Creative Class Controvery

What happens when a university, which emphasizes active citizenship and creativity, ironically destroys creative space behind closed doors? It’s not the same as when a university takes over a transportation hub, or when a university takes over a neighborhood — be it in Boston or New York. No, this is a catch-22 expansion into the domain of the creative class.

Two years ago, an urban planning student organization at my school, which I had co-founded earlier that year, found out that a nearby Tufts-owned warehouse, full of artisans, was going to be renovated. The artisans were to be evicted within the next few months. So, we proceeded to explore the space, meet with artisans, and try to understand the complex, contradictory, and confusing situation. We conducted IRB/CITI reviewed research, and we began to comprehend the social, economic, political, and physical dimensions of 574 Boston Avenue.

Tufts Daily article (April 2013):

University plans to remake a Tufts-owned building at 574 Boston Ave. into teaching and office space will result in the May 31 eviction of its current residents, a community of artisans who have run their businesses there for over two decades.

Tenants on Nov. 30 received a notice from Walnut Hill Properties, Tufts’ non-academic property manager, which gave them six months to move out, according to a Feb. 4 Boston Occupier article.

“Tufts has been considering the best use for 574 Boston Avenue for several years, as the university’s need for space has been increasing,” Director of Public Relations Kim Thurler told the Daily in an email. “We will be working closely with the city and the local community as we move forward and expect to meet with the neighborhood as our plans develop further and we are closer to applying for a building permit.”

For the artisans, eviction means the demise of a large community of woodworkers, instrument makers, metalworkers and other artists who have made a home out of the four-story, 96,000 square-foot building.

John Brown, Paula Garbarino and Chris Keller (A ’76), woodworkers who design and build custom cabinets and furniture from the building, said they are frustrated at the loss of this communal workspace.

“There’s a big brain trust in that building, and it’s all going away,” Brown told the Daily. “We all can’t move to the same location because that building, that 574 Boston Ave., doesn’t exist anywhere in the area, and boy, have we looked for it.”

The building fostered a vibrant community of artisans who have shared ideas there for decades, Garbarino said.

“It is lovely to be able to go to work in your own greater neighborhood, to go to work in a place with light and air and fabulous neighbors who can give you advice and help you out,” Garbarino told the Daily. “I really value the greater community of people in that building.”

The artisans occupied the building on a month-to-month basis since all leases expired several years ago, Thurler said. Tufts has informed tenants about their intentions to renovate the building for many years.

Although the university did make the artists aware of its future plans, Keller said Walnut Hill was ambiguous about the situation until the artisans received the letter in November.

“There had been rumors floating around for at least a decade,” Keller told the Daily. “We all knew that eventually Tufts would want to do something else with the building – or we assumed they would.”

The university has been working to facilitate this move for those affected by the eviction, Thurler said.

“We have provided tenants with contact information for local commercial brokers who are well-qualified to provide relocation advice and assistance,” she said.

Despite university efforts, Garbarino said that many artisans have not found adequate spaces to relocate. For example, she has looked at 16 buildings but has not found a comparable place to 574 Boston Ave.

“When you go look at other commercial space and it’s all metal buildings with no windows and a cement slab to work on, it’s not the same – it’s not at all conducive to creative spirit,” Keller said.

Student group Urban Policy, Planning and Prosperity (UP3) is trying to help the community of artisans, freshman and member of UP3 Dirayati Djaya said.

“It’s been absolutely really shady,” Djaya said. “I think that was my biggest concern about the whole situation. The Tufts administration was socially distancing themselves from the tenants that have been there for 20 years.”

UP3 members have been meeting with the artisans and exploring the space every Friday for the past month, according to Djaya. She launched a blog to preserve the memory of the tenants, whom she said were never properly acknowledged.

“As an urban planning group, we are really fascinated by the architecture,” Djaya said. “I’ve been taking pictures, documenting the space, just interviewing [the artisans] and keeping track of all the data.”

Artisans’ opportunities to make themselves known to the Tufts community had been limited by a rule against holding open studios in the building, Garbarino said.

“There’s that kind of way to connect with your community so that they know you’re there and they learn to respect you and appreciate you and value you,” she said. “[We] are a kind of dying breed of people that are makers who are not assembling pre-formed parts in that sort of mindless way that is left to manufacturers worldwide now.”

These artisans lived and worked in an organic social, economic, political, and physical environment. The open-door space incentivized creativity, akin to Building 20 at MIT. Among the many talented artisans: Rick BerryPaula GarbarinoJudy McKieKim Schmahmann, John and Jane Kostick, Mitch Ryerson, Dan Klein, and…

 

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Courtesy of Paula Garbarino

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Courtesy of Jane Kostick

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Courtesy of Jane Kostick

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Courtesy of Jane Kostick

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Courtesy of Jane Kostick

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These are undoubtedly talented individuals, but they were also a collective spirit, and they’re now scattered around the region. Even if some could find new places to work with adequate lighting, those spaces were typically further and further away from home, and of course, from longtime friends and colleagues. This was a neighborhood within a neighborhood, evicted and shattered into pieces. Woodworkers, bicycle mechanics, sign makers, all gone…

Nevertheless, in theory, I support Tufts’ renovation. The university will be using the space wisely, and will be creating jobs in the process. They owned the building, and they decided to renovate it. For decades, artisans used the relatively cheap space, and now, it will be transformed for the 21st century. However, the 21st century deserves a better transformation.

There is absolutely no recognition of the artisans on the official redevelopment website, and I’m concerned that few (if any) will know the “true” story of 574 once this building has been renovated. I think it is important for people to know about the people who called 574 home.

This is the purpose of this article.

As such, I wrote to Tufts. Here’s the relevant part of my message:

…Don’t you think that it’s odd that the Tufts community seems to know very little about the lovely people who used to work at 574? Why is Tufts not mentioning anything at all about the people who lived in the space, if the school prides itself on active citizenship?

…I just wanted you to know that it was a magical place with extremely talented, warm, and welcoming people. Everyone was building something cool and the informal spaces were so fascinating to explore. It was a mysterious secret that was within blocks from our campus, and I think it’s a tremendous loss that they had to go entirely, as they could have taught students quite a lot of skills. I also think it’s tremendously odd that 574’s history is being completely ignored.

Here is their response, excluding the non-relevant aspects of the message:

…The building was built just over 100 years ago in 1910-12.  Its’ location adjacent to transportation provided by the Boston & Maine Railroad, near the Harvard Street Bridge and along Boston Avenue, was formative.  Over the decades the property changed hands frequently with a variety of industrial uses including paper box manufacturing, wool scouring, and metallic fabrication.  When Tufts purchased the property in 1988 the building housed a firm named EM Decorating and other tenants.  Tufts purchase of the building at that time by Walnut Hill, our real estate corporation, was somewhat risky.  Walnut Hill Properties was formed 40 years ago to buy property for Tufts’ strategic purposes and to hold the properties in a self-sustaining manner until they would be needed. So for 25 years, until 2013, Tufts provided space at low cost to the artists, craftspeople and tradespeople that you recall. That community could not have flourished without Tufts’ support. When Tufts needed the building for its mission they were treated with respect and given assistance in relocation.

Your message highlights how an understanding of the past should inform our future, especially if that past includes a community that has emerged through co-location and the synergy of shared creative work.  Much of our thinking about 574 Boston Ave renovation, both in selecting the interdisciplinary academic groups that will occupy the building and the design of the architecture, is grounded in a desire to create a unique creative community that will contribute every day to our mission. These are:

  • Human Centered Engineering (including robotics labs and a usability lab that tests devices for human use)
  • Human Development, Health and Performance (a collaborative of Occupational Therapy and Child Development)
  • Physics and Astronomy

We have designed the building to have many places in which people can come together, including informal group meeting spaces, collaborative technology, a coffee kiosk, individual and group study spaces, and a reading room in addition to the seminar rooms, teaching labs, classrooms, research labs and offices. We expect 30+ faculty, up to 200 graduate students, post docs and staff, and hundreds of undergraduates to be in the building every day.

The architecture of the building is designed to recall the building’s history and to link that history to contemporary academic purposes. We have the preserved the original dimensions of the building; exposed, sandblasted and preserved the interior wood structure and preserved the dimensions and material organization of the envelope windows, concrete structure and panels. We are using metal and graphics that recall it’s industrial history. We are now exploring ways to incorporate innovations of the 21st century as artwork in the building, drawn from Tufts faculty.

In all, we believe that our current plan to reuse 574 Boston Ave honors its history and many generations of people who worked there.  It is an urban development project of a very special kind, thoughtfully crafted and adapted to its next purpose.

While writing a helpful and informative response, they nevertheless did not respond to my actual concern: recognizing the artisans who worked there. After all, if Tufts was to recognize them, then they’d have some power. People would take notice, and more than a few UP3 students would start to question the process being unfolded next to a future MBTA Green Line station.
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Here was my response:

…I am also excited about the redevelopment of 574 Boston Avenue, and I’m glad that Tufts has decided to preserve, protect, and enhance the building’s industrial architecture. Moreover, I agree that it’s important to recall the building’s history in order to inform Tufts’ future, and I’m thrilled to hear that the (in)formal design of 574 will help to catalyze collaborative interdisciplinary synergies. Hopefully, the unique and creative design will also help to produce excellent research for the 21st century and beyond.

Indeed, I am glad that we both agree about the importance of recognizing — and honoring — 574’s history. However, seeing as we both concur, I’m having trouble understanding why the artisans who worked there for 25 years are not being recognized in the physical space. I believe that fostering a unique and creative community — which we both clearly want for 574 — would be aided not only by recognizing 574’s architectural history, but also by recognizing 574’s human history.

You mentioned that Tufts is now exploring ways to integrate artwork into the building. Perhaps the artisans who worked there would also be interested in providing artwork, or perhaps photographs of the old space could be displayed? I think that this would be the ultimate way to honor 574’s history and the many generations of people who worked there. In fact, I will be writing an article on an urban planning website about the history of 574 Boston Avenue in order to assist in our goal of honoring the generations who’ve worked in the building.

What do you think about my place-making suggestions? I’d be honored to hear back from you.

What do you think? Couldn’t Tufts be doing more to recognize the amazing work that they’ve done? Maybe an exhibit in the space? Maybe some lectures for art students?
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Tufts is trying to “incorporate innovations of the century as artwork in the building, drawn from Tufts faculty”. Couldn’t they be incorporating the artwork that had been in the space, too?
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This is a historical building that Tufts has decided not to tear down, but it also should not be gutted of place-making context…
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20140904_154244 20140904_154203 20140904_154157  20140904_153931
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Above: My photos (September 2014) of 574 Boston Avenue
Below: “New Landscaped Park” @ 574 (SOURCE: Official redevelopment website)
574
According to the university, “exterior work is now largely complete at the renovated 574 Boston Avenue site, which will open next May as the new Collaborative Learning and Innovation Complex”, and that “work to extend the MBTA’s Green Line from Lechmere to Medford, with a stop at the intersection of Boston and College Avenues, is now underway at several locations”. Based upon my recent photographs above, this statement appears to be true. These changes will be exciting, to say the least, but it will nevertheless be important to remember the past…
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Even though 574 was scattered, a few lucky tenants have succeeded in finding relatively nearby spaces. In fact, Somerville, MA has been doing some work to preserve spaces for artists; Joy Street Studios and Brickbottom Artists are two examples of remaining locations. Many others have successfully moved to other warehouses along the Amtrak Downeaster railroad tracks, which will soon partly support the Green Line Extension. Most do not hold anything against Tufts (and neither do I); after all, it was owned by the University, and the University provided relatively cheap studio space for decades. But nevertheless, perhaps Tufts should, at the very least, preserve the memory of this space…
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In the end, why should Tufts care about preserving the memory of 574 Boston Avenue? Besides the fact that Tufts has actually stated that they’re interested in preserving the memory of the warehouse, I think it’s also important for Tufts to practice what it preaches: active citizenship vis-a-vis good design and good planning. All around the world, countless projects are being completed, but not comprehended or contextualized, even though they will become part of larger urban ecosystems. I have higher expectations for Tufts, and so should my fellow students.
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What do you think? Idealistic? Pragmatic? A good compromise? Help us to recognize the artisans by contacting Tufts at the 574 redevelopment website, and/or by contacting Tufts via T10 Strategic Planning, which is the long-term comprehensive plan for the university. T10 includes the redevelopment of 574 Boston Avenue, alongside countless other exciting initiatives. Hopefully, T10 will also recognize these artisans, and, more generally, acknowledge the history of our spaces and places.
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Updates, if available, will be provided in the comments below…
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Rayn Riel is a student at Tufts University studying international urban development, his self-crafted major. Interested in transportation, he is the founder of Tufts’ only undergraduate urban development student organization and was an intern at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP). Rayn is interested in how smart transportation planning (and in particular, in how powers, identities, ideologies, and transportation hubs) can transform cities and communities socially, economically, politically, environmentally, and of course, physically. He’s also interested in how it all depends on a city’s comparative context, and on whether or not we’re “transporting transportation“, or translating (in)formal best practices.
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This piece is based upon IRB/CITI reviewed UP3 research. Anonymous artisans that did not wish to be recognized due to personal reasons were not mentioned in this post.
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43 Comments on “Creative Class Controvery”

  1. Eugene M. Riel III September 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Same thing happened in NYC recently – http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2014/07/artists-working-inside-5-pointz.php
    Artists working communally for years in a space that they knew they would eventually be evicted from. That building was demolished. Yes it would be nice if every building displayed records of previous inhabitants. I wish my 100 year old house in Brooklyn had some photos of previous inhabitants I could display. Some buildings in NYC have a plaque on the front – there’s one across the street from my office on the Wave Building about a previous tenant, Nicola Tesla. There was one around the corner with a plaque where Edison once worked. That plaque disappeared, probably a pizza sign there now. I don’t remember which building it was anymore. I like the Brooklyn Army Terminal which has vintage photos of how the area looked back in WWII. But so many buildings in NYC had so many previous tenants, and it’s all fascinating to me, but mostly all lost history. Here’s a case with 574 where the artists should not be lost to history. Unfortunate that they all have to scatter but that is the lot of the poor artist in our society. Unless you make it to the big time, like anyone else, there’s no free ride.

    Like

  2. John September 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Simple question? what became of the people that worked at 574 Boston ave.?

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 19, 2014 at 9:09 am #

      Yes, exactly! Please feel free to let us know what became of you here, if you want… And definitely share this page with more artisans, so we can work on getting your work(s) recognized in the new space. Cheers!

      Like

  3. Michael D. Marks September 18, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Good article, Rayn. I think it’s great that this redevelopment gets some attention. My guess is that most current undergrads at Tufts are ignorant of this project. This building sits on a part of campus that is currently underutilized and honestly pretty unattractive. With the Green Line coming out so close to this area of campus, I think it’s critical make improvements to this area. If pulled off well, this can serve as another gateway to the campus. And I love the idea of a park beside it, which will also be an amenity for the South Medford community, which is often ignored by the University, unlike Somerville.

    I think it’s definitely important to recognize the contributions of the artisans who have been making use of this space for so long.That said, I think this is a positive development for the most part, and should be recognized as such. I think some type of mural or exhibit would be great.

    But at the same time, it’s important to recognize that Tufts owns this property, and has the right as property owners to do as it wishes with it. It was nice enough to provide low-rent studio space to artisans for ~25 years. That said, the way Tufts officials answered your queries kind of missed the point, and so I would hope that Tufts might learn some lessons from this project in terms of dealing with community outreach.

    Furthermore, as an alum, I do hope that Tufts starts to involve students a little more in its land use planning. Given that Tufts has architecture and planning departments (even if they’re small), it would have been cool to engage students in the planning and design of 574. As far as I know, no such effort like that ever happened.

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 19, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Thank you, MM. You raise some interesting points, and I agree, which is why I was clear in the post that I supported the renovation project, except for the fact that Tufts isn’t recognizing the artisans.

      Engaging students would definitely be a powerful PR move by the University and surely an excellent complement to our academics. If they were to solicit my advise about the GLX, then I’d suggest that we pressure the MBTA to lease potential real estate above its proposed Tufts Green Line station at Tufts. We could, perhaps, have a cafe in the station complex, which would provide the MBTA with a stable source of revenue… Or, they can rent it out to someone else, since we already have a nearby cafe…

      // I’m going on a tangent now… //

      (There are no valid reasons behind why the MBTA has not developed their real estate at Davis Square… They have two station entrances, one can be closed at a time, and mixed-use buildings can surely be developed on top of them with ground-floor retail… These developers could also be forced to pay for some station renovation costs… The building could have housing, commercial space, rooftop farms, LEED features, and of course, “place-making” features… So many opportunities!)

      (Renovate station entrance to be akin to building to the right… or denser, if the area can be up-zoned with relaxed parking requirements, which should happen, since it’s next to the Red Line…)

      FYI: Interesting history — http://www.bostonstreetcars.com/red-line.html

      Like

    • john September 29, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      “Tufts university” did not technically own the property till 2013. And it was not low rent it was fair market value.

      Like

  4. Daniel Grayson September 19, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    It sounds like you and Tufts engaged in a super-thoughtful dialogue – and I love your idea of contracting the artisans who occupied that space for so long to create the artwork that will live in the building post-renovation. I hope someone takes the idea to heart in the planning

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Thank you! President Monaco replied:

      Also via e-mail:

      “I appreciate your continued interest in recognizing the rich history of 574 Boston Avenue. As we get closer to the completion of construction, the project team is now looking in more detail at such issues as signage and art, and in particular at possible opportunities to display photos the represent the building’s history. We are also looking to see if there is an opportunity to place furniture made by one of the former tenants in the building. Thanks for sharing your suggestions”

      Like

      • Rayn Riel September 26, 2014 at 9:57 am #

        Update 9/26: Conversation with President Monaco
        (An extensive contact list for artisans has been shared and it will be used!)

        Like

      • john September 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

        smoke! How about we WILL reflect the former history by
        (possible) more than one of the former tenants.

        Like

  5. Taty September 20, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    Awesome article. Great ideas for a balanced approach where everyone could benefit from the new space and from the human knowledge and history they could share with students (which is, actually, more valuable than whatever Tufts could offer them).

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Thank you! Yes, and I’m also working with the artisans in order to organize work(s) that could be contributed to the space.

      Like

  6. Rayn Riel September 22, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    UPDATE 9/22/14

    Paula Garbarino has given me permission to share our recent conversation:

    Paula Garbarino: http://www.pgarbarino.com
    Judy McKie: http://www.gallerynaga.com/?q=node/17
    Kim Schmahmann: http://www.kimschmahmann.com
    John Everdell: http://goo.gl/b0D3jX

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 22, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      Many of the artisans evicted from 574 were nationally-acclaimed, and every single one of them had a lot of talent, warmth, and creativity. I don’t understand why Tufts did not want our (art) students to know these people existed, let alone, learn from them… They were here for twenty years… We could have had generations of apprenticeships, open studios, lectures… Also, many of these artisans are eager to have their (insured) work at the remodeled 574. Examples of a FEW artisans below:

      Paula Garbarino: http://www.pgarbarino.com
      Judy McKie: http://www.gallerynaga.com/?q=node/17
      Kim Schmahmann: http://www.kimschmahmann.com
      John Everdell: http://goo.gl/b0D3jX (Photos from 574)

      Like

      • john September 29, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

        Rayn

        The former tenants at 574 Boston ave paid rent to Walnut hill properties, Tufts University non academic real estate arm. So technically the building was not owned by Tufts University, that is one of the reasons the Tufts community new not that it existed .( Walnut hill properties owned the property), And there fore not on anyone’s radar except the long term planning committee’s.

        Tufts university bought the building from Walnut hill properties in 2013. A simple real-estate transaction between two separate entities (on paper).

        ? Could? Walnut hill properties could have sold 574 to any one (I don’t know) other than Tufts

        Ah Boy How do I continue!!!!!! Tufts is a multinational corporation who happens to be in the (higher) education business.

        Like

    • john September 29, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

      Paula You dear and sweet wonderful woman!!!! Tufts did not tear down the building because they would not have gotten the set backs required for new construction along the RR tracks and Boston Ave. Thus retaining the maximum
      square footage possible. Everything is a known calculus of value to suit a need.

      Like

  7. cstanton1958 September 23, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Fantastic project, Rayn, and it’s great that you’ve carried this discussion to the Tufts Administration and PR office. This process is sadly very widespread and predictable at this point (Sharon Zukin started writing about it back in the 1970s – see her 1982 book “Loft Living”) and you’re right to point out the irony that cultural and educational institutions with “civic” missions like Tufts are all too often part of the process of displacement and gentrification. (Darren Smith has referred to this particular type of gentrification as “studentification.”) One of my spring classes did a project focusing on a building in Union Square that is, as Michael Marks put it above, “currently underutilized and honestly pretty unattractive,” connected with some good questions that some people are asking there about the importance of protecting some of these “low-end” spaces and uses as crucial nodes within the “creative economy.” I’m leery of letting ourselves off the hook merely by memorializing or displaying the work of displaced artisans like the ones at 574 Boston Ave. – there is a much more serious conversation to be had about knuckling under to the seemingly inevitable march of progress and our own role within it. (Here’s a blog post I wrote about the work that my class did in the spring: http://publichistorycommons.org/a-side-or-b-side-part-i/)

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 23, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      Thank you so much! Update: I now have an extensive contact list with quite a few 574 artisans, and I hope to reach out to many of them ASAP, so that we can start compiling a list of artisans that would be interested in selling their work to Tufts…

      Yes, this process is definitely widespread and predictable, and thank you for all of these sources. I will definitely explore further, and indeed, there is a much more serious conversation to be had: How can areas be revitalized whilst retaining “low-end” “creative spaces” and remaining “alive”? (In fact, I touched upon this in a previous article: https://planyourcity.net/2014/07/20/informality)…

      Idea: Perhaps, affordable housing above the MBTA Davis Square Red Line entrances? These entrances could be redesigned to be mixed-use T.O.D. spaces…

      PS: Studentification is a great term, especially considering this recent article: http://www.scatvsomerville.org/snn/possible-crackdown-on-overcrowded-student-apartments/

      Like

  8. Rayn Riel September 23, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Send your feedback to Tufts’ strategic planning coordinators (T10). Message below:

    We value your feedback. The committee’s work, however, is only a first step. In order to produce a final document that draws upon the experience and wisdom of our diverse community, we invite each of you to read the document and submit your feedback here:

    http://as.tufts.edu/about/strategicPlan.htm

    The online comment form will remain open through October 10th. In addition to submitting your comments electronically, we hope you will join us at one of the sessions below to discuss the strategic plan and the planning process:

    Wednesday, October 1, 12:00-1:20 – Department Chairs’ Meeting – Coolidge Room
    Tuesday, October 7, 9:30-11 AM – Faculty Discussion – Dowling 745 A
    Tuesday, October 7, 5-6:30 PM – Graduate Student Discussion – Cabot 206
    Wednesday, October 8, 5-6:30 PM – Undergraduate Student Discussion – Balch Arena
    Thursday October 9, 3-4:30 PM – Faculty Discussion – Dowling 745 A&B
    Friday, October 10, 9:30-11 AM – Staff Discussion – Crane Room, Paige Hall

    Like

    • john October 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

      Rayn, Are the above meetings open to the public? And if so is there an agenda in place to discuss 574’s past to be represented in the new space?

      Like

      • Rayn Riel October 1, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

        Hi John,

        Thanks for your earlier comments about Walnut Hill and setback requirements. Valuable information!

        I’ll check if these meetings are open to the public, and I’ll get back to you. I’ll definitely be attending, so perhaps we could go together. Will let you know.

        Like

      • Rayn Riel October 2, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

        Hey John: So, my mistake. The meetings are not about the T10 strategic plan, they’re about other planning efforts… So they are not about 574 and they also are not open to the public, but it doesn’t matter because I shared the wrong events. Sorry for the confusion.

        Like

  9. Rayn Riel September 26, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Update 9/26: Conversation with President Monaco
    (An extensive contact list for artisans has been shared and it will be used!)

    Like

  10. Sheila Berry September 30, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    Hello Rayn,

    In a random search, I happened to come across planyourcity.net with all your thoughtful and interesting writing about 574 Boston Ave.

    Rick Berry is internationally known expressionistic figurative artist who rented 1800sq ft on the second floor of that building for the past 8 years. He was initial placed there in January 2005 for a few weeks to complete a solo art exhibition, donated to complement the international symposium for Tufts Institute of Global Leadership. That February he assumed the lease and we (RickBerryStudio) were happy to be able to rent there until it’s closing. As noted, doors were often open, the atmosphere was collaborative and friendly. Tufts was clear about the rental arrangement and Bruce Ketchum was always pleasant and would stop by to comment on work. It was an overall positive and productive experience. After a long search, we are now renting in a mixed (art & small businesses) use building in Arlington, which provides a work space but nothing more. Doors are closed. We are grateful for our time at 574 and certainly miss it.

    Rick created oil paintings at 574 that have appeared in galleries, books and live theater. His work has won awards and sold to private collectors in Singapore, Australia, Germany and other locations. Noted authors, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and George R.R.Martin are among those who have purchased his art nationally.

    Among Rick’s art, President Monaco would be interested in seeing the pro bono artwork Rick created for Tufts over a period of years (4 symposia, e.g. his work hung in The Hall of Flags and Aidekman lobby) It may be of interest to note that Rick gave Sherman Teichman a long term loan of some paintings from these symposia for the TIGL office. While purchasing art for 574 interior is being discussed, we ask that Rick’s work be considered as well.

    I’ve attached a brief bio and we have many photos of art and events to share from 574. Some art from 574 appears in this interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPUrzCLs5bE.

    Thank you so much for your interest in the artists of 574. It was a very special place!

    Sincerely,

    Sheila Berry 617-800-4836

    ps Rick has collaborated with artists from Fringe in Somerville who are mentioned in Cathy Stanton’s comment. Based on an art event Rick designed in Italy (1998) a fundraiser for youth art education was created (2010) with a popup gallery and collaborative painting evening at Starlight Lounge in Somerville.

    Please connect with us on
    tumblr: blog.rickberrystudio.com
    facebook.com/rickberrystudio
    twitter.com/rickberrystudio
    subscribe to our newsletter: http://www.rickberrystudio.com

    RICK BERRY BIO
    Rick Berry’s work takes the matrix of art, technology and cognitive dynamics to explore human possibility in figurative artworks. He created large digitally-rendered panels for Tuft’s international symposia on global issues, acted as Keanu Reeves’ cyber-stunt double for his team’s award-winning CGI climax in Columbia TriStar’s Johnny Mnemonic, and made the first digital cover for a work of fiction (Neuromancer by William Gibson, 1984). Active in both fine art and popular culture, his work appears on hundreds of novels & comics, games and film concept work. His large scale oil paintings for American Repertory Theater’s CABARET, starring Amanda Palmer, won Berry a Silver Award, just one of his many career distinctions. His art is collected internationally; among USA collectors are noted authors, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and George R.R.Martin

    Throughout his work maintains a sense of otherworldliness and almost being there. “His figures simultaneously express movement and emotion”…Linda Laban, Boston Metro 2007. He is a popular guest lecturer who speaks about “art as a tool of evidence for creativity and collaboration”. His next exhibition is at Boston’s popular new concept restaurant-gallery, Liquid Art House. Two books of his art, with 5 star reviews on Amazon, are Double Memory: Art & Collaborations and Sparrow 6: Rick Berry. Work can be seen on line at http://www.rickberrystudio.com. Rick maintains his studio in Arlington, MA and can be reached at info@rickberrystudio.com

    Like

  11. Daniel Abramson October 2, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Rayn,

    Thanks very much for bringing this material to my attention. You wrote a great first article about the project, and even better, generated a conversation about the issue, which it would seem went some way towards recognizing the building’s recent inhabitants. That recognition, as you realize, is ultimately of great practical and symbolic importance. It’s typical of institutions to make decisions that affect people but not consult those people about them. Universities love to talk about (and sell) civic engagement and service, but typically are poor practitioners of the craft. After all they’re not democracies, and are not responsible to anybody but their trustees, and whatever public opinion might be generated. Thankfully, that’s what you did. Nicely done.

    Best,

    Daniel Abramson
    Associate Professsor, Art History & Director, Architectural Studies
    Tufts University

    Like

  12. Rayn Riel July 26, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    Related updates:

    574 Donations:
    http://giving.tufts.edu/why_give/profiles/2015profiles/davenport.html

    Summer ’15 Construction:
    http://now.tufts.edu/articles/summer-construction-update-0

    GLX Air Rights Building:
    http://now.tufts.edu/articles/new-academic-building-planned-t-station

    Tufts University Development Corporation (South Station Air Rights):
    http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tufts:UA069.001.DO.UA147

    Like

    • Rayn Riel September 15, 2015 at 9:25 am #

      574 Updates: Working with Tufts in order to buy relatively “affordable” work from 574’s former artisans! There are many lonely walls that need artwork. Also, since many artisans made furniture, they are also exploring buying flame-retardant, relatively sturdy furniture. And they are also going to install a plaque in order to raise awareness about the prior uses of the building.

      Like

  13. Rayn Riel September 21, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    Good news from Lorin Polidora, Manager of Administrative Services at the Collaborative Learning & Innovation Complex (574 Boston Avenue)! She wrote this message below to quite a few of the artisans, which I’d previously introduced her to via e-mail…

    ///////////////////////////////////////

    “While searching for some history about the building at 574 Boston Ave, I came across Rayn’s posts regarding the construction and the artisans subsequently affected by the project, and reached out. Thank you Rayn, for your work bringing this issue to a greater audience, and connecting me with these artists.

    Now that I have the opportunity to outfit the building with art, I feel that it is important to recognize the history and the people that have been a part of 574. I see this as an opportunity to reimagine the space in the context of the building’s history, and I would love to work with as many artists as possible (budget permitting) to bring your work back into the building. I am mainly looking for pieces that can be hung on the walls, but I’m also open to other possibilities. This is a great chance to expose the larger Tufts community to the history of the space, and some truly beautiful craftsmanship and art.

    In addition, the Dean of Arts & Sciences and the Dean of Engineering will be co-hosting a 574 Open House on Friday, October 9th at 4:00pm. We would love to have you join us for this event. If you’d like to meet with me, and/or get a tour of the building at another time, please let me know.

    Best,
    Lorin”

    ///////////////////////////////////////

    Like

  14. Rayn Riel October 1, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    This message is sent on behalf Dean Glaser and Dean Qu.

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Please join us for an OPEN HOUSE at 4:00pm on Friday, October 9th at CLIC, located at 574 Boston Avenue.

    Faculty, students, and staff are encourage to explore the space at the Collaborative Learning & Innovation Complex (CLIC), and learn more about this 95,000 square-foot structure that will foster and support an inventive culture. This former factory fulfills Tufts’ vision to break down traditional barriers between disciplines with potential for collaboration. Faculty, students (both undergraduate and graduate), and staff will find a building that balances a relaxed, warm atmosphere that encourages the organic, spontaneous nature of student activity with the serious and quieter labor of scholarly pursuits.

    We hope to see you for an opportunity to walk through the space, and enjoy some light refreshments.

    Thank you,
    James Glaser, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
    Jianmin Qu, Dean, School of Engineering

    Like

    • Rayn Riel October 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

      The Collaborative Learning & Innovation Complex (CLIC) fulfills Tufts’ vision to physically and socially break down traditional barriers between disciplines, with potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and creativity.

      However, unbeknownst to most, this creative and collaborative culture had already been present at 574 Boston Avenue for decades. A community of artisans thrived there until their sudden eviction, in order for renovation to commence. Tufts broke down their community in order to expand our community. Many of these artisans found new spaces, but some decided to move on entirely.

      UP3 has been advocating for 574’s former artisans, many of whom will be in attendance. UP3 has succeeded in convincing Tufts to buy some of their work for placemaking efforts at the building, and the University will also be building a plaque in order to raise awareness about the unique history of the space. For more information, please feel free to read these articles.

      Like

  15. Rayn Riel November 10, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    Creating campus change:
    http://tuftsdaily.com/opinion/2015/11/09/masks-of-halloween

    Like

  16. Rayn Riel May 4, 2016 at 9:46 pm #


    Like

  17. Fred June 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

    http://newlab.com — creative space at brooklyn navy yard

    Like

  18. Fred June 27, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    What so often happens with gentrification is people become tribal. Insider, outsider. Neighborhoods are always in flux. Chinatown used to be Jewish, Italian, German, etc.

    Locals (referred to henceforth as “activists”) blame gentrifiers rather than the real culprits: government, which makes it difficult for developers to build, build, build.

    Many in activist’s community that have been there for a long time surely protest new developments, limiting the supply of housing, raising costs.

    Many long-time locals also surely protest bike lanes, even though it is true, there were brown bikers before bike lanes are installed.

    And I’m sure many local homeowners are happy about gentrification, eager to sell to outsiders, who can afford to pay more.

    But instead of looking inward, activist blames and demonizes the “outsider”, offering no pragmatic solutions.

    Activist laments racial profiling although the controversial stop-and-frisk policy has been cited as one of the reasons why NYC does not have the level of violence prevalent in Chicago.

    The NYPD is one of the most diverse police forces on the planet.

    Then PC police keep us from having real conversations.

    Like

  19. Yokoinu September 8, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

    New Lab is an interdisciplinary space designed to support entrepreneurs working in emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and connected devices.

    Located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the former epicenter of American shipbuilding is state-of-the-art once again.

    http://newlab.com/

    Like

    • Iona September 25, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

      So much fun to be had in NY – atlantic antic, smorgasburg, summer stage, brooklyn flea, celebrate brooklyn… and fun at the navy yard, founded in 1801 and now an industrial park, with tenants, partly subsidized by EDC and NYC, managed by city non-profit with 24-hour security, a perimiter, zoning certainty.

      http://brooklynnavyyard.org/the-navy-yard/
      http://newlab.com/

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Progressive Public-Private Partnership Profits | PlaNYourCity - August 22, 2015

    […] The opening of the College Avenue MBTA Station on the Tufts University Medford/Somerville Campus will create a new joint development gateway on campus, and it has the potential to measurably increase sustainable transportation among members of the campus community. It will also turn the intersection into a crossroads for campus, due to the expansion of campus southward on Boston Avenue. […]

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  2. Extensions & Expansions | PlaNYourCity - August 26, 2015

    […] authors left out the redevelopment of 574 Boston Avenue from their piece. A few years ago, I met with the talented and inspirational artisans who had been […]

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  3. A Riel Plan for NYC | PlaNYourCity - December 21, 2015

    […] and opportunities? Where will a school build its next campus, fostering innovation and fueling a creative economy? Where are the young and educated moving? New York must balance these global […]

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  4. Connect | PlaNYourCity - August 31, 2016

    […] and new facilities for learning and socializing. This area of campus is already growing, with 574 Boston Avenue and the soon-to-be completed SEC, as well as the new Central Energy Plant, and the renovated […]

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