2009-2010 ‘Exploring Design’ Lecture Series

Liberty Leading the People into Government Center

The Boston Society of Architects Lecture Series at the Boston Public Library

This series is co-sponsored by the Boston Public Library and is held in the Library’s Rabb Lecture Hall in Copley Square. Each presentation begins at 6:00 pm at the Library and is free and open to all. We recommend that you arrive 15 minutes before the beginning of each presentation. Reservations are not required.

This annual series of presentations on architecture and the built environment illuminates the ways in which all of us shape the design of our neighborhoods and our cities, and the profound impact design has on our communities and the way in which we live.

complete schedule


Civic Intimacy

Joshua Simoneau

June 16, 2010


Upon winning the prestigious Rotch Travelling Scholarship in 2008, Joshua spent approximately one year in Western Europe, examining many of the world’s greatest cities. Building upon Louis Kahn’s notion that “the center is the cathedral of the city,” Joshua’s research focuses on how the city center should not only be accessible, allowing expression and an equal sense of belonging to all participants, but also be socially relevant, transcendental, and concerned with everyday life in matters of both the individual and collective group. Joshua will discuss his investigation of European civic spaces and how lessons learned from these places might be applied to improve Boston’s civic realm.

2008 Rotch Travel Itinerary: EUROPE

Depart November 03, 2008 for ATHENS

Europe will be the main focus for travel in order to complete the research portion of the Rotch Travelling Scholarship. The urban language and civic spaces most closely resemble that of the United States and therefore will serve as a point of departure for comparison. Logistically, this part of the world is beneficial to the research because it will allow the opportunity to experience a variety of city types within a manageable distance from one another.

The duration of this trip will be 300 days (approximately 10 months), partly because this number makes it easy to construct a budget, but more importantly that is about as far as the exchange rate will take you these days. The primary mode of transportation will be by rail, but planes will be utilized over longer distances.

Ten primary destinations have been strategically chosen in order to take advantage of the diversity of spaces this continent has to offer. These destinations are: Athens, Rome, Venice, Madrid, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Vienna, and Paris. The distance between these ten cities is significant because it will provide the opportunity to study the regional effects on civic centers. There is no particular order per se, other than starting in Athens and Rome for obvious reasons given the research subject; the remaining order is mainly governed by train lines. However, that is not to say that these particular destinations have been blindly chosen. Each represents different urban strategies and thus unique approaches to the civic realm. For instance, Paris and Venice can compare the effects of transportation infrastructures; while Moscow and Berlin can demonstrate the effects of different types of Government.

In addition to the primary destinations, there will be secondary destinations which will serve as stopping points along the way. For instance, the trip from Rome to Venice will include Siena and Florence and Venice to Madrid will include Madrid, Marseilles, and Barcelona, etc.

This illustration depicts the route of travel. The circles around primary destinations depict a 200 mile radius and accessible as a day trip (200 miles is approximately Boston to New York City).

2008 Rotch Winning Solution

LIVE WIRED

Most cultural institutions serve only part of a population. A majority knows their exterior shape, only a minority knows what happens inside.

This project addresses the connection between the Community Arts Center and the Public by considering not only the building itself, but its relationship to the masterplan as a whole.

A dense mosaic of programmatic elements including performance theaters, internet cafe, gymnasium, and classrooms will attract a diverse population to Live Wired, a new community arts center at Dudley Square. Ideally situated between residential neighborhoods and public transportation, Live Wired has a tremendous opportunity to bring a sense of identity and coherence to not only the Dudley Square area, but the larger metropolitan area of Roxbury as a whole.

Although the creative program offered by the center provides a certain energy and creativity that is currently lacking, it is essential that it provide a public gathering space in order to strengthen community pride and create a successful urban place.  In order to accomplish this, the visitor is treated as if a character in a performance. The building reveals its contents to the city without being didactic; at the same time the city is exposed to the public inside in a way that has never happened before. A comprehensive public route connects all public functions around a central space by means of stairs, terraces and passages: the building becomes an architectural adventure. Not only is this realized through visual connections between different programs, but most importantly by means of the “Urban Stage” at the heart of the project.  This iconic public space enables the possibility of accommodating virtually any type of program on a twenty-four hour basis. The strategic location of this space encourages impromptu performances as well as scheduled events.

A number of smaller workshops, labs and studios, will also encourage exploration in the arts, through a variety of media. However, the ultimate goal is to create a social center enriched by multi-generational interaction which reinforces existing retail business and promotes economic growth, making the adjacent neighborhoods more desirable.

Joshua Simoneau wins $35,000 for travel and study

perspective - aerial

Joshua Simoneau of Koetter Kim & Associates in Boston has been named the 2008 Rotch Travelling Scholar. As winner of the BSA’s prestigious two-stage annual design competition for designers age 35 and younger, Simoneau receives a stipend of $35,000 to spend eight months traveling throughout the world.

First runner-up was Eric Weyant, who works at ADD Inc. He is invited to compete in next year’s final competition without reentering the preliminary stage and is the 2008 alternate if Simoneau declines the scholarship. This year’s finalists also included Gabriel Bergeron of Miller Boehm Architects, Ramsey Bakhoum of Payette, Robert Alexander of Patrick Quigley and Associates in Torrence, California, and Robert Genova AIA of Ann BehaArchitects.

Thirty-five competitors participated in the preliminary competition, in which they were challenged to create an urban design proposal for a Boston public market. In the second phase of the design competition, the six finalists were charged with developing a community arts center for Dudley Square. The design goals included creating a sense of identity and coherence for Dudley Square as an urban place; enticing and encouraging all members of the Roxbury community to drop by casually and frequently; and creating a new contemporary landmark.

In his winning scheme, Simoneau presented a masterplan and design that incorporated housing on Harrison Avenue, retail use on Warren Street, two theaters, an urban stage, and an enclosed basketball court with an adjacent Internet café and amphitheater seating. “Joshua’s scheme was interesting in that it appears to have been seamlessly worked out at both a larger masterplanning and smaller project design scale simultaneously,” commented jury member Skip Burck ASLA of Richard Burck Landscape Architects.

Other jury members included final competition author Robert Miklos FAIA; preliminary competition author Tim Love AIA; Rotch Travelling Scholarship secretary Peter Wiederspahn AIA; Kari Alberqueof Boston Center for Youth and Family; Mabel O. Wilson, a faculty member at Columbia University; Josiah Stevenson AIA of Leers Weinzapfel Associates; and StevenFoote FAIA as vice president of the Rotch Trustees.

Established in 1883 for the advancement of education in architecture, the Rotch Travelling Scholarship is the oldest of its kind in the United States. For more information, visit www.rotchscholarship.org.