Garages Go Green


I recently came across Arquitectonica’s Bentley Bay garage green screen installation while on the hunt for precedent images for our own Medford Garage Feasibility Study. I was amazed to see in the photos I encountered a design strikingly similar to one we’re envisioning for a future municipal garage in Medford Square.  Both our proposed façade system and the Bentley Bay precedent layer stainless mesh netting behind a larger-scaled composition of canted tree trunk-esque elements. While climbing vegetation typically takes several years to populate the netting, the varied pattern created by the vertical elements lends immediate visual interest to its facades while they patiently wait for vegetation to grow its way onto the mesh and up the structure…




If by Sea?


Yesterday I completed a long-anticipated, oft-romanticized urban journey, taking the F4 inner harbor commuter ferry from Long Wharf to Charlestown’s Navy Yard at the end of the business day. Ferry ticket: $1.70.  Beer on board: $6. Views of Boston on a picture-perfect summer evening: priceless.  


Despite being an ideal seasonal commuting option for Charlestown residents, it seems the MBTA could use a few pointers marketing this 10-minute boat ride to both residents and the many tourists who dutifully follow the red-bricked Freedom trail line. Arriving hot and thirsty at the end of the Trail – the USS Constitution – what better way to return to downtown then by boat? The boat makes a sweeping arc along the edge of the North End before slotting in next to the Aquarium, offering up a wide-angle perspective of the city as a final antidote to the crooked lines of Boston’s historic streets.  I edited the Freedom Trail Map to better advertise this return option by sea.


– Corey



Cantilevered Lap Pools

Who knew it was a type?  The pool structured by steel beams is the Adelphi Hotel in Melbourne and the pool captured within a concrete frame is the roof of an apartment building in Singapore.  I found these while searching for precedent images for one of our design review assignments. Occasionally, a small-scale spectacle is warranted!




I rarely walk on the west side of Congress Street along the edge of the brick plinth of City Hall; so I had never really noticed the unapologetic machismo of the brick corbelling.  Is the massing meant to reference a fortress?  Clearly, castles, forts, and military architecture were an obsession of Kallman McKinnell & Knowles since there is a brick turret abutting the trays of the Government Center Garage exhibiting similar medieval aspirations.  We are proposing a much more modest corbelling detail on one of the options of the Medford public garage.




Utile has been working with BTD for the past couple of months on Boston’s Complete Streets Initiative, a program that champions the design of streets that are “multimodal, green, and smart.” Green and multimodal – not too much confusion there. But “smart”?  Back in 2008, I took a “Smart Mobility” course at MIT’s Media Lab with Bill Mitchell, who sadly passed away this past week.  As the name suggests, the course was focused on the integration of so-called “smart” elements into streetscape design and transportation infrastructure: RFID tags, intelligent signals, dynamic congestion pricing, etc. These are the type of smart elements I had come to expect.

It was therefore intriguing to read about something called “virtual street corners” – a Knight Foundation-funded community art project here in Boston meant to link neighborhoods through technology.” The idea is simple: there are two portals that stream live video and audio between two carefully-chosen neighborhoods – one at Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner in Brookline, and the other at Nubion Notion in Dudley Square in Roxbury. “For three weeks, the two TV portals and microphones will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Any passerby is invited to stop and chat — about anything — with a counterpart across town.”           

So I decided to do just that, stopping by Brookline Booksmith last Sunday evening as a prelude to the Celtics game.  There I met and spoke with Gene from Roxbury, an elderly gentleman who was also getting an early dinner before settling in to watch the game later that night (I know this because he told me so). I could not have scripted a better conversation. Admittedly skeptical of what seemed to be a pretty gimmicky concept, I became a convert when Gene told me – and I quote –  “that this is a mighty fine idea and there should be more of these all over the place. It’s been so nice talking with you.” You, too, Gene.

And I’m inclined to think Bill Mitchell would approve.



Bye Ryan


At 6:12 PM today, Ryan Sullivan walked out of Utile HQ for the last time (as a Utile Boston employee); he and his family are headed to Portland, Oregon. During his 3 ½ years with the firm, Ryan pushed our approach to visualization and information design to a whole new level.  Both Utile and Ryan benefited tremendously from our amazing time together.