to make big change, we gather

the best ideas from design & beyond

Incubator at Sasaki public opening celebration

Watertown, Massachusetts

About the Foundation

We believe design has the power to address the most urgent challenges facing us, from social equity to environmental resilience. Design is an agent of change. And yet, access to design—for communities who need it the most—is often limited.

Making meaningful and lasting change requires designers to blur the boundaries that separate practice and research, academia and industry, the profession and the public. Making change requires designers to embrace vastly different points of view. Above all, making change requires collective impact.

At the intersection of research, practice, and community, the Sasaki Foundation is committed to advancing the value of design, inviting diverse partners to co-create change.

We are looking forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary throughout the year with signature programs and partnerships.

“Contribution is the
only value.”

— hideo sasaki

MIT Courtyard

Cambridge, Massachusetts

History

The Sasaki Foundation is named for Hideo Sasaki, an internationally renowned landscape architect who was admired for his teaching, critical abilities, and multidisciplinary approach to design. As both an educator and a practitioner, he became a leading figure in the modern design movement in mid-twentieth century America. He chaired the Harvard Graduate School of Design Department of Landscape Architecture from 1958 to 1968, served on the United States Commission of Fine Arts for presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and in 1956 founded the interdisciplinary design firm, Sasaki, which continues to flourish today. He was the first recipient of the American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA Medal in 1971, and in 1973 he received the Allied Professions Medal from the American Institute of Architects.

Noted among Hideo’s contributions was his multidisciplinary design approach, which grew out of his recognition of the complex nature of modern environmental design problems and the specialization and teamwork required to solve them. With unusual foresight, he elevated the study and practice of landscape architecture by tying it to allied planning and design disciplines and to the evolving social and environmental issues of his time.

Today the Sasaki Foundation carries forward Hideo Sasaki’s legacy by supporting research and experimentation, community learning and engagement, and professional practice and growth in the design professions through its programs and grants. The Sasaki Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation established in 2000 by Sasaki, a multidisciplinary design firm, and included a bequest from the Sasaki family and friends. The founding Board of Trustees members were Ken Bassett, Elizabeth Meek, James A. Sukeforth, and Alan Ward.

Hideo Sasaki

Sasaki office | Watertown, Massachusetts | 1960s

Timeline

2000-2006

On October 19, 2000, the Sasaki Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was established with a bequest from Hideo Sasaki’s  family and friends to continue his legacy of advancing rigorous and challenging research in design.

From 2001 to 2004, the Hideo Sasaki Foundation scholarship program provided scholarships to 24 students at 12 different universities across the country.

From 2002 to 2006, the Sasaki Foundation was a lead sponsor for the Landscape Futures Initiative, a series of symposia organized by the Landscape Architecture Foundation and hosted by universities across the country to analyze future drivers of global landscape change.

In spring 2004, the Sasaki Foundation sponsored the Integrative Environmental Design Studio at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, an experiment to bring together graduate students in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning.

In 2004, the Sasaki Foundation contributed to the Robert P. Madison Scholarship Fund, established as an annual scholarship encouraging African-American youth to aspire to a career in architecture.

Hideo Sasaki

Sasaki office | Watertown, Massachusetts

Hideo Sasaki Distinguished Visiting Critic postcard

Boston Architectural College | Boston, Massachusetts | spring 2007

2007-2013

From 2007 to 2013, the Hideo Sasaki Distinguished Visiting Critic program—a Boston Architectural College interdisciplinary educational initiative sponsored by the Sasaki Foundation—provided an opportunity for architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design students to work directly with accomplished designers who foster collaboration and integration.

From 2009 to 2013, the Sasaki Foundation supported the Boston Architectural College Collaborative Global Practice program, which included both teaching collaboration to students and cultivating expertise in negotiating the complexities and challenges that arise in international practice and cross-cultural collaboration.

2012-2016

In spring 2012, the Sasaki Foundation sponsored a Harvard Graduate School of Design studio, “The Garden in the Machine: A Demonstration Landscape for Deere & Company,” taught by Peter L. Osler of Illinois Institute of Technology.

The Sasaki Foundation, under the auspices of the Society for College and University Planning, funded the M. Perry Chapman Prize, which awarded $10,000 annually to honor Perry’s commitment to integrated planning and interdisciplinary collaboration and advance research to improve campus environments in support of their institutions’ missions.

M. Perry Chapman

Sasaki office | Watertown, Massachusetts

Black in Design: Designing Resistance, Building Coalitions

Harvard University | Cambridge, Massachusetts | 2017

2016-2017

From 2016 to 2017, the Sasaki Foundation sponsored three students through Youth Design, a unique summer internship and mentoring program that introduced urban public high school teens to the design world through paid internships with professional design mentors.

In 2017, the Sasaki Foundation sponsored the Black in Design Conference. Organized by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design African American Student Union (GSD AASU) the event recognizes the contributions of the African diaspora to the design fields and promotes discourse around the agency of the design profession to address and dismantle the institutional barriers faced by our communities.

2017-present

In 2017, as part of a renewed mission and vision, the Sasaki Foundation announced Alexandra Lee as the inaugural executive director to guide the Foundation in establishing a more expansive research agenda and seeking new partners to drive innovation.

In April 2018, Sasaki and the Sasaki Foundation celebrated the public opening of the Incubator at Sasaki, a flexible research studio and shared work space intended to serve as a catalyst for cross-industry collaboration, curated by the Sasaki Foundation.

The Sasaki Foundation supports the Girl UNinterrupted project, which creates a bridge between generations while sharing perspectives and best practices in order to empower emerging designers to have a proactive voice in their future.

The Sasaki Foundation Summer Exploratory Experience in Design (SEED) program, in partnership with American Student Assistance, is a six-week paid internship structured holistically around introducing young high school students to the world of design.

SEED students with American Student Assistance

Incubator at Sasaki | Watertown, Massachusetts | 2019

Design Grants team Charles River Floating Wetlands with Sasaki designers

Incubator at Sasaki | Watertown, Massachusetts | 2019

The Sasaki Foundation Design Grants are an annual competition to showcase projects that support and drive interdisciplinary innovation and empower our local communities.

The Sasaki Foundation Design Mentorship Program, in partnership with American Student Assistance, is an eight-month program that provides access to design for middle school students at Watertown Middle School.

How we operate

The Sasaki Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation, with funding from foundations, corporate entities, and individuals who support its mission. The Sasaki Foundation is a separate legal entity with a mission, goals, and programs that are wholly independent from Sasaki.

The Sasaki Foundation is located on Sasaki’s campus in Watertown, Massachusetts, within a 5,000 square foot flexible research and shared workspace called the Incubator at Sasaki. At the intersection of design and academic, professional, and community partners, the Incubator will be a site of cross-industry collaboration. The Sasaki Foundation serves as the steward and convener for this facility, with public programs and events, facilitated research initiatives, and recruitment of partners and tenants who share an interest in cross-industry collaboration.

Foundation Sponsors