Outdoor Furniture for Boston’s Fort Point Channel
Design brings communities together. Public seating sets the scene for chance encounters, people watching, connecting with nature, or just taking a break.
On September 20, 2012 Design Museum Boston invited individuals and teams from around the world to rethink the humble public bench and design an iconic bench or ‘street seat’ for around the Fort Point Channel. The goal of the challenge was to improve the livability of this burgeoning urban area, using design, while being socially and environmentally conscious.
We received over 170 entries from all over the world — 23 countries in all were represented. Entrants participated by designing sustainable outdoor sidewalk furniture with a focus on reuse, using environmentally-friendly materials, and innovative construction methods. Design teams recorded their process along with their final designs.
Street Seats: Reimagining the Public Bench is the culmination of this incredible challenge. The outdoor exhibition features 17 unique public benches. Enjoy a walk around the Fort Point Channel and see the city in a whole new light.
Exhibit & Tours
Fort Point Channel — Boston, MA 02210
Exhibition Now Closed — Look for Street Seats out and about this summer, and see the entries below:
Let your light shine to express your enthusiasm for Street Seats!
Starting at sunset, our interactive web application allows you to change the color of the Design Museum Boston Beacons at each Street Seats location around Fort Point Channel. Try it by scanning the QR code at one of the Beacons or by visiting benches.designmuseumboston.org on your smartphone.
How does it work? A wireless connection between each solar-powered Beacon and our web application links you to intelligent LED lighting fixtures powered by technology from Philips Color Kinetics. Use the web application to select a Beacon, choose your color, and see it appear!
Participate in your city! Citizens are finding new ways to engage with the city via innovative web applications, new open data sources, and other cutting-edge technologies. We hope you enjoy this simple, playful exploration of participatory urbanism. How will your experience of the city change as a result of these opportunities? Please share your comments with us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Enjoy!
At a special event on February 28, 2013 our distinguished judges chose 20 semi-finalists that best met the design criteria including: innovation, durability, sustainability, aesthetics, and comfort. The winning entries were inspired by the rich history of the Fort Point community and the possibilities of Boston’s Innovation District. The semi-finalists received a grant from Design Museum Boston and the Street Seats sponsors to fabricate their full-scale bench. Seventeen of these beautifully innovative benches are now on view in our exhibition, Street Seats: Reimagining the Public Bench, outside around Boston’s Fort Point Channel.
Brian Slozak, Marc D. Gabriel
Spagnolo Gisness & Associates
Boston, MA USA
Joseph Chun Jr., Natalie Fizer, Sutton Murray, Emily Stevenson
New York, NY USA
Matt Trimble, Haik Tokatlyan, Jared Steinmark, Bob Williamson
Charlestown, MA USA
Harrington College of Design
Chicago, IL USA
New York, NY USA
Sarah Burley, Tyler Dawson , Cale Kaufman, Tai Geng, Blake Morton, Colton Sanford
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA USA
Chicago, IL USA
Appalachian State University
Cary, NC USA
Currey and Company
Decatur, GA USA
Arvin Abadilla, Jason Cooper, Justin Cumming, Kat Hoy, Ian Schon, Eric Whewell
Make Stuff Lab
Boston, MA USA
Rui Chen, Christa Lee, Sanchit Mittal, Wendell Wilson
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA USA
Francisco Carbajal, Hiroshi Ikenaga, Daniel Olvera, Alice Pegman, Carla Santillán, Karime Tosca
Mexico City, Mexico
Dirk Ahlgrim, Prat Ganapathy, David Goligorsky, Ann Kim, Sophy Lee, Timothy McGee, Liza Rutenbeck, Greg Wolos, Karl Abele, Ryan Habbyshaw
Cambridge, MA USA
Marco Goffi Design
Katie MacDonald, Kyle Schumann
Ithaca, NY USA
Interested in sponsoring Street Seats? Contact us for more details.
View all 172 Street Seats Design Challenge Entries:
Tom Ashbrook. Host, On Point, WBUR Boston.
Tom is an award-winning journalist brought to public radio by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was enlisted by NPR and WBUR Boston for special coverage, after a distinguished career in newspaper reporting and editing. Tom’s career in journalism spans twenty years as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor and author. He spent ten years in Asia — based in India, Hong Kong, and Japan — starting at the South China Morning Post, then as a correspondent for The Boston Globe.
Mike Cully. President, AIR Graphics.
As President. and CEO of AIR Graphics Mike leads a diverse group of talented and engaged professionals dedicated to serving the design community and making AIR Graphics a leading provider of services. A former owner of Miller Reprographics in the mid-1970’s, Mike opened a CAD design service bureau in 1979. In 1986 he launched Applied Image Reprographics ( the “AIR” in AIR Graphics) He sat on many industry’s board of directors. He served the Eastern Regional Reprographics Association as President from 1993-2000, and recently served as The President of the International Reprographics president until 2010.
Matt Edlen. Development and Acquisitions, Gerding Edlen.
Matt Edlen grew up with the values of sustainability and urban design and is working to evolve them to meet the needs of a new generation. He has worked both on the operations and development side, keenly focused on the cultivation and curation of community. He continues to push the agenda that space has the ability to transcend the physical to be a catalyst for great ideas and connections. In addition to his work with Gerding Edlen, he is cofounder of HUB/Portland, which works to promote social entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainability.
Mary Fichtner. Director of Programs & Exhibits, BSA.
Mary currently serves as Director of Programs and Exhibits at the Boston Society of Architects. Prior to joining the BSA, Mary spent five years as Executive Director of Boston By Foot, a nonprofit architectural walking tour service. With an MA in Art History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mary also has experience managing and directing art galleries, including Hurst Gallery in Cambridge, MA. She currently serves as chairman of the board of Gallery 263, a nonprofit community art space in Cambridgeport, MA and sits on the steering committee of the Beacon Hill Civic Association’s Young Professionals.
Zeina Grinnell. Development Director, Skanska USA.
As a director in Skanska’s Commercial Development group, Zeina is responsible for developing high performing buildings for emerging communities throughout Boston. Blending her background in architecture and real estate, she has a passion for design, sustainability, and promoting a higher standard in urban living. Currently, she is overseeing the mixed-use green residential tower, Watermark Seaport, which will be a cornerstone of community engagement in Boston’s Innovation District. In addition to her work with Skanska, Zeina and her family are enthusiastic supporters of the arts, and longtime sponsors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay and The Museum of Science.
Julie Handorff. Community Relations/Philanthropy Specialist, P&G.
Julie Handorff leads the community relations and giving programs for P&G Gillette. She also has responsibilities for maintaining the Gillette Archive collection and co-leading efforts on Gillette World Shaving Headquarters Earth Week and other Sustainability initiatives. Julie began working for Gillette in 1998. She is on the Board of Trustees for The Boston Harbor Association and Friends of Fort Point Channel.
Danielle Pillion. Executive Director, Friends of Fort Point Channel.
Ms. Pillion joined the Friends of Fort Point Channel as Executive Director in February 2009. As Director, she oversees the implementation of the Fort Point Watersheet Activation Plan and the promotion of the Fort Point Channel as an exciting and welcoming destination for Boston’s resident, workforce and visitors. Prior to joining the Friends, Ms. Pillion was the Membership Director at the Environmental Business Council of New England. Throughout that time she completed her Master’s degree in Leadership and Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University.
Scott Reilly. Board Chairman, Design Museum Boston.
Reilly is a website content writer, curator, private art/decorative arts collection management consultant based in Boston. Prior to joining DMB’s board of directors, he had served on the boards of the Museum of Design Atlanta as well as The Contemporary, Atlanta. Scott originally hails from Boston having served as development director for the Archaeological Institute of America. He has curated a number of exhibitions and published several articles on various aspects of 20th century design. He holds an A.B. from Harvard College and is a personal collector of modern and contemporary design along with contemporary photography and new media/experimental art.
Gabrielle Schaffner. Executive Director, Fort Point Arts Community
Gabrielle is the Executive Director of The Fort Point Arts Community Inc. of South Boston (FPAC), a ceramic artist, and a long time resident of Fort Point. She is also the coordinator of FPAC’s Open Studios Programming. FPAC is a non-profit community organization founded in 1980 by area artists and volunteers to enrich the Fort Point area with a resident live/work artist population that contributes to the district’s and the City of Boston’s cultural life, representing more than 300 local artists.
Mark Schianca. Director & Curator, Grand Circle Gallery
Mark is the Director and Curator of Grand Circle Gallery and serves as Manager of Corporate Culture & History for parent company Grand Circle Corporation, an international travel company. Located in Boston’s Fort Point Channel neighborhood, the gallery exhibits vintage travel posters and other travel -related artwork and photography. Prior to joining Grand Circle, Mark has worked in the advertising and design community in Boston for such companies as Ingalls, Quinn & Johnson, Arnold Worldwide/Cipriani Kremer Design, and Philips Design Group. He holds a BFA in graphic design and a minor in art history and photography.
David Silverman. Principal, Silverman Trykowski Associates
David Silverman is a registered architect and Principal of Silverman Trykowski Associates, a Boston based architecture and interior design studio. In 2010, David founded the Urban Neighborhood Design Alliance, a non-profit organization providing educational initiatives for people of all ages to actively engage in the design of their neighborhoods. David is active in the design community as an educator, and teaches at the BAC, where he has also served on the Board of Trustees and as President of the Alumni Association. In 2012, David received the Award for Excellence in Teaching given by the BSA + AIA College of Fellows.
Bruce Smith. Design Director, Seating & Surface Material, Steelcase.
Bruce has been with Steelcase since 1986. For 100 years, Steelcase has been bringing human insight to business by studying how people work, wherever they work. Those insights can help organizations achieve a higher level of performance, by creating places that unlock the promise of their people. Bruce is a skilled professional with experience in design thinking, design strategy, product, furniture and industrial design. He has led the design of some of the office furniture industry’s most successful products.
Ming Tsai. Chef & Owner, Blue Ginger & Blue Dragon.
Ming Tsai is the James Beard Award-winning chef/owner of two restaurants – Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon. Also an Emmy Award-winner, Ming hosts PBS-TV’s Simply Ming, now in its tenth season. Ming is the author of five cookbooks, including his latest Simply Ming In Your Kitchen. In 2012, Ming was invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to represent the U.S. with the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Initiative/American Chef Corps. The Chef Corps is a network of American chefs that participate with official government programs that use food as a foundation for international diplomacy efforts.
Lauren Young. Marketing Manager, Boston Design Center.
Lauren Young is the Marketing Manager of the Boston Design Center. She is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with all media, industry, and charitable partners. She serves as primary liaison between the BDC’s executive offices and its showrooms, as well as outside industry professional organizations. She manages the full schedule of BDC events, from monthly lectures, to multi-day design conferences to large scale consumer events. Prior to joining the BDC, she worked in showroom management for Billie Brenner Ltd and served as office manager for Boston-based interior designer Dennis Duffy. She graduated from Endicott College with a degree in Interior Design.
- Fort Point Operations Board
- Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
- Boston Art Commission
- Friends of Fort Point Channel
- Factory 63
- IDSA Boston