Cultivating Creativity and Community with the Arts
Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Resilient Places in America

Hosted in partnership with the Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy as a part of its 2021 Spring Myra Kraft Open Classroom, Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just, and Resilient Places in America explores the role of design in cities.

The series is presented in partnership with the Association of Architecture Organizations, Association of Collegiate Schools of ArchitectureBoston Society for Architecture, and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

Artists and arts organizations have long served as cultural anchors, community builders, and catalysts for civic change. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts CEO Deborah Cullinan, Santa Fe Art Institute Executive Director Jamie Blosser, and PROYECTO real estate development consultant Daniel Hernandez discussed the role of cultural organizations in cities and the impact of large-scale arts-based urban development including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (1999 Gold Medalist)—the redevelopment of 87-acres in downtown San Francisco into a cultural hub hosting museums, public gardens, a convention center and hotel, and mixed-income housing. They and Boston Chief of Arts and Culture Kara Elliott Ortega and King Boston’s Imari Paris Jeffries considered how insight from the development and evolution of these places, cultural planning efforts like BostonCreates, and leadership and experience of arts and cultural organizations are informing and driving current initiatives like Midtown Santa Fe and King Boston.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand and describe how investments in arts and culture can address community welfare and affect economic, environmental, and social change.
  • Discuss the value of integrating art and collaborative partnerships with cultural organizations into design, planning, and development processes and projects. 
  • Identify and describe examples of arts-based development initiatives, programs, and projects that foster community engagement and strengthen communities. 
  • Discuss the role of the arts in promoting creativity, innovation and civic pride in cities.

This session was recorded on Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 as part of Northeastern University’s Myra Kraft Open Classroom 2021 Spring series. ASLA and APA continuing education credits are available thanks to partnerships with Boston Society of Landscape Architects and the American Planning Association, Ohio Chapter.

Deborah Cullinan, Chief Executive Officer, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) CEO Deborah Cullinan is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the pivotal role artists and arts organizations can play in shaping our social and political landscape, and has spent years mobilizing communities through arts and culture. Deborah is committed to revolutionizing the role art centers play in public life and during her tenure at YBCA, she has launched several bold new programs, engagement strategies, and civic coalitions. She is a Field Leader in Residence at Arizona State University’s National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and a former Innovator in Residence at the Kauffman Foundation. She currently serves on Governor Gavin Newsom’s Jobs and Business Recovery Task Force.

Daniel Hernandez, Founder, PROYECTO
Daniel Hernandez is a real estate developer, planner, and project manager and founder of PROYECTO. With over 25 years of experience, Daniel’s portfolio includes a broad range of project types in urban places from San Francisco to New York. He has been in leadership positions throughout his career, and managed all phases of project development, from programming and planning, analysis and financing, through construction and asset management. Daniel was a 1998 Harvard Loeb Fellow.

Jamie Blosser, Executive Director, Santa Fe Art Institute
Jamie, an architect, has based her practice on issues of equity, resilience, and participatory processes. She completed a Loeb Fellowship in 2015 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and served as an AIA delegate for the UN Habitat III convening in Quito in October 2016. Jamie was the Director of the Santa Fe office of AOS Architects for 10 years. Her community design work with Ohkay Owingeh, a Pueblo tribe in Northern New Mexico, led to revitalization of their historic plaza area, and has been published in several magazines and books. She received her Masters in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

Kara Elliot Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture, City of Boston
Kara Elliott-Ortega is an urban planner and cultural organizer focusing on the role of arts and creativity in community building and government. As the Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, she oversees the Arts and Culture cabinet. This includes the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture which supports Boston’s artists, organizations, and cultural ecosystem to create a vibrant city where all of Boston’s communities can express creativity and agency.

Imari Paris Jeffries, Executive Director, King Boston
Imari Paris Jeffries brings a wealth of experience from the nonprofit management, community activism, education reform, and social justice sectors, and has served in executive roles at Parenting Journey, Jumpstart, Boston Rising, and Friends of The Children. He serves as a Trustee of the UMass System, as well as on the boards of USES, Providers Council, and Governor Baker’s Black Advisory Commission. He is a three-time graduate of UMass Boston and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. through UMass Boston’s Higher Education Program.

Anne-Marie Lubenau (moderator), FAIA, is the director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence at the Bruner Foundation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An architect, educator and writer, she is an advocate for engaging people in the design of the built environment and increasing awareness of its impact on our lives. She contributes regularly to national and international publications and forums on design and urban development and is a member of the Boston Civic Design Commission, Harvard GSD Alumni Council, and the Association of Architecture Organization’s board of directors. She holds a BArch from Carnegie Mellon and was a 2012 Harvard Loeb Fellow.

Ted Landsmark (facilitator) is a Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs; Director, Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. Ted is an architect, attorney, academic, and civil rights activist who serves as one of five members of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.




Yerba Buena Center for the Arts  Case Study (1999 RBA Gold Medalist)

The Monument as Living Memory: A Collective Architectural Intervention led by Caleb Duarte. Courtesy Deborah Cullinan.
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (1999 RBA Gold Medalist) is the redevelopment of 87-acres in downtown San Francisco into a cultural hub hosting museums, public gardens, a convention center and hotel, and mixed-income housing. For more information about Yerba Buena Center for the Arts check out the Rudy Bruner Award case study to learn about the project’s urban context and history, leadership and vision, collaborative partnerships, design and development, financing, operations and programming, and impact.

Midtown Santa Fe Visual Arts Center

A Visual Arts Center in Midtown Santa Fe designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta.
  • Midtown Santa Fe is the redevelopment of a 64-acre site that includes a Visual Arts Center designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta into an inclusive community anchored in arts and creativity. Santa Fe Art Institute programming, including Recentering Santa Fe and the Tilt Podcast “Unsettled Series,” is helping to identify, honor, and preserve community memories and values.

King Boston

A Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King memorial on Boston Common. Courtesy Imari Paris Jefferies.
  • King Boston is developing a memorial titled “The Embrace” to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King on Boston Common along with a research center and festival that address social justice.


Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston launched the Boston Creates Cultural Plan. Courtesy ArtsBoston.
  • BostonCreates was completed in 2016, the process of developing the Boston Creates cultural plan engaged residents, arts and culture organizations, and other sectors in developing a shared vision for embedding arts, culture, and creativity in the center of the city.