Studio Luz Architecture and Urban Design


By Isabella DeLeo

“Free For All: Art in the Public Realm”

Panel discussion organized by Perkins & Will

The practice of architecture and design can be an extraordinary tool for opening up critical dialogue in one’s community, serving as a poignant medium for addressing issues of social justice and equity in profound and innovative ways.

In this illuminating talk from Perkins & Will’s Boston Design Discussion series, called “Free for All: Art in the Public Realm,” team members from local design firms Beyond Walls and our very own Studio Luz Architects, share their teams’ public art projects with viewers in this collaborative and thought-provoking discussion.

From Studio Luz, Co-Founder and Principal Anthony J. Piermarini, Designer Jason Jang and Designer Josh Ssebuwufu, showcase how Studio Luz and the non-profit Building Research, Architecture, Community Exchange, Inc (BR+A+CE) use design principles to address issues of public art accessibility to enrich the Boston community at large — all while maintaining a deep commitment to structural innovation.

According to Anthony, when he and his partner Hansy Better Barraza founded BR+A+CE, after establishing Studio Luz Architects and working as architects for many years, they found themselves wanting to go beyond convention. Anthony says, “We found ourselves really engaged with projects that we felt were kind of on the periphery of what architects typically do.” With a grant from The Awesome Foundation, Anthony and Hansy were ready to “leverage a lot of the knowledge that we’ve gained over the years working as professional architects, but put it to use in the community,” according to Anthony.

In Studio Luz’s presentation during the panel discussion, titled “Intersections of Design, Race, Social Justice, and Equity,” the team showcases BR+A+CE and Studio Luz’s stunning public artworks. One such project is the Dewitt Playground Renovation called The P.L.A.Y. (Play, Learn, Athletic, Youth) Redesign project, a collaboration with Boston-based artist and educator, Marlon Forrester who recently won the Institute of Contemporary Art 2021 Janes and Audrey Foster Prize.

Dewitt Playground “Mirror of History” & Dewitt Playground “Fence of History”

The P.L.A.Y. art installation project has a wide array of educational, athletic and recreational structures, as well as benches that serve as charging stations and are powered by the sun. It incorporates ground-level play structures that are accessible to wheelchair users and also uses art as a means to celebrate Black leaders throughout history and in the community. Josh says, “We had a few elements that we wanted to incorporate in the park. And one of them is the Fence of History, which are real life size silhouettes of past Black leaders.” In addition, the redesign includes a Mirror of History, which Jason has “reflective surfaces that you can see yourself with these leaders or be part of the history itself.”

Other projects include The Big Hammock, which was installed in the greenway and provided an opportunity for community members to engage with the greenway in a novel way; Tilt Down Fence, a Dorchester installation that served as a visual symbol for the contributions of immigrant communities while also communicating a sense of play; the Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand, a bicycle-powered farm stand that delivered fresh food to underserved communities in Mattapan.

Please enjoy the recorded video of this enlightening conversation below.

Video credit belongs to Perkins & Will.

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