Wellesley Architecture Students Win Boston Design Competition
Design by Anna Lake-Smith ’13 and Marguerite Sulmont ’13 One of Three Entries Selected for Top Honors
Wellesley seniors Anna Lake-Smith and Marguerite Sulmont recently won a unique Boston design contest. Their proposal, SiteSeeing, was one of three entries selected for top honors in the inaugural Connect Historic Boston Public Art Ideas Competition.
Connect Historic Boston is an initiative launched by the City of Boston Transportation Department and the National Parks Service in 2011. The initiative seeks to connect historic sites of interest in Boston, such as Faneuil Hall and the Harbor Islands Pavilion, with transit hubs. Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in press release, “We want to encourage neighborhood residents and tourists to walk, bike, and ride the T to our public destinations to reduce pollution from single-occupancy cars.”
This year, Connect Historic Boston invited New England students (both undergraduate and graduate) to envision creative connections between the city and the people who visit there. “How do you engage and activate the streets, infrastructure, stations, waterways, sites, and even transportation itself, enhancing the experience of moving through the city?” asked the prompt:
What are the opportunities to create a memorable event or intervention that celebrates city life? Is it performative, ephemeral, temporal, or virtual? Can you imagine a Hubway (bikeshare) ballet? A light, sound, or video installation? A ferry parade? The scope is broad and far-reaching, but whatever you conjure up MUST relate to transportation, movement and place.
The competition received 17 submissions from 10 different colleges and universities, including the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Three entries, including Lake-Smith and Sulmont’s entry, were chosen as winning proposals. A fourth was given an honorable mention.
“We have never done a design competition before, and we thought this would be a good opportunity to do so before we enter the real world,” said Lake-Smith. “As architecture students, we are both very interested in the urban development of Boston. This competition allowed us the freedom to intersect art and planning.”
Lake-Smith and Sulmont described their winning entry as follows:
SiteSeeing proposes a series of periscopes to connect the subterranean and the pedestrian worlds. Each periscope provides a 360-degree panorama of the street above, and its color corresponds to the line on which it is located. One role the periscopes will fill is a tool for wayfinding, but they will take on different functions for different users. For everyone, SiteSeeing provides a new way to understand a complex, dynamic place. It allows viewers to orient themselves and become conscious of their movements within the city—both above and below ground.
Martha McNamara, director of New England Arts and the Wellesley Architecture Program, and Daniela Rivera, assistant professor of art, advised Lake-Smith and Sulmont on the design, and Jordan Tynes, technology support specialist in the Art Department, helped the students stitch together the photographs used in the design board.
“The design of the apparatus was playful and inviting, perfect to be placed in public spaces,” said Rivera. “Anna and Marguerite developed something that I wished existed when I was going to grad school here in Boston and I was just starting to negotiate the complexities of the Boston transportation system and the intricate city street map."
Rivera continued, “What I love about their project is that they didn't go for a crazy ambitious public art display, or a monumental object, but they decided on a playful and very simple object... They were able to link the underground transportation, its life and enclosure with the ground city life and provide the users with a sense of location that is lost many times as you allow the T to take you from one place to another. Pretty brilliant in my opinion.”
Lake-Smith and Sulmont both serve on the Student Residential Experience committee as part of the Wellesley 2025 initiative. After Commencement, they will begin their architectural careers, with Sulmont in Boston and Lake-Smith in Austin, Texas. Sulmont was also recently featured in B.O.W for Sustainability, a Wellesley Stories video, viewable on the Wire.
“The contest means a lot to me because it's made me more confident in my abilities as a designer and creative thinker,” said Sulmont. “It has definitely motivated me to look for and participate in other design competitions. I also had a great time working on this with Anna and being able to win this with her is such a great way to end our senior year!”
SiteSeeing, along with the other contest submissions, will be on display at the BSA Space, Boston’s leading cultural institution on architecture and design, as part of an exhibit highlighting the Connect Historic Boston Initiative during the month of June.
—Gabrielle Linnell '13