Art House Rules | City of Ideas

Posted 08/09/2016 by James Burnett & Allyson Esposito

It was one of those announcements that almost felt too good to be true, except that it had already been proven "true," as Futurecity has demonstrated success in the UK and Europe for years  now.

So what is Futurecity and what does it do? It's a place-making agency run by Mark Davy from the agency's headquarters in the UK. And Davy? Well, he's a unique creative mind who sees artistic potential in spaces and buildings and who sees functional potential in art. It isn't a stretch to call Davy an adventurous visionary who brings a new way of incorporating art and design into development from the start, when projects are just seedlings of ideas. 

 For example, Davy once wondered aloud to an interviewer if a plot of public land that had been designated for the planting of hundreds of trees should just have a wave of trees spread across the land, or if those trees could be planted to grow in a creative, artistic pattern.

Does a new building have to just be walls and a ceiling, or could the "parts" be works of art themselves with multiple functions?

These are the types of questions you get when Futurecity sets its sights on your town, or in our case, Boston (the Fenway Cultural District), Worcester (the Salisbury Cultural District), and Springfield (the Central Cultural District).

"Futurecity has been immersed in cultural placemaking projects in different cities for over a decade," Davy said, while in Boston for Mayor Walsh's announcement. "We've brokered new partnerships between developers, artists, architects, policy makers and communities, working with imaginative people across sectors who realize the huge returns of investing in cultural capital."

Davy will return to Boston in August and again in October to meet with key partners to move some of this work forward. Among other things, he is envisioning an Avenue of the Arts that has exciting signage and wayfinding that help to identify it as an arts-themed thoroughfare, wrapping MBTA trains in art work, dressing the Emerald Necklace and the Fenway district with art as the "back door" to Huntington, thinking about Copley Square as the front door and how to connect it all. Davy also plans to work with new developers adjacent to or along the planned Arts Avenue to include eateries, bars, and all-purpose "hangout" spots, the aim being to turn the corridor into a destination.

It should go without saying that successful places, offering varied, lucid, pleasurable, surprising experiences, depend on a commitment to culture, to remain ahead of the pack. FuturecityMass will secure Massachusetts' global position as a cultural leader: we are coming together to explore ways in which it can embody 'The State of Culture.'


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