Skip to content

Community News

May 16, 2024

A Look at Our Boston: Voices from Kindergarten 2024

53721498352 4a3fe26f85 o

Project by East Boston Early Education Center students.

Photo by Max Schochet.

Classroom projects assembled by kindergarteners guided by volunteer architects for the Kindergarten Construction unit were displayed on the floor inside the Pavilion, made of construction paper, clay, and colorful details. You might balk at the idea of putting these carefully crafted scenes on the floor, but doing so allowed children and adults alike to view the projects from above while inviting visitors to crouch down and get a closer look at the details.

The exhibition consisted of a joy-filled week celebrating student voices and creativity and sparking larger conversations about the ever-changing city around us, and culminated in a final celebration at the Civic Pavilion next to Boston’s City Hall.

Visitors abound!

This year’s Kindergarten Construction program boasted 25 classrooms from 16 Boston Public Schools. Projects came from across the city, representing student ideas from Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, East Boston, Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, the North End, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and West Roxbury.

Kindergarteners visited throughout the exhibition week from the Beethoven, Edison, Eliot, and Philbrick schools. They not only saw their classroom model on display, but were able to learn about other classrooms’ projects as well. They navigated the space full of curosity, asking questions about decisions other classrooms made on their designs and sharing their thoughts via sticky notes peppered across the room. Architects who had volunteered their time at the Beethoven and Edison schools also joined us to see the full outcome of the program. Thank you to JFF Design Architects’s Joe Fournier, Merge Architects’s Diana Tomova, and Miller Dyer Spears Architects’s Kate Wonkka for supporting the classrooms in their visit downtown.

20240508 19

Photo by Taylor Johnson, BSA.

Reaching new audiences at the Civic Pavilion

This year, the City of Boston supported the BSAxBPS program and hosted the exhibit. Civic Pavilion, nestled next to City Hall (under the infamous “Cop Slide” and playground) in close proximity to countless tourist attractions, attracted visitors from all over for the Our Boston projects. Countless hundreds of visitors passing by City Hall Plaza and visiting the nearby playground were able to read about the pop up exhibition and see the students’ work through the windows throughout the week.

Many remarked on the students’ inventiveness and ability to not only have these ideas (at just age 5/6!) but to come together around one larger idea and make it in real life.

Educators shared how the project, their architects’ visits, and the work leading up to the exhibition reinvigorated their classroom and lifted their spirits after several challenging years of teaching since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many shared their renewed energy after working through the Our Boston design challenge and developing those final projects.

These projects acted as catalysts for conversations between students, public visitors, educators, city officials, and local residents. Throughout the week, many of the sentiments shared by both local educators and parents visiting from outside the Boston metro region noted the importance of this project. All agreed on the need and desire to continue expanding this program, sharing design and ways of looking at the city into other ages.

53722681114 606ffb70b0 o

Photo by Max Schochet.


On Saturday morning, over 80 BPS students and families came to the Civic Pavilion for a special celebration of the exhibition, with others from the public visiting in the afternoon.

Taylor Johnson, Design Education and Engagement Manager (BSA) kicked off the event, welcoming students, educators, and families for joining us and supporting this initiative. She shared with the students and educators in the room the sentiments from visitors throughout the week and the partnership between BSA and BPS Early Childhood. Marina Boni and Carmen Lico welcomed the group, sharing gratitude for the energy put toward this project for English and Spanish speaking visitors. Kristin McSwain, Senior Advisor for Early Childhood (City of Boston) represented the Mayor’s Office in place of Mayor Wu, who was traveling for an international conference. The Mayor’s letter kicks off the design challenge each year and Mayor Wu’s personalized letter was shared with countless classrooms during this year’s Our Boston project. She remarked about how much the Mayor looks forward to this each year, to see and celebrate the students’ work, and that they will be sharing the students’ ideas with many at the City of Boston.

Also sharing their project was Kelsey MacDonald’s classroom at the East Boston Early Education Center. They focused on making Boston a safer place, designing the Natural Disaster Robot, fit with water bottle wheels, an arm for sucking up water in flooded areas, and another for spraying water on burning homes. The students cared about many different ways of keeping people safe and were influenced by some of what they saw in their own East Boston neighborhoods.

20240509 31

Photo by Taylor Johnson, BSA.

History and Involvement

The Our Boston project began in BPS classrooms over a decade ago. Through the BSA’s involvement (2018-present), there has been an effort to integrate architects into the classroom in various ways and host the exhibition of student work in spaces that celebrate architecture/design in the city. BPS has previously hosted at their headquarters and other city spaces before collaborating with the BSA at BSA Space (2019), Atlantic Wharf (2023), and the Civic Pavilion (2024).

The BSA collaborates with BPS each year (2018-present) to disseminate the lesson on architecture and coordinate architect classroom visits in participating BPS Kindergarten classrooms. The BSA is also the main conduit between the volunteer architects and the classrooms, preparing architects for the classroom visits and matching with teachers.

Program Updates
This year, the BSA piloted a version of architect classroom visits specifically for architects to engage in the students’ design process during the Our Boston project. The resulting work from the weeks of design were on display at the Civic Pavilion from May 6-11, 2024.

Key developers and supporters of Our Boston: Voices from Kindergarten; Left to right: Carmen Lico (BPS), Marina Boni (BPS), TeeAra Dias (BPS), Taylor Johnson (BSA), Maria Marroquin (CPS), Jason Sachs (Previously BPS, Now Gates Foundation), and Chris Bucco (BPS) (image credit: Max Schochet).


Thank you to BSA’s Taylor Johnson and BPS’s Marina Boni, Carmen Lico, and Michelle Pless-Joseph for their energy in developing this program.

Thank you also to BPS’s Chris Bucco, TeeAra Dias, and Melissa Tonachel and City of Boston’s Farah Elhadidy, Lisamarie Menino, and Kristin McSwain for their support.