November 12, 2018

Building a Community of Researchers

Building a Community of Researchers

Alexandra Lee



This last month has been a special time in the Incubator at Sasaki, where the inaugural teams of researchers chosen through the Sasaki Foundation Design Grants program in September have come together to advance their project work.

Projects range from creating floating wetlands in the Charles River — to crafting residential and workforce development opportunities for young women of color in Roxbury — to building community understanding about approaches to rising water in East Boston — to developing software to expand housing options throughout Boston — to creating an art exhibit that can be experienced without the benefit of sight just down the river in Watertown.

The approach of the Foundation is to reach into many communities across greater Boston and bring together constituents who don’t regularly have access to design to support them in building stronger, more resilient communities. It is exhilarating to see our first cohort of researchers and project teams really beginning to gel after their first month together.

To welcome the teams to Sasaki, the Foundation hosted a reception in the Incubator and included principals from the firm to introduce the teams to the extraordinary offerings that a global design firm provides. The vision of the Foundation is to lift up the capacity of these teams by supporting their approach to research and provoking their thinking as designers do through the iterative practice of understanding, innovating, prototyping, testing, and implementing projects.

The magic of working in a community coworking space enables these teams to sit side by side as they tackle their research and create their frameworks for implementing their projects. Not only do the researchers benefit from proximity to each other, but they experience the added benefit of having Sasaki designers working alongside them in the Incubator.

Through regular community programming, both the Foundation and Sasaki are able to provide an exchange of ideas that support the work of the research teams and foster collaboration among all parties. Within these early weeks, we are heartened to see the teams already sharing information and collaborating, and coming up with new ways they can work together on current projects and future initiatives.

The early indicators suggest that this creative environment envisioned and built by Sasaki will provide access to design thinking and unexpected benefits to the communities we aspire to support and impact.


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