BUILDING: community + architecture

broadleaf has been a part of the development of Boston Progress Arts Collective since 2004, and East Meets West Bookstore since it’s opening in fall 2004.  we’ve worked to create physical and social strategies that will sustain and continue to push the growth of both projects.

during 2006-2007, i spent focused time thinking about the possibilities of BPAC and EMW.  i formally developed these ideas into my graduate thesis.  i thought i’d share it here, to give an example of the importance of both social and built architecture.

BPAC is a community of API* artists that aims to create a supportive space and outlet for personal growth, creative expression, and artistic exploration. We strive to use art as an active means for mobilization and education within our communities locally, nationally, and beyond.

East Meets West is the largest API* independent bookstore and arts space in New England (and the East Cost, i think).  It is home to East Meets Words Open Mic, Open Orchestra,, local exhibitions, and many other special events programming.

To collectively create an image that will sustain the growth both EMW and BPAC, along with other local community-based organizations (CAPAY and AARW) we held discussions to envision what the small bookstore could become.  In the fall of 2006, we created a step-by-step strategic process that would maximize community-impact, based on vision, programs, funding. and in built representation.


to visualize what this plan would look like, as the architect of the team, i designed  architectural suggestions.

chapter 1: artistic interventions on the exterior of the building:


chapter 2: increasing programs to take over the existing building


Chapter 3, would be the complete renovation and redesign of the current building, 934 MAss Ave in Cambridge, MA.  This was the design portion of my graduate thesis.

My goal was to create an architecture that would amplify the visbility and presence of the API* community, as well as create a built structure that would enable and maximize the affect of programs.

I wanted to create an architecture that physically, and socially represented the API*, as well as build, with both people and bricks.




the interior space provides flexibility and potential for growth.  a multiplicity of programs can occur in the space at once.  everything serves various functions.  a bookshelf is a railing and a room partition.  sectional shifts in elevation provide a stage and separation of space. exterior ramps and platforms provide infrastructure that enables (and eases) the process of exterior art installation/viewing.




space is delineated without the use of walls, maintaining a sense of openness, transparency of process, and exchange of information

conceptually, East Meets West Arts Space is still “one room”.  The proposal scales up current programs while maintaining a spirit of the past.


Although we are far from rebuilding the entire store, we have come along way since the opening in 2004.  this thesis proposal serves as a vehicle to dream outloud, and envision, what can be…  perhaps in the not-too-distant-future.


Building Blocks: An Urban Playscape

We have submitted a proposal for an artists grant from the Black Rock Arts Fund.

Building Blocks are a playful system of life-size modules designed to interlock to create almost any type of structure imaginable.  Building Blocks are a reusable micro-architecture that community organizations, public artists, and passersby can play with to construct furniture, playgrounds, stages, walls, and beyond, to create temporary public places of momentary delight and political awareness amidst the monotonous city. 

Below are our images/perspectives for Building Blocks



during my first semester of grad school, i was trying to find my process, my methodology for design (well this is still happening…)  i was fortunate enough to have a studio critic that encouraged material discovery and stressed the importance of craft- of the hand, not just computer. 


the second project of the term, we were assigned to design a bridge that connected two buildings, but additionally was a small library and held program of its own.

i went through a series of abstract study models or small-scale sculptures, made of commonplace materials, to see how the materials would influence the form of the bridge.  the first model (left) was made from cast plaster.  i was investigating how i could reach one side of the building facade, to another, using discrete forms- rather than have just one continuous and heavy object that seemed glued to both facades.  the second model (center)  explored the characteristics of wood and how it would act when bent- both the limitations and advantages.  with the last model (right) created from corrugated cardboard i wanted to make an ordinary material- regular boxes- seem beautiful and delicate while playing with affect.

the resulting building design is a synthesized translation of the working models.  i was hoping for a simple autonomous form, one that stood on its own and was not a part of either building.  the bend wood facade of the library differentiates itself even further from the surrounding buildings and well as providing a varied lighting affect inside.  

this was one of the very first attempts at designing architecture. this studio exercise was extremely helpful. i uncovered that i designed with my hands and needed to make things, in steps and in pieces, to actualize a final product.

you need to see beauty, to create beauty

this past weekend, broadleaf took a trip out to western mass to enjoy the changing of the seasons.  a quick trip out of the city to see natural and artificial works of art.

the ride out on route 2

panorama over north adams

glacial and daisy age


mass moca- industrial turned art industry

vaughn bell, personal home biospheres

anselm kiefer

patty chang (L) jenny holzer (R)

mohawk/north adams

it’s always nice to get away for a minute.  surround yourself with freshness.  then returning to the everyday is a bit more welcomed.