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Perception and Place Boston, MA Design Workshop - Fall 2008 Instructor: Laurencia Strauss Duration: 16 weeks

PROJECT STATEMENT: Explore the experience of everyday landscape. Investigate and understand the social and ecological systems present on the chosen everyday site. Using sculptural and architectural exercises in order to move from the studio into real-life interventions and develop a proposed design for the site which affect assumptions and perception of the chosen site. SITE ANALYSIS: The site is located on Newbury Street close to the corner of Massachusetts Avenue in the heart of the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts consisting of a ten foot by twenty-six foot concrete platform which sits six inches above the adjacent sidewalk. It lies in close proximity to downtown, the Fenway area, various college institutions, shops, bars, restaurants, the Charles River, and major commuter arteries including I-90 and the greenline transit station. It is commonly used by panhandlers, art proprietors, street musicians, and people watchers. It is an area of constant activity.

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SITE INTERVENTION #2: “A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS” The origin of this statement comes from a willingness to pay for someone’s thoughts. This intervention involved a large piece of cardboard with this statement written on it, and a pile of pennies and markers to accompany it. By observing from afar and provoking an interaction, I learned about both the site and the people.

SITE INTERVENTION #1: STREET INTERVIEWS

CONCLUSIONS: Many people observed the sign but did not take part including people who took pictures of it. The slower paced people were more likely to interact with the sign. People were drawn to to groups that formed around the site. Most of the written statements were of a positive nature including a special love for someone, political statements, music lyrics, and proverbs.

A simple video questionnaire of willing recipients helped reveal information about the diversity of users on the site. They were asked their name, age, home town, their purpose for being on the site, and what they would like to see happen on the site. CONCLUSIONS: The people on the site for leisurely purposes were much more likely to take part in the intervention. There was a high demand for a seating area on the site. Many of the people interviewed enjoyed the site for the street music and its unpretentious and artistic presence.

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SITE SYSTEM ANALYSIS: A system analysis of the user groups which occupied the site was based on the quantitative factors of DURATION, DENSITY, and FLUCTUATION. Using these three factors, the system analysis diagrams revealed the dynamic nature of the site in a visual representation. The diagrams helped reveal the physical qualities and patterns of the site’s presence, helping inform the final design proposal and what it sought to achieve.

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FINAL DESIGN PROPOSAL: The installation of protruding forms from the wall of the site helps reflect the informational concepts gathered from the site interventions and system analysis; mainly FLUCTUATION. The forms continue onto the concrete platform creating seating in response to public request and allowing users to promoting users to stay there for a longer DURATION of time. The spectacle of the forms and night time video projections will provoke a higher DENSITY of users directly on the site throughout the day. The projection of video images on the fluctuating wall at night creates a visually dynamic effect which helps convey the effect of constant swelling and receding. It also provides an opportunity to present imagery which is relevant to the diverse culture which surrounds the site.

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Perception and Place: Newbury Street Beach