused on exploring local landscapes through visits to the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, while others explored artists’ private spaces at Midway Studios and Fenway Studios. Regardless of the sites they chose, everyone got a peek into what one visitor called Boston’s “buried treasures” and gained a new appreciation for the “craft, civic pride, and hidden stories” of communities like Dorchester and Cambridge. Many realized that spots on their list were ones they walk by almost every day but didn’t know were there, from a tucked away distillery to brilliant Tiffany interiors.

Site partners reported a significant increase in attendance, with several hitting record numbers for the weekend. Many sites created special experiences for participants—like the Boston Architectural College, whose students designed a temporary inflatable entrance to their gallery space to welcome over 1,200 visitors.


Above: CB16 Instagram Photo Contest winning images by Evan Bradley and Jeremy Caron.

More than 100 photos were shared as part of the Common Boston 2016 Photo Contest, where festival participants posted images of their favorite sites and points of view throughout the city. Two lucky winners won architecture cruise tickets for the “Most Likes” and “Juror’s Favorite,” selected by guest judge, photographer Robert Benson. View the winning photos above, and see all the entries by searching #CB16 on Instagram.

Attendees of the festival are encouraged to share their thoughts on Boston’s first open-house citywide festival in this survey by the end of June 2016.

View images from Common Boston on Flickr and Facebook.

Header image: Ayers Mansion. Photo: Paige McWhorter.

To learn more about how the BSA Foundation is making an impact in communities, please come to BSA Space for a one hour “tour” of BSA Foundation programs. On the tour, board members and volunteers will tell stories about how Foundation programs, and the power of design, are positively changing the lives of real people. Meet the BSA Foundation meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. Events are free, but seats are limited. Check for upcoming dates and to reserve your seat.

Above: CB16 Instagram Photo Contest winning images by Evan Bradley and Jeremy Caron.