Friday, June 1, 2012

UPDATE on the Butaro Doctors' Housing!

MASS is constructing housing for the doctors at Butaro Hospital--and making great progress! The project is designed to attract and retain skilled physicians at the new hospital, as well as create over 100 new jobs and training in sustainable construction for members of the community.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FINAL WEEK of MASS Design Group's Inaugural Exhibition

“Among cultural formations, architecture occupies a prominent position because it bears the potential to express social relations and power structures at certain critical moments in crystallized forms.” 1  - Zeynep Çelik

This past spring, MASS Design Group has launched its inaugural solo exhibition, entitled “Buildings that Heal: Towards an Architecture (of Impact)," at the Boston Architectural College’s McCormick Gallery. MASS Design Group is the current Hideo Sasaki Distinguished Visiting Critic at the BAC and is, in conjunction with the exhibition, conducting a spring studio led by MASS’s Rwanda Program Director, Sierra Bainbridge.

Buildings that Heal” is a cross section of MASS’s work over its first five years of practice and is an attempt to re-orient architecture back to a position of relevance in contemporary global culture. It illustrates the firm’s commitment to balancing top-down strategy with grassroots development through a breadth of work in design, education and policy initiatives worldwide. The exhibition also introduces a new framework of metric evaluation being implemented at MASS which anticipates and tracks each project’s quantifiable impact through design and construction in the categories of Employment, Education and Environment.

While architectural representation has tended towards that of the finite product, MASS used the exhibition to represent its buildings as fragments within larger generative processes of architecture. The exhibition draws inspiration from natural history museums where artifacts must be placed in context, be it environmental or evolutionary, in order to be relevant for biological or anthropological study. “Buildings that Heal” is a composition of an evolutionary chain of architecture – an ecosystem that MASS has begun to develop in its early years and which continues to instruct its work to date.

“Buildings that Heal” opened on Tuesday, April 10th and will run until May 6th. Entry is free.
320 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

Mon-Thurs: 8:00AM-10:30PM / Fri: 8:00AM-9:00PM / Sat: 9:00AM-5:00PM / Sun: Noon-7:00PM

1 Zeynep Çelik, “Cultural Intersections: Re-visioning Architecture and the City in the Twentieth Century,” in Russell Ferguson, ed., At the End of the Century: One Hundred Years of Architecture (Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles & Harry N. Abrams, 1998), 195.

Monday, April 16, 2012

MASS's New Book!

Empowering Architecture, MASS Design Group's first publication, is a case study on the recently completed Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, which sought to employ a community and reduce in-hospital disease transmission. The book highlights strategies to improve health and strengthen communities through design. Featuring an introduction by Dr. Paul Farmer, the founder of Partners In Health and a leader in global health delivery, and a sprawl of breathtaking images by renowned architectural photographer Iwan Baan, Empowering Architecture is a great example of how the intersection between health and design can create a dignified space that heals.

Interested in owning a copy? Contact

Monday, February 20, 2012

Contract Magazine 2012 Designer of the Year Video: MASS Design Group

In this 8 minute video, Contract Magazine has encapsulated MASS's aspirations, an interview with Dr. Paul Farmer, Iwan Baan's brilliant photography, and the MASS Design Group philosophy shared by Cofounders Michael and Alan--a huge thanks to Contract Magazine for both the encouragement and for putting this piece together.

MASS Design Group: Contract magazine’s 2012 Designer of the Year from Contract Magazine on Vimeo.

Friday, February 3, 2012

THREAD: MASS partners with sustainable recycling venture in Haiti

Claire Lubell - holds a BS.Arch from the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. She lived in Haiti this fall as a MASS Design Fellow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Stories! Continued: Training the Next Generation of Rwandan Architects

To recap from the previous post, the Rwandan population is expected to double by 2020, reaching a total of 16 million in the size of Maryland. In preparation for this population boom, the Vision 2020 Plan establishes a framework for Rwanda’s development that aspires to transform Rwanda’s economy into a middle income state, which in turn necessitates a restructuring of the built environment. However, the amount of development is greatly disproportionate to the number of educated and licensed designers. Currently, there are no architecture graduate programs in Rwanda and no licensing program for architects.

Since 2008, MASS Design Group’s designers, Sierra Bainbridge and Garret Gantner, have worked hard to develop the architecture program at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) into a commonwealth accredited program. During the equivalent of KIST’s summer break, MASS had the pleasure of working with 4 aspiring Rwandan architects; you heard the stories written by Jacques and JP, now hear from the other two!

What interested you in enrolling for architecture school?
I have been always interested in construction and everything that goes with. My interest grew as years went by because what I imagined architecture was, became more interesting than I couldn’t believe through my university years. Now I’m interested more than ever in seeing an idea became a reality (a building) and that the whole community can benefit from that idea. I want to further my studies in Interior Design because the way we make our interior look is what make our life more pleasant to live!

Why did you apply for an internship at MASS Design Group?
After Mrs Sierra and Mr Garret presented at KIST what Mass was about and some of their projects and as I have heard about the Butaro Hospital; the design and ideas behind it, I felt like I want to be part of that team and see how they work because I personally am interested in improving people’s lives through architecture. I thought Mass Group was the best place for me to learn from different people with different ideas because at the end of my 2nd year I did my internship in an office with one architect and there weren’t much discussion. But in Mass, I found in there the team spirit, the sharing of ideas that have an impact on people’s lives and every new and good idea is considered. I knew that they were working on hospitals and I felt tempted and I enrolled and thank God they took me!

What did you work on during your 10 weeks with MASS?
During the first weeks I was working on the post occupancy survey for Butaro hospital. I worked on the weather station and on the Air Quality Infection Control Survey for the maternity and the pediatrics wards. In last weeks, I was mainly working on the Nyanza hospital; correcting some drawings and I also worked on door and wall details.

What do you envision your roll to be in the architectural community of Rwanda once you graduate?
Once I graduate, I will try my best to be the in between for the population and the government or the people with the money. But I have to work first on my speaking skills because I don’t think I am good at that! I want that people coming in Rwanda in 10 or 15 years to come, see the change and the improvement in our way of living through the architecture of places that we occupy. Not only rich people have right to our ideas as architects, also the whole community has to benefit from us. We are here for them. A nation is said to be developed based on people’s everyday’s life. And this goes with the places where the population do live. Developing a nation is improving people’s lives. Improving people’s lives is improving their way of living by improving the places they live in.

What interested you in enrolling for architecture school?
First of all, design is my passion. From my primary school, I liked to draw everything I saw on my way and I used to think about how I should change them until my Senior 6, when I was allowed to choose the faculty to follow. I found that my country needs architects including me. I need to participate in finding solutions of my country problems in architecture designing by context.

Why did you apply for an internship at MASS Design Group?

From the beginning of semester 1 until the end of semester 2 at KIST, I liked comments given by all the guys from Mass- helpful and useful. I like the fact that mass works with NGOs which vise to a large community interest such as, PIH and APIE. I like the way Mass designs for finding almost all solutions, not solutions that cause other problems. For example, Mass Design Group has hospital design solutions for fighting against airborne diseases.

What did you work on during your 10 weeks with MASS?

I helped with making woven chairs, cushions, and pillow designs for the Mass office. I helped doing triangulation at Butaro hospital below Men’s ward where a path from Butaro housing had to get the hospital. I did a punchlist for Girubuntu primary school. I designed built-in furniture for Butaro housing.

Why do you think design is important as Rwanda looks to enhance it’s role in the global market?
When I hear a word design, I understand 4 major things: context, functionality, speciality and innovation. Once we will be able to make our own things without copying from anywhere else, special and functional this can be considerable on the global market.

For more information about the architecture department at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology:
Sarah Mohland - holds an M.Arch from Montana State University- Bozeman. She is living in Kigali as a MASS Design Fellow.