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2014 Public Space Invitational

We launched the Public Space Invitational in January 2014.

The civic design competition aims to make Boston’s civic spaces and infrastructure:

  • intuitive
  • beautiful, and
  • delightful.

We accomplish this through deep collaboration between City Hall and artists, designers, and residents. You can learn more about the 2014 competition — and the related projects — below.

Still have questions? Contact:
New Urban Mechanics
1 City Hall Square
5th Floor
Boston, MA 02201
Public Space Invitational

Our open call for temporary and delightful interventions in the public realm.

Invitational information


In 2014, we asked a simple question: how can our streets, plazas, sidewalks, street furniture, and public buildings better serve people? We asked for ideas in the following categories:

The Streetscape:

The streetscape includes sidewalks, streets, medians, plazas, and our other civic front porches. What improvements would you make to the space? What is the next iteration of our classic street furniture?

Boston City Hall:

Rethinking the indoor and outdoor space, signage, improving service deliver,  and the user experience. These designs may help inform future improvements to the building.

Random Awesome Designs:

Great ideas that defy classification or location.

Portable Reading Room

Portable Reading Room for Boston gives residents an uplifting reason to gather in public space. A great collection of books and comfortable seating brings people out and brings out the best in people. Creating a library setting at street level can humanize the urban landscape and make the City feel more intimate.

In the summer of 2014, the “room” made its Boston debut on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The reading room could be used during all seasons, while serving multiple neighborhoods. Partners in the project included:

  • the Boston Public Library
  • Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Proposed by: Leslie Davol, Sam Davol, Eric Howeler, Meejin Yoon
Location: Rose Kennedy Greenway

Seat Light Control

Seat Light Control transforms an urban street artifact, the street light control box, into urban seating.

These boxes, which are often located on City sidewalks and pedestrian walkways, have a negative aesthetic. This project re-imagines the control box as a City bench.

This project put Boston at the forefront of an effort to improve the experience of urban sidewalk users and streetscape aesthetics. We were able to replace the mundane and unattractive with beautiful and distinctive street furniture that had a purpose.

Proposed by: Peter Agoos
Location: Washington St. + Milk St. in Downtown Boston (next to the Old South Meeting House)

Stairs of Fabulousness

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Simple. Colorful. “Rainbow stairs will make City Hall 400% more fabulous,” according to the artist.

This is a small intervention to the space, experimenting with color with the bricks and concrete as the canvas. Using non-skid skateboard tape, the stairs in the lobby area were transformed by color. 

Proposed by: Liz LaManche
Location: Boston City Hall



LightWell creates a new form of sustainable infrastructure. It performs as public art by enlivening public space with engaging forms and light.

Powered by solar LED lights, this structure illuminates at night. It takes the energy and life of the day to transform the urban landscape at night with glowing forms.

LightWell inspires many interpretations:

  • an object of art
  • a seat
  • a planter
  • a light fixture, and
  • a vegetated drywell for storm-water infiltration.

Proposed by: Michelle Laboy, Joshua Fiedler, and Seth Wiseman
Location: South End Library Park

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