XChange Architects examining the past, present and future of Airport Autonomy at the 2018 Future of Transportation World Conference

XChange’s Derrick Choi is returning to Germany this summer to participate in the 2nd Annual Future of Transportation World Conference in Cologne.  Derrick will be discussing the impact of disruptive urban mobility on airport systems and the cities they serve.  His Day 1 topic – “Terminal Autonomy: Future-Proofing Airports for Turbulent Technological, Regulatory and Market Skies Ahead” – will be presented in the Urban Mobility and Smart Cities conference stream on Tuesday afternoon, 19 June 2018 at the Köln Messe.


Derrick is also reprising his moderator role at the conference’s Urban Mobility and Smart Cities conference stream; leading a round table discussion on Day 1 that revisits some of the livelier debates from last year’s inaugural conference.  The topics include debating the biggest mobility challenges facing cities of the future. The discussions will focus on whether and how can cities effectively collaborate with mobility providers in realizing more seamless, practical and economically-viable transportation systems that yield mutually beneficial outcomes.

URBAN CONSTELLATIONS: re-assessing the Airport and its Metro-Region

CHOI - Aerial Futures NYC

Image copyright XChange Architects

XChange’s Derrick Choi participated as a respondent at the URBAN CONSTELLATIONS Think Tank hosted by Aerial Futures from 05-06 April, 2018 at NewLab in the revitalized Brooklyn Navy Yard.

In response to one of the key discussion questions posed at the conference –  Multiple-airport cities present new challenges for passengers and urban dwellers…The fragmentation of airports in a single city, frequently owned and operated by different governing bodies, can lead to unpredictable and even confusing experiences.  How should we rethink the multiple-airport city more holistically?  –  Derrick shared some of XChange Architects’ ongoing research on the potential of airport systems in congested, large metro-regions to reappropriate extant infrastructure and civic spaces as virtual extensions of the airport network – effectively providing airports a set of operational “tentacles” in city centers to literally connect with passengers miles and hours before they set foot in the terminal building. As many airport functions are increasingly virtual and optimized – resulting in dramatic reductions in conventional space needs – imagine airports processing passenger checked baggage in urban centers and other alternative, off-airport locales, as illustrated in the renderings above that reimagine iconic urban spaces and infrastructure being repurposed as airport check-in facilities.  While this is a commonly accepted global practice, here in the United States, there remains considerable operational, jurisdictional, regulatory and cost-sharing complexities that can render some of the most simple ideas unachievable from the moment that are conceived. Surely, we can do better in our major U.S. urban centers.

AERIAL FUTURES Urban Constellations_2

Think Tank proceedings at NewLab.  Image courtesy Aerial Futures

The day-long Think Tank sessions, highlighted by thought-provoking “impulse talks” by Mitchell Joachim of Terraform One and Campbell Hyers of Intersection remind us that the enhancement of the Airport’s relationship to its complex urban ecology can no longer be reliant on the physical solution alone; rather it must recognize that the passenger journey – and by extension, the “airport experience” – has been radically expanded from one’s door way to the jetway. Accordingly, a completely new set of expectations, standards and systems are emerging – leveraging atypical solutions, different perspectives and “out-of-the-industry” thinking to help deliver tomorrow’s airport systems.

Here comes the Sun: Solar Arbor tour continues to Newton Centre!

"Solar Arbor" Concept, prepared by XChange Architects LLC for the 2014 Brookline Climate Week

“Solar Arbor” Concept, prepared by XChange Architects LLC for the 2014 Brookline Climate Week

As we prepare for the unofficial start to the Summer, we are especially delighted to learn that our photovolatic(PV)-powered trellis concept designed for the 2014 Brookline Climate Week – held in January of this year – has been re-installed for summer duty in nearby Town of Newton.  The “Solar Arbor” is based on ideas generated from a collaboration between Mary Dewart of Climate Change Action Brookline and Susan Israel of the Energy Necklace Project, and installed by solar panel provider RevoluSun.  Directly in response to Landscape Designer Mary Dewart’s inspiration from the practical application of solar technologies in the domestic setting as demonstrated in the recent US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competitions, this simple trellis system seeks to amplify the relative ease of installation and the myriad design possibilities of PV installations in a domestic context.

Images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC.


View of completed installation at the Brookline Health Department on Pierce Street: Brookline Climate Week, January 2014.  Image copyright XChange Architects LLC

Provincetown Airport Terminal Redevelopment selected for 2014 AIA Center for Emerging Professionals Annual Exhibition


Submission board of the proposed replacement passenger terminal building concept at Provincetown Municipal Airport. Image copyright XChange Architects LLC and Hartnessvision LLC

Our design concept “Race Point Flyer,” a proposed redevelopment of the passenger terminal facilities at Provincetown Municipal Airport was recognized in the 2014 AIA Center for Emerging Professionals Annual Exhibition.  The exhibition at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., runs through the end of April.

New Work: Martha’s Vineyard Airport ARFF-SRE Facility

MVY ARFF collage

The JACOBS | XChange Architects Team has been selected by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission Designer Selection Committee to design the new integrated Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting (ARFF) and Snow Removal Equipment (SRE) facility intended to replace the airport’s existing post-war era building.  The design-only phase of the work will include preparing contract documents for the demolition of the existing ARFF/ SRE Building located adjacent to the airport’s General Aviation Building, relocation of an existing airfield lighting vault, and the construction of a new ARFF/SRE building at the same location.

The proposed new ARFF/SRE building is anticipated to provide additional space for offices, training/conference room, staff day room, sleeping and bathroom/shower facilities, kitchen, laundry room, extinguishing agent storage facility, vehicle maintenance areas, SRE & other airport equipment storage, vehicle washing bays, parking areas and other miscellaneous spaces.

The anticipated 12-month design phase of this project will be overseen by Daedalus Projects Inc., the Owner’s Project Representative for the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission.  Stay tuned for more updates on this project.

MVY ARFF on truck

All images, drawings and photographs courtesy Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission and the JACOBS | XChange Architects Team.

New Work: Barnstable Municipal Airport

Birdseye view rendering - illustrating new passenger terminal and parking facilities

Birdseye view rendering – new passenger terminal and parking facilities

XChange Architects, as a subconsultant to JACOBS, has been retained to provide A/E design assistance to Barnstable Municipal Airport for the maintenance and repair of the Airport’s passenger terminal facilities –  completed by Suffolk Construction in 2011 – the capstone of a $40 million airport improvement program.  The task order work will include baggage make-up area improvements, airside weather protection and fenestration improvements, and building life cycle management monitoring.  The work is eligible for funding under the MassDOT Airport Safety and Maintenance Program.

View of main terminal entrance & landside curb.  Image courtesy Barnstable Municipal Airport.

View of main terminal entrance & landside curb. Image courtesy Barnstable Municipal Airport.

Barnstable Municipal Airport, located in Hyannis, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, provides commercial and general aviation services to Boston and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  The Airport also serves as the corporate headquarters for regional airline, Cape Air.  It is owned by the Town of Barnstable and managed by the Barnstable Municipal Airport Commission and its staff.  Today, the airport consists of a new 35,000 sq. ft. passenger terminal, a new 85 ft. air traffic control tower, a new aircraft ramp and a new vehicle access road—all opened at the end of 2011— extensive parking facilities, a rescue and maintenance building and an aircraft fuel farm. More than 40 private tenants lease hangar space on parts of the airport property.

All photos, images and drawings copyright Barnstable Municipal Airport and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

New Work: Kumon Center of Needham

119 Chapel persp view - classroom

Interior perspective – proposed main classroom, Kumon of Needham.

XChange Architects is designing the new home of the Kumon Learning Center of Needham | MA.  After a lengthy site selection process, conducted with the assistance of Cullinane Real Estate Services LLC, a prime storefront location on Chapel Street was identified in the heart of Downtown Needham, directly across from Town Hall.  The proposed change of use was unanimously approved by the Town of Needham Planning Board on November 19, 2013.

Providing unique, individualized instruction for math and reading skills for K-12 students, Kumon is helping millions of children in 47 countries and regions on six continents.  Construction for the new Kumon of Needham is scheduled to be completed in early 2014; coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Kumon method.    

Kumon Logo - White1_full

All photos, logos, images and drawings copyright Kumon and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

New Fall Publications


BTW – September 2013 Issue

We’re delighted to be spreading the news that our Town of Brookline Economic Development Advisory Board colleague and long-time sustainability entrepreneur/innovator, Harold Simansky, continues to delve into new territories – this time into the world of publishing, where he has just unveiled the inaugural issue of BTW – BEHIND the WALLS.  The motivation behind BTW, according to Harold, is to make green design accessible to the everyday audience:

“For me, BTW is all about accessibility for the average homeowner, making sure that they understand that going green does not have to break the bank. In fact, it is often the most cost effective solution.” 

For more on BTW, please visit Harold Simansky’s website and blog – 360 Chestnut.

AHPP 15th

Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th Edition.

In the hardbound category, Wiley has recently announced the November 2013 release of the AIA’s 15th Edition of the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice (AHPP).  XChange Architects’ Derrick Choi AIA, had the privilege of collaborating on the redevelopment of the Handbook by serving as a member of the AIA’s steering committee for the 15th Edition.  The Handbook was first published in 1920 with the intent of articulating “how the architect must combine the skills of a professional, a businessman, and an artist.”  The upcoming edition – the first since the 14th edition in 2008 – will reflect a groundswell of change in our industry since the Great Recession.  To learn more about the 15th edition, please check out the AIA interview with the Executive Editor of the AHPP and small firm business planning expert, Prof. Rena M. Klein, FAIA.

Derrick Choi had the opportunity to reflect on the 2008 founding of XChange Architects while co-writing with Rena Klein a section in the Organizational Development Chapter of the AHPP on starting a firm, entitled:  “Entrepreneurial Practice: Starting an Architecture Firm.”

All images courtesy of publishers, Harold Simansky and Wiley.

New Work – Northern Trust Boston Offices


One International Place (right), Boston. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

XChange Architects is serving as Architect-of-Record on the expansion of the Northern Trust office interiors located in One International Place, in the Financial District of Downtown Boston.  We are collaborating on construction documents and permitting coordination with the design architect, Bryne Design LLC of Chicago | IL.  The local project team includes RDK Engineers (M|E|P) and Columbia Construction Company (General Contractor). Construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall.


New Work – Martha’s Vineyard Airport


We have been selected – as part of the JACOBS Team – by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission to assist the Airport in executing aviation planning, design and construction phase services under the Airport’s Capital Improvement Plan for the fiscal years 2014 – 2017.

martha-s-vineyard-airport-code-mvy-men-s-t-shirt-black-solid-design_designMartha’s Vineyard Airport (MVY) is operated by the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission. The Airport provides air carrier and general aviation services to the island and is a vital link for island businesses. It is located on 675+ acres and is comprised of one FBO and more than 70 tenants who operate private businesses on leased airport property.  There are two active runways that serve Martha’s Vineyard Airport – Runway 6-24 and Runway 15-33.  The airport provides or is host to a variety of services: including airport management, aircraft parking, commercial service passenger terminal services, aircraft rental, flight training, aircraft charters, and aviation fueling.

Stay tuned for our developments with the JACOBS Team at MVY.

Bastille Day – Boston Style

Bastille-Day_2013Joyeux Le Quatorze Juillet!

For those who may have missed it, our friends and client at the French Cultural Center of Boston (aka: Alliance Francaise) celebrated French Independence in style (once again) this past Friday with their neighborhood-rocking 5-hour block party on Marlborough Street, in the heart of the Back Bay of Boston.  There’s nothing that rocks the Boston Brahmin neighborhood quite like the annual FCC-sponsored Bastille Day soiree featuring some of the best emerging talent in global Francophile music.

In 2010, we – in association with Hartnessvision of Cambridge | MA – prepared for the French Cultural Center (FCC) Executive staff and Board a feasibility study for the redevelopment of the FCC library into a state-of-the-art meeting and learning facility that helps further propel the FCC’s reputation as one of the leading French “e-libraries” outside of France.  Our design proposal, “L’Espace Portail” or “Gateway Space,” reconceives the library as a virtual information and social gateway to connect the FCC members in Boston with other global communities within the Alliance Francaise network and beyond.


Perspective – interior of proposed Young Adults room, French Cultural Center of Boston Library. Image courtesy Hartnessvision.


Partial elevation – external elevator concept study, French Cultural Center of Boston Library.

Key challenges for this design study included addressing Massachusetts Architectural Access Board (MAAB, 521 CMR) requirements to provide universal access to the public and educational facilities to literally broaden the FCC’s access to the Greater Boston Community, and vice-versa.  The transformation of the extant library facilities into a new and globally interconnected facility – both virtually and physically – is an important step for the FCC as it plans for its next century in its Charles Brigham-designed 1860s building.


Design Team:   Hartnessvision, XChange Architects

Cost Estimating:  Rider Levett Bucknall

Constructibility: Sleeping Dog Properties

All photos, images and drawings copyright Hartnessvision, French Cultural Center of Boston and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Celebrating our first 5 years!

XCA Frontispiece

On this first of July, special thanks go out to our friends, family, collaborators and clients who have collectively made possible these first five years.

Our Clients:

@ Union Restaurant, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, Allston Village Main Streets, Big City / Patron’s Watering Hole, Town of Brookline, Brookline Winter’s Farmers Market, City of New York (Department of Buildings), Coolidge Corner Theater Foundation, Childrens Playhouse, Cupcake Battery, Town of Dedham, Diane von Furstenberg, French Cultural Center of Boston, NEXUS | The Green Roundtable (now the SPI), Kollel of Greater Boston, Kumon Learning Centers of Brookline & Needham, Leeder Management Company, Little Children Schoolhouse, Michael’s Deli, MIXX Frozen Yogurt Fenway, MJ Ready, Myung Dong First Avenue, Provincetown Municipal Airport, REIC, Refuge Cafe, UBurger, WiCH!T Sandwich and Yoki Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar.

Our Collaborators:

BLW Engineers, Blair Hines Design Associates, CRES LLC, David King Architects, Deerns Consulting Engineers, Evergreen Group, Ex Nihilo Studio, Hartnessvision, JACOBS, James Carr Architecture + Design,  L/R Construction, KDTurner Design, Klopfer Martin Design Group, Krefetz Law Firm, Lewis Lighting Design, Ricondo & Associates, Rider Levett Bucknall, R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, RJ Davisson + Associates, RM Klein Consulting, Roberto Farren Photography, Robert Wear R.A., Rolf Jensen Associates, RRC Engineering, Sam Zax Associates, Sleeping Dog Properties, Weidlinger Associates and VAV International.

Our Alumni and Past Interns:

Amanda Baker, Jonace Bascon, Wen-Feng Feng, David Giancarli, Lynn Hsu, and Nicole Marple.


Reprogramming the City

Tripod Mod - overview

“Tripod MOD(ule)” – Perspective view of the sidewalk shed system designed by XChange Architects; a finalist entry in the 2009 Urban Shed International Design Competition in New York City.

Scott Burnham’s exhibition – Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure – showcasing over 20 provocative examples of imaginative re-use and re-purposing of urban infrastructure, opened last week at the BSA | Space – the Boston Society of Architect’s (BSA) new home at Atlantic Wharf.  The exhibition, which promises to “reveal the city as a creative platform for new approaches to urban design,” will be showing at the BSA | Space until the end of September this year.

As architects and urbanists engaged in the design challenges of the public realm, we are excited to see exhibitions and discussions such as the ones being facilitated at the BSA by Mr. Burnham and hope this generates more hearty discourse on the opportunities for revitalization, rehabilitation and re-imagination of the extant infrastructural systems in our global cities.

Over the years, our studio has explored similar themes of re-engaging extant infrastructure within our urban condition to identify unique ways to experience and re-think these systems.  From the everyday New York sidewalk construction scaffolding shed to a sidewalk planter box to an airport security fence, we believe that much of our pre-existing urban infrastructural conditions can be reconceived in profoundly impactful ways that can enhance sustainable practices, improve operations, and positively contribute to the pedestrian experience and design of our streetscapes.


PopUp Cafe – Perspective view of the retractable sidewalk cafe and planter system designed by XChange Architects in 2009.  The prototype was awarded a 2009 BSA Design Excellence Award for Unbuilt Architecture and a 2010 Washington DC AIA Chapter Unbuilt Award.


“Project Runway” – a regenerative airfield concept designed by XChange Architects.  The project is a jury selection in the WPA 2.0 Competition online gallery exhibition sponsored by UCLA’s UrbanLab.

All photos, drawings and images copyright XChange Architects LLC.

School’s Out – Construction’s In

DHS interior - FINAL

Perspective view – proposed interior, main Dedham High School entrance

DHS ext - exstg

Image – existing conditions: DHS main entrance. Image courtesy James Carr AIA

As the Massachusetts public school year is coming to an end, we are grateful for an exciting school year collaborating on design concepts for potential renovations at Dedham High School in Dedham | MA as a subconsultant to James Carr Architecture + Design in Cambridge, MA.  The existing high school building, built over 55 years ago,  may substantially benefit from modest upgrades that will improve way-finding, lighting, visibility, as well as access to multi-media information technology.  Using new trophy display glass partitions with integrated bench seating, the redesign seeks to transform the quotidien entrance into a unique gathering opportunity for the school community.

We are delighted to have had this opportunity to work on our first high school project (which is also our first collaborative effort with James Carr Architecture + Design) and are hopeful that the initial design charette concepts and planning recommendations will be reviewed favorably by the School Committee.

DHS exterior - FINAL

Perspective view – proposed Dedham High School exterior redevelopment concept

All photos, drawings and images copyright James Carr Architecture + Design and XChange Architects LLC.

Rethinking the Airport Passenger Experience – The BaltiCloud Terminal

BaltiCloud-concourse view

Perspective view of arrivals concourse level with “cloud” EFTE roof structure above – Riga Terminal design concept for AirBaltic Airlines.  Rendering courtesy of Hartnessvision, in collaboration with XChange Architects

As we kick off the busy summer travel season, we were interested to read Vanity Fair architecture contributor and former New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger’s observations of the modern passenger experience in today’s airports.  In a CNN article, entitled “Airports where the architecture soars, ” he laments that there really is no “there” in many of today’s passenger terminals; these proverbial 21st Century global gateways that (in many cases) now fill the role formerly held by the grand urban rail stations in welcoming arriving visitors.

Mr. Goldberger noted:

Where they exist at airports, the more impressive spaces are usually located in the airports’ departure halls. Those passengers are rushing to clear security and catch flights and don’t have time to appreciate their space. The arrivals hall usually doesn’t inspire much.

For baggage access reasons and the sad reality that most arriving passengers are generally motivated to get as far away from the airport as possible, it is not all that unusual to find arrivals halls – with baggage claim devices and customs screening facilities – located on the very bottom and being fairly uninspiring spaces to greet travelers into a city.  Many new airport passenger terminals are reconsidering this paradigm, both at airports with a large proportion of travelers ending their journey at the airport as well as those with a significant population of passengers connecting to other flights where the arriving “gateway” experience and the immigration / customs clearance process really matters and may affect passenger decisions when selecting air travel alternatives.

BaltiCloud - downtown aerial

Airside aerial of the proposed “BaltiCloud” Terminal, evening view with downtown Riga in the background.

BaltiCloud-cloud study screen shot

Preliminary geometric studies of the EFTE “cloud” roof in 3D Studio MAX.  Screenshots courtesy of Hartnessvision LLC.

In a joint effort to develop a new terminal design concept in collaboration with Hartnessvision LLC, for a new passenger terminal in Riga, Latvia, for their primary air carrier, AirBaltic, we chose to literally invert the sectional arrangement of the arrivals and departures flows as well as the way we conceive the roof of the passenger terminal building.  We were intrigued by the possibilities of an EFTE plastic membrane in offering a virtually roof-less airport experience.  Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, or EFTE, is a highly durable and tensile plastic membrane with a high range of temperature and climatic tolerance.  Made famous in the 2008 Water Cube pavillion in the Beijing Olympics, we believe very strongly in the possibilities of integrating this dynamic enclosure material to “dematerialize” the roof.

Our terminal design concept, which we refer to as the “BaltiCloud” –  a play on the Air Baltic identity and the notion of the building as a simple floating cloud – is characterized by 2 simple ideas of re-introducing passengers with the unique sensibilities of air travel:  first, the inversion of the arrivals (above) and departures (below) experience and second, the introduction of a simple, but multi-functional cloud roof serving to both eliminate the all-too-common dreary travel experience while using EFTE air pillows of varying opacity to serve as a way-finding device.

Without compromising functionality, safety, and operational excellence, we like to think that design is the glue that synthesizes all of the core elements that define successful, world-class transportation facilities.  These lines of enquiry provided us a vehicle to debate and rethink the airport passenger building type and most importantly, the potential re-imagination of the passenger air travel experience.

BaltiCloud-exploded axon

Exploded axonometric view of the proposed terminal facilities – Riga International Airport, Latvia

All photographs, images and drawings copyright Hartnessvision LLC and XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Take Back the Streets (Part Deux): UBurger Faneuil Hall


Proposed sidewalk cafe,  UBurger at Faneuil Hall – 16-18 North Street


Existing sidewalk conditions at 16-18 North Street, adjacent to the Millennium Hotel at Faneuil Hall

It’s the first of June and time for our restaurant clients to get their sidewalk cafes up and running.  We’re delighted to have been invited by the Management Team at UBurger at Faneuil Hall to help design their new sidewalk cafe this spring and assist in renewing the establishment’s lease agreement with the City of Boston Public Improvement Commission and Department of Public Works.

New restaurant applicants in the City of Boston shall contact the City’s Public Improvement Commission (PIC) to initiate the application and approvals process for their sidewalk cafe.  For those taking over existing restaurant occupancies: 1) check your Common Victualler (CV) license to verify if you have been approved for outdoor seating, 2) determine if the previous establishment was issued a valid sidewalk cafe permit and agreement, and 3) if you have both, provide evidence of both documents and prepare a letter requesting the renewal of the permit.  Please consult with your licensed design professionals (e.g. engineers, landscape architects, and architects) for assistance in the design and permitting process.  Here’s to a spectacular outdoor dining season in Boston!

PLANTER DESIGN CONCEPT – Taking advantage of remaining interior metal siding material left over from the interior construction, we are re-purposing them into our sidewalk planters to help tie-in the sidewalk cafe into the overall interior architecture.  All DIY legwork, elbowgrease, haggling and heartache courtesy of Co-owner, George Gianarikas.

UBurger - planter concept

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Capacity Enhancement – Michael’s Deli of Coolidge Corner


What you see is what you get at Mike’s – image courtesy Michael’s Deli

For those who may not be familiar with the notorious “dining-in experience” at Mike’s Deli at 256 Harvard Street in Brookline, across the street from the Coolidge Corner T Station (hint – refer to the Yelp reviews of this place prior to May 2012…), this will soon be the stuff of urban legend and Brookline restaurant lore as we are delighted to be assisting the new management – led by hospitality veteran, Steven Peljovich – in updating the restaurant’s seating capacity this month.

We encourage restaurant operators to review occupancy permits prior to renewal to ensure that their businesses have the seating capacity that they are entitled to.  In permitting restaurants in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is a confluence (and sometimes, confusion) of building codes and guidelines that affect the determination of the total allowable seating capacity in the customer dining area – including but not limited to 780 CMR – State Building Code (currently in its 8th Ed, with concurrence with the IBC), 521 CMR – State Accessibility Code (Massachusetts Architectural Access Board) and 248 CMR – Uniform State Plumbing Code.  In some municipalities, additional restaurant seating may also trigger an increase in off-street parking requirements.  When exploring seating changes, consider consulting your local design professional to identify and weigh the implications of your design alternatives.

Congratulations are in order to Steven and his team on their successful inaugural year here in Coolidge Corner.


Proposed Indoor Customer Seating Plan – 256 Harvard Street

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Greenovate Boston launched!

The City of Boston honored its 2013 Greenovate Award Winners yesterday and concurrently launched a new sustainability initiative.  Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s Greenovate Boston program is a comprehensive outreach and communications effort to make sustainability principles accessible to the Boston populace.  As the Mayor succinctly puts it:

“We have to make the sustainability issue understandable to everyone…I call it turning the science talk into sidewalk talk. We have to make this more explainable to the folks out in those neighborhoods.”

The objectives of this program are to:

  • Reach every Boston resident and business through its programming and outreach efforts, in order to have them understand how their individual actions affect a sustainable future for Boston.
  • Engage one-third of Boston residents to take one new, daily climate action per year, examples of which  include driving one day a week less, unplugging the television at night, or using cold water when doing laundry.
  • Engage businesses constituting one-third of Boston’s employees to form their own in-house sustainability teams, or to participate in existing sustainability initiatives.

In 2009, we were invited by the Boston Society of Architects and The Boston Business Journal to participate in a charette to explore the future of the Boston skyline.  At the time, we argued that the future of the Boston skyline may not necessarily be about “what” we add to it, but rather by how we enhance what is already there.  In this exploration – referred to as “Back Bay 2.0” – we explored the  greening and progressive rehabilitation of some of the extent structures in the Back Bay District, consisting of the venerable John Hancock Tower and the Prudential complex towers.  Our proposed additions to these towers envisaged a combination of wind farms, vertical hydroponic  agriculture, as well as new business incubator facilities.


Skyline perspective – “Back Bay 2.0” redevelopment concept

This and other concepts for the re-imagination of the Boston skyline were shared on a NECN broadcast and a special edition of the Boston Business Journal in the fall of 2009.

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

The Biscayne Bird – a Seaplane Terminal for Watson Island



Dawntown Miami announced the results of their 2013 design competition last week for a forward-thinking landmark for the City of Miami.  Since 2008, Dawntown Miami has been hosting annual design competitions that facilitate a healthy dialogue about the City of Miami and its evolving urban condition.  Competition topics range from new ideas for metromover stations to sewer pump stations to a concept for a seaplane terminal.


Site plan and perspectives – Watson Island

We participated in the Dawntown 2010 ideas competition for a new seaplane terminal on Watson Island – located along the Biscayne Bay across from downtown Miami.  Coincidentally, a new tunnel boring connection between the Island and the Port of Miami was completed last week.  Inspired by the unique vantage point of the Island (vis-à-vis the City) and its bio-diversity, our proposal, “The Biscayne Bird,” explores an architectural and urban design solution that both harmonizes with the site’s natural and man-made assets and stands alone as a distinctive public space to see and be seen.



The Bird – a singular massing concept was deployed to optimize the use of the space-constrained site while giving the building its own unique waterfront presence.  The proposal seamlessly integrates public access to the waterfront with the operational requirements of a modern seaplane terminal.  The resultant form at once responds to the Biscayne Bay context while harmonizing with the natural open space that is an integral part of Watson Island. The design’s response to the operational and sustainability objectives raised by the competition resulted in a form evoking the spirit of the seagulls in the immediate area – connecting air, sea and land.


Building section illustrating sustainable design elements in the new seaplane terminal building

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.

Battery Conservancy Chair Design Competition Entry: A Seat for the Seasons


Perspective – “Seat for the Seasons” outdoor seating prototype along the new Battery Green oval


Outdoor Seating Prototype – unfolding sequence

The Battery Conservancy in Lower Manhattan has announced the results of their 2012 Draw Up A Chair Competition.  The competition, launched last fall, seeks to identify a winning permanent outdoor chair design for Battery Park in Lower Manhattan, New York City.  According to the Conservancy website:

The design competition has three phases. The first phase is an open design competition. In the second phase, the jury will select Top Designs and Finalists, which will be featured online and on exhibition banners in the park. The Battery Conservancy will develop full-scale prototypes of the Finalists’ Designs and has been invited by Design Miami/ to exhibit these prototypes. In the third phase, the winner(s) will be awarded a cash prize and their designs will go into fabrication for use in the new Battery Green, a 3-acre oval at the park’s Broadway entrance, scheduled to open in 2014.

This is a great step forward in the post-Hurricane Sandy revival of the Lower Manhattan area.  Hearty congratulations to the Conservancy, the competition finalists and the top 50 designs.


Draw Up a Chair Competition Board – “A Chair for the Seasons,” copyright Derrick Choi AIA & XChange Architects LLC


Process book diagram of first principles – copyright Derrick Choi AIA & XChange Architects LLC

We have posted some of our studio’s ideas and one of the submission boards we prepared to the competition.

Entitled, “A Seat for the Seasons,” our concept for a seating prototype integrates the repurposed wood bench slat stock with a high-density polyethylene seating shell.  The end result is a new flexible outdoor furniture concept that would be comfortable, yet vastly reconfigurable for myriad Battery Green events and resilient enough to operate throughout the year in the Battery.


Perspective – chair prototype in its retracted setting & curvilinear configuration by the East Coast Memorial

All photographs, images and drawings copyright XChange Architects LLC, unless otherwise noted.