Page 1



office: 617. 426 . 5401

21 Drydock Avenue, 7th fl Boston, MA

map-lab, inc

office: 617. 426 . 5401

21 Drydock Avenue, 7th fl Boston, MA


City/Build is a curriculum enrichment program for Boston high school students introducing them to the fields of design, development, and construction. This program offers students the opportunity to learn about the construction process from the design to completion stages, by engaging with professionals working on real projects. Ultimately, City/Build encourages students to become more actively aware of their neighborhoods as physical spaces, helps them apply their classroom knowledge to real-world problems, and inspires career motivation in the fields of building and design.



1 2 3 4

Overview: Students are introduced to development, design,

and construction through skill-building lessons and hands-on activities. Students gain understanding of these professions, as well as the context under which urban development takes place by exploring a neighborhood site.

Neighborhood Context: Students are introduced to positive initiatives in their school’s neighborhood and in the neighborhoods where they reside. Understanding how neighborhoods develop allows students to gain perspective on the impact buildings have and the variety of professions involved in a collaborative building project.

Construction Partnership: Volunteer professionals from the Construction Partnership give students an overview of their project in class and host the students at the construction site. This real world application connects students with local professionals, allowing them to see first hand the scope of various jobs.

Design Project: Students work on a final design project. Projects reflect students’ lessons on design and development. The Final projects may relate to the local neighborhood, school or the Partnerʼs site, allowing students to express their personal interests. Projects may include developing original site or floor plans or creating models.




Figure 2: 143 students from grades 8-12 participated.

Figure 3: 87% of participants were of minority background.

Figure 4: City/Build was offered in 6 classes at 6 Boston High schools. Figure 1: City/Build Served over 1400 students during its initial run.

Figure 5: The program recieved support from 100 volunteers from the design, development and construction fields.

2010 marks the rebirth of the City/Build program. A pilot session was held at the John D. O’Bryant School in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. Twenty 9th and 10th grade students from Mr. Munsey’s Honors Geometry class participated in an 8 week session in partnership with Turner Construction’s Genzyme Phase II Project.


Figure 6: 147 students from grades 9-12 participated.


Figure 9: 20 Students in grades 9 & 10 participated.

45% Asian

45% Asian

35%35% Hispanic Hispanic 15% African American 15% African 5% Caucasian

American 5% Caucasian

Figure 10: 95% of Participants were of minority background.

45% Asian

35% Hispanic

15% African American 5% Caucasian

Figure 7: City/Build was offered in 6 classes at 5 Boston high schools.

Figure 11: City/Build was offered in 1 class at 1 Boston high school.

Figure 8: The program recieved support from 117 volunteers from the design, development and construction fields.

Figure 12: The program recieved support from 17 volunteers from the design, development and construction fields.

Students learn about the relationship between the client and the designer during a building activty. Students create 3D models of spaces they designed based on information provided by their peers.

Michael Chavez of YouthBuild Boston presents the students with information about positive development in the Roxbury neighborhood as well as sustainable design strategies.

Representatives from Genzyme Corporation, Turner Construction and ARC (Architectural Resources Cambridge) discuss the building process with the students, starting with initial client collaboration through the construction phases. They shared architectural drawings and models with the students as part of their presentation.

“In my opinion, the City/Build class was pretty awesome because I actually learned a lot about building, engineering and their processes. I was glad to have the representatives from Genzyme, Turner Construction and ARC because they were so nice and interesting. I have gained a sense about how fun it is to build and how important it is. Before I had no idea about buildings and did not care how people built them. Now I realize that is a really long and exciting process. I admire the City/Build partners because they taught me many cool things and they allow me to feel involved, specifically connecting me to the building process. I appreciate what they taught me and I am happy to see them and thank them a lot for everything.”

-Ngoc Nguyen, 10th grade student

“The professionals that came to my class to give their presentation on how buildings are made were wonderful. We got to learn about all aspects of creating a new building; now I appreciate and better understand buildings. This inspired me to recognize the value of the whole city of Boston, because it is filled with many beautiful buildings. The professionals discussed their roles and the building process. I think they did a great job, I just wished the class were longer so I could have learned more. I think it is great that the City/Build program is teaching children in school about construction projects because they are making a difference in society by influencing and inspiring youth.”

-Jocelyn Ramirez, 9th grade student

“I sometimes wonder why I have to take geometry class, when my future does not involve anything with shapes or formulas. Nor did I think geometry had anything to do with my future career. As I observed the Genzyme Building during the presentation by the people who are working on it, I saw that geometry was written all over it. Each window is parallel to one another and it is the same exact shape. The building facing the water displays a pattern, and to be able to do that you would need to use formulas and geometry. I realized that engineers have to know their geometry very well in order to be successful when they are designing a building and also that geometry should be a required course because you never know if you want to become an engineer.”

-Wanny Pimentel, 10th grade student

Rick Provost from Turner Construction and Katie Archard from ARC (Architectural Resources Cambridge) take the students on a tour of the existing Genzyme building and the Genzyme Phase II construction site.

Students work in small groups to develop their final design project. Each team is paired with a mentor from the Boston Architectural College.

Teams present oral and visual presentations of their final design projects to the class, representatives from the construction partnership, mentors and members of the City/Build Family.

“Today was super fun; I had a great time touring the Genzyme Building. I learned how important geometry is in the design and construction fields, and got to see it first hand. I saw many shapes we have studied in geometry class while we were on the tour. When I saw a semi cylinder, the equations for surface area and volume popped into my head. It is exciting to think that professional people are utilizing the same skills I am learning in my geometry class. It made me understand how important my class is for my future. I will no longer question my classes because I have seen that the information I am learning is applicable to my future and will come in handy eventually. “ -Emma Zheng, 10th grade student

“My favorite part of the tour was the construction site. It was fascinating to see the inner workings of a building and how the building process works. I’ve always wondered what the inside of buildings look like and how they were created. I liked that when we were walking through the construction site we got to see workers in action. The BIM presentation was cool too! It was an actual 3D model with all the details the real building will have. It’s amazing how they can take a computer-generated design and turn it into a building. It’s more efficient than a hand built model because there is only so much a hand can do and of course there is a matter of limited space. I really liked this trip and would like to return to see the finished product.” -Vincent Thompson, 10th grade student

“The eight-week City/Build course introduced my students to the world of architecture, design, development, and construction. My students thoroughly enjoyed the City/Build curriculum. The City/Build staff was both knowledgeable and approachable, and gained the respect and appreciation of the students. They were inspired to think about various career opportunities. I was also continuously impressed by the experts who came to guest speak to the students in my classroom. Furthermore the field trip to a construction site at the Genzyme building in Cambridge, MA was extremely worthwhile. More than one of my students has since expressed interest in learning more about design, construction, or architecture.”

-James Munsey, Math Department, John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science

PRESS YOUR S.T.U.F.F.: Constructing a future: Program lets kids learn from engineering, design and construction professionals;

CARA NISSMAN. Boston Herald. Boston, Mass.: Mar 18, 2002

Hunched over and sketching vigorously on a design draft, Aaron Hernandez explains his vision for a new entryway. “I want to add a skylight so there can be an indoor garden,” he said. “I want the sun to come through so they can have flowers year- round.” Hernandez, 17, a junior at Dorchester High Engineering and Technology Academy, is one of 150 students from six Boston public high schools participating in the City/Build enrichment program. Begun in 1989 by Historic Neighborhoods, the nonprofit program lets students work with more than 80 volunteer professionals during the school year to learn building design, development and construction. “Kids are excited by the real-life application,” said Danielle Corke, program manager. “It’s a very hands-on curriculum. They’re doing their own design work and being exposed to professionals in the business. It’s inspiring to students. Working with these people and having adult conversations gives them a sense of pride.” Dorchester High has been “adopted” by Shawmut Design and Construction, the Boston-based company renovating the Mary Baker Eddy Library at the headquarters of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston. At Dorchester High’s College and Career Center, kids recently met with Alan Scharfe, executive vice president of John A. Penney Co. Inc. Scharfe explained the electrical specifications for the library and helped students with their power plans. Throughout the year, the teens will work on their ideas for the library’s facade, entryway and landscape. “I want to add bushes and flowers outside so it has a better appearance,” said Mike Nguyen, 17, a junior. “I want to put a fountain so kids can throw pennies.” Admittedly, the teens’ designs are a tad ambitious. They don’t have a budget, as they would for a real construction job. “For this project, they have all the money in the world,” said Chelsea Blanchard of Shawmut. “They can do whatever they want.” “In the real world, you have to design to the budget,” said Scharfe. “You’d have to figure out the costs for filling out the garden.” Despite that reality check, most of the kids seemed eager to build up their experience. “I want to learn what mechanical engineering’s all about,” said Nguyen. “My dad does that. I get amazed by what he does.” Many of the students are interning this month at Shawmut, where they can shadow a professional around the construction site or office. “(The students are) not going to be pouring cement all day,” said Joan Dolan, the school-to-career counselor at the school. “(They) have an opportunity to learn a lot in the office.” Juniors Christelle Adrien and Othneil Uter, both 17, said they can’t wait to follow around designers. Electrical engineering appeals to Cornelius Blackwell, 18, a junior. Some of the teens said they were nervous about interning, but seemed positive they could overcome their shyness and concentrate on learning. Still, there is a downside. “The meetings are long and kind of boring,” said Alexis Reyes, 17, a junior who interned with another construction firm last year. “I just listened to everyone. I want to learn more about designing buildings. I want to be an architect.” For those with designs on a future in architecture, the access to potential future employers is invaluable, said Corke. “These old folks have been in their positions for a while,” said Hernandez. “We can see what they do and learn what people need to know to do this work so we have the experience when we want to do it later on.”

History, math are taught with architecture Classes in Roxbury relate solid objects, abstract concepts; [City Edition] Zachary R. Dowdy, Globe Staff. Boston Globe Boston, Mass.: May 25, 1994

Charles Marvel, 17, sat quietly off to the side of his group yesterday, painstakingly poking and pushing at a set of interlocking geometric pieces of plastic, an artist at work. Half an hour later, a small replica of a mythic McDonald’s had formed in his hands. His work’s white Lego bricks, contrasting with its red trim, were enough to give the small piece integrity and to earn Marvel the envy of his classmates at the John D. O’Bryant School in Roxbury. But it was the trademark golden arches, somewhat crude for being made of pieces with cornered edges, that made Marvel, a regular McDonald’s patron and resident of Roxbury, most proud. “That’s my McDonald’s,” he exclaimed, holding the tidy work as classmates looked on. “I did this one like the one around where I live.” Marvel’s was one of several similar projects built by teen-agers taking a City/Build course in architecture, taught in conjunction with history and mathematics classes at the high school this spring. Yesterday, students placed their small projects on blueprints for a proposed site called Roxbury Plaza due to be finished next spring along Tremont and Whittier streets in Roxbury. The program, sponsored by the Historic Neighborhoods Foundation, which also coordinates the popular annual Make Way for Ducklings Parade, gives students a crash course in the basics of building by fusing architecture with history and math in the O’Bryant School and West Roxbury High School. “You learn a lot about what’s going on in the city,” said Jenelle Alexander, 17, of Jamaica Plain. “You learn what’s going to improve and what’s not.” Indeed, the students are among the first in the city to see plans underway in Boston. Guided by the contractors, the students tour construction sites of multimilliondollar projects, including the new courthouse in Roxbury and the track facility being constructed along Columbus Avenue in the Southwest Corridor. Architects such as Stephen Smith of HNTB Corp. in Boston impart the finer points of the field by explaining the intricacies of constructing a new international terminal at Logan Airport. Dan Rutledge of Graham Gund Architects, Inc. spoke of problems overcome in constructing an elementary school in Brookline. Renata Robinson, who visits two classes at the school each week to teach the course, said the program merges nicely with disciplines like math and history, giving students solid objects to relate to abstract concepts. “In this class we focused on the history of Roxbury and community development,” Robinson said as four groups of students fiddled with thousands of Lego bricks in James Hurley’s morning history class. Earlier this spring, she asked Gary Spurr’s math class: “How does algebra affect your life?” For the answer, she took the class to the Cambridge Side Galleria mall, where they learned how calculations on paper with a pencil, guided by a triangle, could result in a grand piece of commercial architecture.


office: 617. 426 . 5401

21 Drydock Avenue, 7th fl Boston, MA

UNDA urban neighborhood design alliance

The Urban Neighborhood Design Alliance (UNDA) is the pending not-for-profit arm of map-lab, inc, a management, architecture and planning laboratory located in Boston. UNDA supports educational programs, such as City/Build, originally run by Historic Neighborhoods, Inc. UNDA embodies the spirit and expands upon the vision of Historic Neighborhoods with new programs in sustainability, research and urban design.

map-lab, inc

office: 617. 426 . 5401

21 Drydock Avenue, 7th fl Boston, MA

City/Build 2010 O'Bryant School  

This report recaps the 2010 City/Build class at the O'Bryant High School in Boston, MA. City/Build is a curriculum enrichment program for Bo...