As Siegel Family Endowment’s Infrastructure grantmaking portfolio continues to grow, we’re developing partnerships with organizations whose work is emblematic of our multidimensional framework for understanding infrastructure. MASS Design Group, a non-profit architecture and design collective, is an example of one such partner. Their approach is centered on creating equity, prosperity and sustainability in the communities they serve, a feat they achieve by stitching these values into the entire chain of decisions – including designs, labor, materials, financing, and stewardship – around their builds. They were recently named the Wall Street Journal Magazine’s Architecture Innovator of the Year, and are responsible for award-winning and globally-recognized projects, such as the National Memorial of Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
We recently made a grant to support two of MASS Design’s ongoing projects that will refine our understanding of physical infrastructure. We’re supporting MASS Design’s Fringe Cities Lab, a research initiative that examines how urban renewal contributed to population loss and urban decay in small American cities, and develops a framework for helping communities heal from these wounds. The work of the Fringe Cities Lab asks what cities, architects, and communities can do together in order to better understand the complicated legacy of urban renewal in America, and to chart a path forward that can help build community wealth collaboratively and organically.
Additionally, through a partnership with the Community Foundation of Hudson Valley, we are supporting the early stages of a collaboration between MASS Design and Poughkeepsie-local grantee Uncharted Power. The two teams will work together to develop visualizations and renderings that clearly illustrate how Uncharted’s paver technology will be integrated with the city of Poughkeepsie’s existing infrastructure, and enhance public knowledge and engagement around their recently launched pilot program. This partnership is a model of the types of local collaboration we’re eager to see in communities across the country, and couples technological innovation with community-focused design and conscientious physical development in a way that we’re eager to see replicated around the country.
By pursuing work that so clearly illustrates the ties between the built environment and social and economic outcomes, MASS Design’s strategic mindset is implicitly aware of the social, physical, and technological factors that inform multidimensional infrastructure. We’re confident that their next phase of research and their continued work in Poughkeepsie and beyond will help develop actionable lessons for conscious, community-centric development practices in cities around the country.