Transforming the I-93 Overpass

June 4, 2015 | | View Comments


We are thrilled to announce our upcoming project, the Urban Innovation Gallery, an exciting urban intervention and education program which will explore placemaking strategies under the I-93 highway overpass near Traveler Street and West 4th Street. We’ve termed this 2.5 square mile area the Neighborhood Border Zone (NBZ). The area includes intersecting highways and train tracks from Boston’s South Station, creating dark over-passes that split Boston’s Chinatown, South Boston, Fort Point, and South End neighborhoods — resulting in an urban depression in what should be the heart of Boston’s artistic and innovative core.


Placemaking brings together design, community, and space to increase livability.

To develop an outdoor Urban Innovation Gallery we’ve connected and partnered with community, civic, and business leaders. Together we aim to connect the diverse residents of the NBZ with artists, designers, engineers, and policymakers to create activity and exhibit innovative solutions to urban problems. With community support, we can increase the livability and vibrancy of this important part of Boston. As we endeavor to transform the Neighborhood Border Zone into the Urban Innovation Gallery, we’ll employ our experience in placemaking to build community, connect neighborhoods, and create a destination; but to do this, we need your help!

Get involved!

  • Volunteer! Help us transform the Neighborhood Border Zone into an Urban Innovation Gallery by helping with events, design, installation, and more — to volunteer, fill out this form >
  • Sponsor this project! Thanks to an amazing grant from ArtPlace America we’ve kicked off the project — we need your help and support to make it a success. To receive more information about sponsorship, fill out this form >
  • Form an Urban Innovation Festival team. Multidisciplinary teams will take part in our 3-day Urban Innovation Festival next summer, start thinking about your team and stay tuned for our Call for Teams, coming soon! More info below…


This is a multi-year placemaking project!

What is placemaking you ask? The National Endowment for the Arts defined it nicely in a 2012 white paper, Creative Placemaking:

In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired.

Put simply, placemaking brings together design, community, and space to create or increase the livability and vibrancy of a place. That’s what we’re doing in the NBZ. We believe engagement plus education plus action equals a deeper understanding and a lasting impact.



Project Plan Highlights

  • Video Series: the entire Urban Innovation Gallery project will be chronicled in a video series — check out the first episode above!
  • Special Events: educational events focused on placemaking, bringing experts in the creative placemaking movement directly to you.
  • Year 1, Placemaking Murals: what we hear from our partners and residents is that it’s past time for some activity in the NBZ, so we’re planning to wrap the highway columns with Placemaking Murals, beautiful graphic design work visualizing the placemaking processes and outcomes.
  • Year 2, Urban Innovation Festival: a 3-day outdoor festival (aka hack-a-thon) open to the public and featuring multidisciplinary teams addressing the unique challenges of the NBZ. Each team will receive space under the overpass, they’ll each be paired with a neighborhood stakeholder, and we’ll assign an urban innovation challenge. Teams will develop installations, services, and apps — all prototyped and displayed during the festival. Our judges will choose a select number of prototypes to receive funding and mentorship to move forward, these prototypes will be featured in…
  • Year 3, Urban Innovation Gallery: an outdoor gallery of innovative urban solutions ranging from physical to digital, products to services. Our goal is to create a destination and to connect neighborhoods with design — you’ll want to see all the urban prototypes!