to make big change, we gather
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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.
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 family of Hideo Sasaki. The founding Board of Trustees members were Ken Bassett, Elizabeth Meek, James A. Sukeforth, and Alan Ward.
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.
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.
- spring 2007: Jinhee Park and John Hong of Single Speed Design
- spring 2008: Alex Anmahian of Anmahian Winton Architects
- spring 2009: Brian Healy
- spring 2010: Stoss Landscape Urbanism
- spring 2011: Stefan Behnisch and Thomas Auer
- spring 2012: MASS Design Group
- spring 2013: Karl Daubmann
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.
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.
- 2012: “Research on Learning Space Design: Present State, Future Directions”
- 2013: ”Developing Research Methods for Analyzing Learning Spaces That Can Inform Institutional Missions of Learning and Engagement”
- 2014: ”Peer engagement as a common resource: Managing interaction patterns in institutions”
- 2015: “Aligning the Strategic Campus Plan With the Institutional Mission in 2030: University Campuses as Complex Adaptive Assemblages”
- 2016: “Connecting the Dots: Campus Form, Student Perceptions, and Academic Performance”
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.
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.
Launched in 2018, 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. In 2020, we translated the program into a free, self-directed online curriculum while adapting the summer internship into a hybrid format during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched in 2018, 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.
While 2020, the Sasaki Foundation’s 20th year, brought many unexpected challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic and the summer of racial reckoning highlighted the importance of our work in harnessing the power of design thinking to promote equity and empower local communities.
In October 2020, the Sasaki Foundation celebrated our 20th anniversary with a conversation between Dr. Karilyn Crockett, Chief of Equity for the City of Boston, and Mary Anne Ocampo, Sasaki Foundation board chair and principal at Sasaki, who discussed important issues on city making, civic dialogue and engagement, and building a more equitable Boston.
In 2020, the Sasaki Foundation led the Mobility Innovator, a year-long initiative funded by the Barr Foundation and in partnership with Sasaki, to address mobility challenges in the Boston region through the lenses of resiliency and equity.
In 2021, the Sasaki Foundation announced Jennifer Lawrence as the next executive director to guide the foundation in pursuit of our vision: a future in which the power of community-based planning and design is fully realized for the benefit of the public good.
In 2022, the Sasaki Foundation moved to downtown Boston with Sasaki. This new location will provide even more opportunities for programs, partnerships, and design education.
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.
In 2022, the Sasaki Foundation moved to downtown Boston with Sasaki. This location provides even more opportunities for programs, partnerships, and outreach to aspiring design students. We remain committed to our mission, fostering equity, empowering communities, and strengthening education in design. We continue our efforts in our focus areas—Creative Community Building, New Models for Housing, Innovation in Transit and Access to Mobility Choices, Innovation in Health and Wellbeing, and Proactive Approaches to Climate Adaptation—while exploring new possibilities.