Doors Open RI Festival
The inaugural Doors Open RI Festival launched on Saturday, September 23rd in Providence. For one magical day we shared the keys of the city with its people. The free citywide open house welcomed over 4,000 visitors behind-the-scenes of 24 places of architectural, cultural and historical significance.
Curious visitors climbed into the attic of City Hall, peered into famous hidden vaults, sat at the Mayor’s desk, examined specimens and saw an industrial loom in action. They experienced the inner workings of our public radio station, ventured inside the brightly colored Box Office and inside the drill hall of the vacant Cranston St. Armory. Each location was activated with special programming and interpretation made available to visitors without tickets or reservations.
The Festival is the signature event of Doors Open RI, a new program that connects people to local places of cultural, historical and architectural significance in an effort to bridge communities and inspire new perspectives on our cities. In partnership with cultural and community organizations across the state, we organize behind-the-scenes access to Rhode Island’s best-kept secrets through innovative programs and tours planned throughout the year.
Doors Open Rhode Island was launched through a 2016 Embark Fellowship I received from the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. I am the Founder and Director of Doors Open RI, and organize our programs with the help of three interns, an advisory board and countless amazing volunteers.
Funeral for the Fogarty Building
On Friday March 17, we gathered around the open casket of the recently passed Fogarty Building in downtown Providence to say goodbye. Only 49 years old, the Fogarty was our most significant brutalist building in downtown Providence. Built as the home for RI’s department of Health and Human Services, soon it will be replaced by a hotel.
The building had some friends and many foes, we heard from both in eulogies delivered by several people who knew the building best. After the funeral we processed around the building with our kazoos to a nearby watering hole to reflect on the life of our friend and changes in our city.
I conceived of this this program which was then organized in partnership with Doors Open RI, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and the Providence Preservation Society. The Funeral for the Fogarty Building was conceived of, planned and executed in less than one week. It was inspired by Temple Contemporary’s Funeral for a Home in Philadelphia.
Read our obituary for the Fogarty Building which was published in the Providence Journal. Curious about planning a funeral for a building in your community? Check out the Toolkit on planning funerals for buildings that the National Trust for Historic Preservation put together from lessons learned through our Fogarty building funeral here in Providence.
Seattle Architecture Foundation: Neighborhood Program Development
Responding to a board identified need and excitement for new Seattle Architecture Foundation (SAF) neighborhood-based programming, I led a summer-long process of open and honest dialogue with community leaders and design professionals on how SAF could most benefit Seattle neighborhoods. On behalf of SAF, I met with a total of 26 individuals representing 23 organizations across six Seattle neighborhoods to advise the design of a new program series and writing of a detailed report of future programmatic recommendations for SAF.
Seattle Architecture Foundation: Ask an Architect
On behalf of the Seattle Architecture Foundation, I organized an “Ask an Architect” program as part of a Seattle Public Library pop-up event themed around the topic of “Seattle 2035”. Under the backdrop of Rem Koolhaas’s world-famous downtown library, architects from Callison’s office perused the crowds armed with sketchbooks, answering the public’s questions about architecture. People decorated the building with their drawings of Seattle’s future as they jived to live music provided by Love City Love. A good time was had by all.
Providence Preservation Society: Endangered Places, Emerging Stories (MEP20)
Over the course of 10 weeks I explored 20 buildings featured on the Providence Preservation Society’s (PPS) Most Endangered Properties (MEP) list in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the MEP program. In an effort to create dialogue and build community around preservation in the city, I blogged and tweeted my way through Providence.
Providence Preservation Society: Spring Public Programs
In celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Providence Preservation Society’s (PPS) Endangered Properties Program (MEP), I organized a spring program series featuring several of the buildings on the MEP list. The programs ranged from a tour of micro-living in downtown Providence to a panel discussion about a church’s plans to transform into the country’s first museum dedicated to the transatlantic slave trade. It’s unsurprising that everyone’s favorite program featured both beer and time travel. Equipped with a stereopticon, 100 pairs of 3D glasses and a silver screen, historian Ned Conners led a boisterous 3D exploration into 19th century Providence at a local bar.
Chicago Architecture Foundation: Open House Chicago
Winter 2011 to Spring 2014
I helped launch and eventually managed the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s highest profile program, Open House Chicago (OHC). OHC is a free public event that offers behind-the-scenes access to over 150 great spaces and places across Chicago. The largest architecture event in the city, 55,000 visitors attended in 2013 (our third year). Since I left my position to attend grad school, the event has grown into the largest citywide open house festival in the world with over 100,000 visitors across 200 sites in 2016.