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New Urban Mechanics

We work across departments and communities to explore, experiment, and evaluate new approaches to government and civic life. 

Our office was formed in 2010 as the Mayor's civic research and design team. We explore and tackle experiments and prototypes that cover a range of topics. This includes everything from the future of mobility to City infrastructure to collective well-being.

Join us!

We are looking for someone to build off of the initial successes of the Housing Innovation Lab (HIL). The ideal candidate will bring energy and direction to develop a new portfolio of initiatives to help make Boston affordable for all. The director will work with senior leaders across City government to test new housing programs and policies. Our goal is to ensure the affordability of housing in Boston in the decades to come.

HIL Director Job Description

New Urban Mechanics
1 City Hall Square
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02201
United States
Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm
Office Hours

Do you have an innovative idea to improve the City? Let us know through email, or schedule an in-person brainstorm during an upcoming office hours. We host 30-minute blocks every Tuesday, from 2 - 5 p.m. 

2018 Year in Review

We've put together a brief year in review of some of our 2018 projects.

We Are Public Space Cadets
Credit: New Urban Mechanics

Our Work

We explore, experiment, and evaluate civic innovation projects across departments and throughout the city. Below is a sample of how some of our work breaks down. 

Civic Research

A look at how we approach our research. 


Making Boston's streets safer, more efficient, and more delightful for all. 


The Housing Innovation Lab serves the needs of Boston’s current and future residents. The lab pioneers innovative housing models and systems, and pushes the pace of innovation in the housing sector.


Engaging people in civic action spans all our projects, but here's a look at some of our approaches. 


We're working to improve the educational experience for all Boston residents.

Third Spaces

Helping communities make welcoming, connective, and creative places around the city. 


We believe playfulness is a vital part of thriving democracies, caring communities, and resilient cities.


Snowy City
Nov 29

City of Boston accepting proposals for Play Around the Snowy City competition

New Urban Mechanics
Go Boston 2030
Sep 7

Join us in transforming Boston’s transportation system

Jul 25

Winners of the 2018 Public Space Invitational announced

New Urban Mechanics
Jun 20

City of Boston's autonomous vehicle testing program to expand

New Urban Mechanics news

All Projects

Summer fellowship
Our Summer Fellowship is designed for civic entrepreneurs interested in working in public service.
Yearlong fellowship
We're giving those interested in civic entrepreneurship deep insight into working creatively in City government.
Play around the City
A public design competition for making Boston's spaces more playful for all.
Beta Blocks
We're challenging how Boston thinks about the "smart city" and building an equitable community around civic experimentation.
Playful Boston Initiative
We believe playfulness is a vital part of thriving democracies, caring communities, and resilient cities.
Housing with Public Assets
Could building housing on top of — or next to — City buildings, such as libraries and community centers, benefit our communities?
Community Made
A partnership with civic crowdfunding platform to support the creation of “third spaces” around Boston.
Plugin House Initiative
The Plugin House demonstrates the possibilities of backyard homes and smaller living to provide housing affordable to all.
Autonomous Vehicles: Boston's Approach
Our plans for testing autonomous vehicles and their potential future in the City of Boston.
Boston Saves
The children’s savings account program makes saving for college and career training available to all Boston Public Schools kindergarten (K2)
Bank On Boston
Bank On Boston connects Boston residents with reliable financial products and services that can help them save, grow, and access their money
Civic Research Agenda
A look into how we work with communities to build a civic knowledge base.
Participatory Pokémon Go
A city-wide, youth-led challenge to create new PokéStops around Boston for the popular app, Pokémon Go.
Lunch on the Lawn
Lunch on the Lawn was the first-ever youth summer meals site on City Hall Plaza.
Urban Housing Unit Roadshow
Through our interactive exhibit, we heard from the community about what they think about smaller living.
Boston's Safest Driver
A mobile app that measures safe driving performance and turns it into a game.
Boston Civic Media Consortium
Advancing civic media research, teaching, and practice in Boston.
Smart Streets
Using technology — like cameras and sensors — to learn more about how people navigate and interact on and with the City’s streets.
BOS:311 App
One of the first municipal reporting apps in the world.
Performance Parking Pilot
Circle less and park easier in Boston's busiest neighborhoods.
City Worker App
The City Worker App is a Public Works companion to BOS:311.
Housing Innovation Competition
An opportunity to identify creative design solutions to produce more middle-income and elderly affordable housing in Boston.
A tap card system prototype for Boston Public Schools buses.
Street Bump
A mobile app that gathers data about Boston’s streets using a smartphone’s built-in sensors.
City Hall to Go Truck
Inspired by food trucks, our bright and friendly mobile City Hall truck is about serving City residents where they live, work, and play.
Smart Parking
Providing drivers with real-time parking information.
Design Action Research with Government
Design Action Research with Government (DARG) is a guide for creating civic innovation projects.
A virtual reality game for engaging residents in community planning.
Vehicle Side Guards
Protecting cyclists with vehicle sideguards.
LED Street Signs
To make streets safer for pedestrians at night, we experimented with the use of street name signs lit by LED lights.
Streetscape Innovation Fund
Through this $1 million fund, we experimented with new ways of designing and equipping City streets.
Density Bonus Pilot
The program gives developers incentives in exchange for more affordable units.
Additional Dwelling Unit
We want to streamline the process for homeowners looking to create a rental unit.
Participatory Chinatown
We built a character-driven virtual world that allowed residents to explore Chinatown for a master planning process.
The tool allows residents to partner with Boston Fire to make sure a specific fire hydrant is cleared of snow.
Block Quotes
A public art initiative designed to inspire communities through inspirational quotations.
Discover BPS
A web app that helps parents find which available schools might be the best fit for their child.
Community PlanIt
An online game for more engaging community planning.
Where’s my School Bus?
An app that allows parents to track the arrival and departure of their child’s bus.
Neighborhood Slow Streets
A new approach to traffic calming requests in Boston.
A solar-powered seat that can charge smartphones and collect data on the environment.
Twitter Tree / Menorah
Our interactive tree and Menorah change color when people tweet a color using the hashtag #WickedCoolTree.
Pulse of the City
A playful project at the intersection of public art and public health.
Parklets are sidewalk extensions which occupy parking spaces, creating community spaces to hang out on, much like front porches or stoops.
Boston Area Research Initiative
The Boston Area Research Initiative connects university professors and students with community groups and city officials.
Project Oscar
Project Oscar is Boston’s 24-hour community compost pilot program.
2017 Year in Review
A brief highlight of some of our work from 2017