September 21, 2021

SEED students design pop-up cooling spots

SEED students design pop-up cooling spots

This summer, the Sasaki Foundation hosted our fourth annual Summer Exploratory Experience in Design (SEED) program. SEED is a six-week paid internship for high school students from the Boston area. With the help of teaching assistants and Sasaki design mentors, the students learn about careers in the design field and develop their own tactical urbanism project.
This year, we welcomed seven high school students from neighborhoods across Greater Boston, including Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Mattapan, Somerville, South Boston, and West Roxbury. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we once again conducted the program remotely. In addition to working virtually, students participated in outdoor group site visits and explored their own neighborhoods. Each week, as part of the design coursework, students also had the opportunity to interview a Sasaki principal and were free to ask the leaders anything. SEED student Justin noted, “It was really inspiring to see how all of [the principals] eventually got into design.”
The 2021 SEED program also included a new collaboration with students in Ghana. Sasaki principal Dennis Pieprz, Hon. ASLA, connected the Sasaki Foundation to Kwaku Keddey from Habitance Foundation. Kwaku was inspired by the SEED program and is now coordinating a similar program with youth in Ghana. Sasaki design mentors presented for both groups on various topics, such as site analysis, streetscapes, and materials and site construction. Students from our local SEED program and the Ghana program interacted throughout the summer to share design ideas from their unique perspectives and contexts.
​Over the six-week internship, our SEED students worked in three small teams to design pop-up cooling spots adjacent to public libraries in the City of Boston. Students began sketching ideas on a site visit to a Cool Spot designed by Sasaki at the Egleston Square Library. The Cool Spots—a partnership with the City of Boston Department of the Environment, Boston Public Libraries, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, Klimaat, and Landscape Forms—have free Wi-Fi, shaded seating, and misters for the community to use during hot summer months.
The program culminated with each team presenting their final design to their design mentors and Sasaki principals. The first team focused on soundscapes as a main concept. They took the noises of the street and designed a series of structures that would both embrace and mitigate the acoustics on site, brilliantly arranging their program to take advantage of all the various noise levels. The second team studied the effects of historical redlining on today’s heat islands and looked for opportunities in Roxbury to bring cooling structures to those who need them most. The team focused on the communal nature of a beehive for their concept and worked hexagonal shapes into their design in an innovative and inspiring way. The third team worked on an impressive design focused on biomimicry. They brought the forest of Franklin Park to the site and created a canopy of wooden trees that both supports vegetation and collects rainwater to help cool the users through water and shade. Sasaki architect and SEED coordinator Meredith McCarthy stated, “The students jumped right in and for six weeks worked hard on their designs, presenting them in stunning fashion.”

While we all look forward to returning the SEED program to a fully in-person format, the students still came away with a meaningful experience and a deeper understanding of the design field and the opportunities it offers. Sophia said the program was “a really helpful experience in deciding how I feel about architecture and design and I am grateful to have been a part of it.” Kiana shared that “after the 6 weeks of non-stop design, exercises, and interviews, I was opened up to a whole new world of design.”

The Sasaki Foundation would like to thank this summer’s TAs: Rebecca Dejenie, Emely Fernandez, and Shemar Stewart, and all of our Sasaki design mentors: Madelyn Albright, Diane Athaide, Madeeha Ayub, Eileen Gainfort, Timothy Gale, Diana Gallo, Elaine Limmer, Yasmin Maura-Orihuela, Emily Parris, Jordan Pulling, Kara Slocum, Rob Sugar, Lanmuzhi Yang, and Ben Zunkeler. We also would like to thank the Sasaki principals who took part in the weekly interviews: CEO James Miner, AICP; principal and Chair of Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Ecology Michael Grove, FASLA, PLA; principal and landscape architect Kate Tooke, ASLA, PLA; principal and urban designer Mary Anne Ocampo; and principal and architect Chris Sgarzi. A special thank you to Hana Estice for program support and photography, to David Morgan for his virtual reality tutorial, and to Jay Nothoff for introducing the students to Sasaki’s Fabrication Studio.


Stay updated with the latest stories, news, and events.