Building community around a deep appreciation of shared history creates the momentum for a strong future, a belief that lies at the heart of PPS’ new partnership with the National Trust. Creating a link between history and the physical environment is also one of the main goals of Common Boston, a free, city-wide festival held annually to celebrate the role of design, architecture and neighborhoods in strengthening community bonds and connecting Boston’s diverse populations.

The Sidewalk Sam chalk event at Common Boston

The Sidewalk Sam chalk event at Common Boston. Photo credit: photos.juliechen, Flickr

The mission of the annual Common Boston week is to “expand public awareness of the Boston area’s built environment through interactive programs, encourage collaboration between design professionals and those for whom they design, and promote good citizenship and action toward a better built environment”-  laudable goals for a city-wide Placemaking effort.

One of America’s oldest cities, Boston’s neighborhoods have been shaped (and in some cases, divided) by centuries of development. Yet Boston’s physical environment has also been formed by inspired efforts to connect the diversity of its residents, a topic which was the focus of this year’s public forum.  The forum addressed ways that physical barriers can become points of connection, ultimately considering how to turn corridors and boundaries into places at which people can share their neighborhood and city.

An interactive piece from Common Build, a design/build competition part of the larger event. Photo credit: fullercrane, Flickr

The forum was just one of 40 events open to the public at this year’s festival, which included a Chinatown tour on how landscape architecture has created successful public spaces, an architect-led exploration on the intersection of security and public space at Boston’s Logan Airport, youth-led neighborhood showcases, a water-taxi tour of placemaking and development on the waterfront,  garden walks, and much more. Learn more about the event at

Discovering Common Ground through History and the Built Environment was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by Megan MacIver