Design Advocacy:
Fostering Conversation About Boston’s Future

Hosted in partnership with the Boston Society for Architecture’s Intersections: Equity, Environment + the City Symposium on intersectional and participatory design processes in Boston.

Click here to access the webinar recorded on November 2nd, 2021.

Boston is at an inflection point. Like many cities across America, it is experiencing unprecedented growth and change while simultaneously confronting the impacts of climate change, systemic racism, and increasing socioeconomic disparity. The months ahead will be pivotal as the city addresses the ongoing pandemic, an influx of federal investment, and a new mayoral administration.

What is the city Boston wants to be? What role will design play in Boston’s future? Who will be responsible for developing the vision and stewarding its implementation? How can design professionals engage—both individually and collectively—in critical conversations and strategies that influence the city’s future? How do we engage our broader community in the process?

In Spring 2021 the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) partnered with Northeastern University‘s Open Classroom to explore these questions with Inspiring Design: Creating Beautiful, Just and Inspiring Places in America, a 14-week speaker series that brought together leading voices from across America who shared experiences and stories about innovative urban development initiatives.

The RBA’s Anne-Marie Lubenau convened Ted Landsmark, Director of Northeastern University’s Open Classroom, and David Gamble, editor of Unconventional Conventions: Transforming Boston’s Future—an upcoming collection of essays by local design practitioners on the challenges the city faces in the 21st century, for a discussion about ways Boston and other cities can leverage lessons learned from other places and local resources and talent to shape the future.

Together they considered ways to foster more dialogue about design and tap into our community’s experience and resources to build a better—more beautiful, just, and resilient—Boston.

Learning Objectives
  • Understand and describe how the creation of inclusive places can address community welfare and affect economic, environmental, and social change.
  • Discuss the value of engaging in collaborative partnerships in the planning, design, and development of inclusive, community-based projects.
  • Identify and describe approaches to addressing equity via the planning, design, and development of places and programming.
  • Identify and describe examples of award-winning projects that illustrate the role of design in addressing equity.

This session was recorded on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Click here or the image below to access the video.


Ted Landsmark, 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.


David Gamble, Principal, Gamble Associates
David Gamble is Principal of Gamble Associates, a Cambridge-MA based practice that focuses on urban revitalization and community development. He is a Lecturer and Design Critic in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) and is Chair of the American Institute of Architects Regional and Urban Design Committee. David is co-author of “Rebuilding the American City” (co-author Patty Heyda) which looks at the catalytic effects of urban design and planning projects with a focus on creative implementation strategies. His forthcoming book “Unconventional Conventions” convenes more than two dozen Boston-based educators and practitioners that reflect on ways to make Boston more equitable, resilient and beautiful in the future.

Anne-Marie Lubenau, Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence
Anne-Marie is dedicated to engaging people in the process of design and increasing understanding of the built environment and its impact on our lives. She is director of the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, a national design award that recognizes transformative urban places distinguished by their economic and social contributions to American cities. Anne-Marie previously served as CEO of the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh and was a 2012 Harvard Loeb Fellow.



Open Classroom Series

Unconventional Conventions: Transforming Boston’s Future

  • David Gamble assembled a collection of essays by Boston-based civic leaders, urban development practitioners, and educators that address this question as the city navigates a period of substantial change and challenges in the 21st century. Organized around a dozen themes, Unconventional Conventions: Transforming Boston’s Future (coming soon) offers valuable insight and innovative approaches and is intended to be a platform for community conversations in Boston and elsewhere. Watch the Lessons Learned video recording (14:56) for a preview.

Inspiring Design Webinar Series

Image: HUD Office of Policy Development and Research