CannonDesign and the ClimaTeens Share Resilient Design Ideas for Boston

| May 8, 2018

by Brett Farbstein

What began as a casual introduction between our firm and the New England Aquarium last summer has now developed into an impressive display of youthful ideas for urban resilient design, all highlighted during Boston’s recent Design Week 2018.

Specifically, the New England Aquarium introduced us to the ClimaTeens, a group of nearly 50 15- to 18-year olds passionate about our planet, oceans, and forging a healthy, sustainable future for our community and the world at large. Teens accepted into the aquarium’s educational program arrive with various levels of knowledge about climate change, but they are united by their collective desire to understand it fully and their commitment to learn ways to engage public audiences, particularly their peers.

The New England Aquarium staff was interested in exposing the teens to professions addressing climate change, other than marine biology, and our firm’s commitment and experience with sustainability and resiliency in the built environment made us an ideal partner. As our two organizations talked, we decided to offer the ClimaTeens a

ClimaTeens at New England Aquarium

designer’s experience and after some discussion with the city of Boston, we settled on Joseph Moakley Park as the site for their charrette challenge. If you are unaware, Moakley Park is a 59-acre waterfront park in South Boston that has multi-use recreation and baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, track, and playgrounds, including a splash area for tots. According to the Climate Ready Boston Report, the park will be subject to sea-level rise, storm surges, increased precipitation and extended heat waves which threaten the park’s current use.

With roughly only an hour for the design workshop with the ClimaTeens, it took some creative effort by Mike Cavanaugh, Craig Mutter, Jamie Graham, Ananta Sodhi, Marisa Nemcik, Bassem Almuti, Paul Kondrat, and myself to develop some architectural representation tools to give the teens a crash course in architecture presentation. Each of us also worked with a group of teens during the design workshop to help them illustrate and explain their innovative visions of the future development of Moakley Park. After the workshop, Jamie, Ananta, and Marisa turned the rough ideas into beautiful presentation boards. These boards were displayed at the aquarium during the Boston Design Week and viewed by special guests and the public. With almost no rehearsal, the teens were also able to articulately present their ideas.

The young people of this region understand the city of Boston is on the frontlines of climate change. As our future designers, builders, and adult users, we should understand their views and hear their ideas for our city’s development. I couldn’t be more proud of the ClimaTeens and our firm for the work done for this effort, and I look forward to continuing to build on the relationship with the New England Aquarium.


Brett Farbstein

Brett Farbstein, LEED AP, CEM, CBCP, EBCP, is a senior commissioning engineer and project manager at Cannon Design.

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