Reality and Imagination at Palmer Street Lot


A great deal of imagination is still needed for the Palmer Street lot as it remains in a legal tangle. Last fall, we gathered over 90 suggestions of what residents hope the Palmer Lot will become in the future. It is still uncertain since its owner is still nowhere to be found, but retains the right to his property since it is current on all taxes, thanks to the mortgage company. Now, it stands, still colorful, with “community” as its tagline, but a bit of a relic before its time. As noted above: imagination is sorely needed! (and perhaps some legal knowledge wouldn’t hurt!)


Growing Community at Woolson Street Lot

w02 Collective social consciousness of waste, sustainable resources, economics, and pollution have influenced stakeholders to take a broader view of many design professions, especially architecture, which uses the greatest amount of resources of human enterprises. Indeed,  LEED (the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) helps establish standards of responsible resource making and gathering at the onset of design, while the temporal scope of architecture has also expanded beyond the finished building; design professionals need to take responsibility for the future maintenance and, even, potential disposal of the structure. Maintenance of a private residence requires the ultimate initiative of the owner; for public projects, the community is tasked with ongoing stewardship. Uncared for parks demonstrate that municipal trash pick-up isn’t enough. So, in addition to the materials, and the foresight, we need to also design for engagement; community building is a social and spatial problem, and creative design can aid the rigorous community organization of so many neighborhood leaders, activists, and planners.

w03SPSP was happy to be part of such an effort of Saturday, May 3rd in Mattapan in collaboration with the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC),  Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, and neighbors. We were also delighted to re-use four bright orange frames initially created for another project.


In tandem with the “Boston Shines” city-wide clean-up effort, we erected creative signage on the lot to communicate the message that the planned community garden needs more gardeners. Design for social engagement is a compelling design challenge; the project is often a temporary installation, with no budget, infused with contextual issues and histories, inherently political, that seeks to reach a diverse number of people in circumstances that often hinder civic participation. On the Woolson Street lot, while volunteers cleaned up trash and weeded around daffodils, we posted signs that signal the beginning of the transformation of a lot that has a history of tragedy, and a desired future of community, safety, commemoration, and beautiful gardens!


The finished signs, including an orange board where all participants signed their names.

If you would like to support the community gardens proposed at the Woolson Street Lot – support the project at Make Architecture Happen! 

How to HulaArt!

HulaArt Artist Row View 02

HulaArt canopy over Artists’ Row? Indeed!

Be a HulaArtist at the Salem Art Festival 2014, June 6-8. Info here and photos courtesy of Social Palates of the Phoenix School students workshopping these hoops of art to help us understand the best way to transform recycled and found objects into HulaArt!

HulaArt How To

ReImagine A Lot! Week 5

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The front of the Community Suggestion Wall is almost complete and asks residents to imagine what this lot could be. The final, essential touch, will be the chalk that will be placed on site as soon as this fall rain passes. The head of the wall will serve as a Community Bulletin board with the bold artwork of the neighborhood helpers.I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_2

The back of the wall currently serves for a canvas of unlimited possibilities – join us next week as the mural really begins to take shape.I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_3

The eight foot long stencils were not easy to work with, but the kids managed quite well. I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_4 I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_5 I Imagine info poster_Week 05_Page_6