Sept. 20 – Launch Weekend @ East Boston, HarborArts Festival


East Boston, constructed raw from landfill. Built across six islands in the post-war period; now home to shipbuilders, immigrants and a new wave of “young professionals”, artists and artisans. A neighborhood literally built from the ground up. Out of the water. In the 19th century isolated from the mainland because of a lack of transportation — with Eastie accessible only by a paddle steamer, chugging across the harbor — now criss-crossed with high-speed / slow-movement of 21st century access. Cars honk and crawl across Maverick Square. Pick-up trucks of contractors home early to drop-off their kids. Three-generation families out to lunch at Taqueria Cancun for the soup special. The Blue Line, popping up out from underground for a final breath before tunneling out to the airport. The trail of passenger planes departing from Logan rumbling overhead. Oil trucks navigating too-small roads. Construction workers getting shouted at by the job manager on the so fast, yet still too slow, build of over 600 units of new schwanky condos overlooking the water. Teenage boys on BMX bikes hooting at pedestrians as they peel around sidewalk corners on their way to smoke and Facetime with girls on the patio of Italian Express Pizzeria.

Circus for Construction launched its fall tour in East Boston. We began with a long search for a space to build our mobile gallery. This search spanned increasingly despairing conversations — and ultimately rejections — from our home universities (MIT, Harvard), art cooperatives, auto mechanics, women renting out their garages on Craigslist, so-called “incubator spaces”, owners of empty lots in Somerville. We at last found at home at HarborArts, in the Boston Shipyard and Marina. HarborArts, a non-profit in East Boston and home to one of the largest collections of public art in the city, became the construction site and support system. In Building 32, formerly used to sandblast steel, we built the Circus in six weeks. Our neighbors — who construct bridges, ships, racing yachts — peeked in and said hello, shook their heads at our truck driving, offered suggestions. We found our most stalwart ally in Praxis, the fabrication shop of Joshua Kampa, who welded the aluminum frame for our project. On September 20, we hitched the gooseneck of the Circus to our truck and pulled out into the sunlight.


Circus in Building 32, Harbor Arts, before the opening


Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog

The Circus for Construction opening featured two events on the topic of Boston “local.” Both events ultimately complicated and critiqued the term “local,” provoking through questions of speculative design and discourse a less superficial sense of the city. East Boston, in fact, had challenged the Circus’ curatorial idea that a “city” can have some singular identity or direction to exhibit. The neighborhood was radically different from Cambridge, Somerville and the parts of the city we knew before.

Michael Lee’s exhibit, “Boston Manual: A Participatory City Design,” engaged visitors to re-imagine their metropolis through custom-made tools. Lee investigated a series of six residential typologies, from single-family house to apartment tower. Each of these types was abstracted and then etched onto a paint roller. Visitors to the exhibit got a chance to roll out a new urban landscape. Lee’s project provoked questions about city design and its relationship with its inhabitants.


Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog


Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog

Did the participatory mural perform or echo the agency which, in fact, East Boston residents are fighting for through community meetings and neighborhood groups? Lee’s murals, taken up in earnest by children, who were attracted to the brightly colors and rolling movement, ultimately became a brackish fog of paint. The murals seems to portray city at night, in a blur, with few houses or trees visible at all. What vision of the city was captured in these paintings, created not long in the wake of neighborhood protests against Casino openings, luxury redevelopment, a spreading housing crisis just a few blocks away?


Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog


Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog

The second event at Circus’ opening was a parlor-style, talk show format conversation led by Jen Krava (Harvard GSD). “Circus Ballyhoo: Local Applications + Global Implications” featured Ron Mallis (BostonAPP/Lab), Greg Galer (Boston Preservation Alliance), and Catherine Widgery, a local artist. Krava mimicked the form of TV and radio gameshows, provoking the speakers through “True or False” stories and “Fill in the Blank quizzes.” Topics which were captured in the conversation included questioning the term local within an increasingly “globalized” world — an idea which Galer challenged, pointing to the rich historical networks made through trade, shipping, communication, preceding instantaneous communication technologies which we colloquially associate with ‘global’ connections. Mallis asked the panelists and audience to choose pronouns carefully, to wonder about the term “we” and who it really represents in situations of urban intervention. Widgery spoke about changing perceptions of the ‘real’, including in the over-saturation of print photography, asking the audience to become more sensitive and aware of our observations.


Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog


Catherine Widgery. Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog


Jen Krava, Ron Mallis, Greg Galer and Catherine Widgery. Photo by Michael Peguero of baselog

At the end of the evening, we folded down Circus’ double-height space, closed its exterior panels, and pulled back into Building 32 for the night. This weekend (October 3-5), it will travel for its first on-the-road trip to Buffalo, NY, continuing the search for local curiosities and gathering them to share out of the back of a truck.

[ Night photographs by Craig Reschke. Time lapse video by Larisa Ovalles. Construction panorama by Ann Lui. ]

[ Learn more about the shipyard + HarborArts @; more on Praxis at ]



The Unbearable Urban Lightness


A poetic nonetheless truthful account of the past and present of Santo Domingo written by Omar Rancier. 


Around 515 or 516 years ago (the exact date of which historians can still not agree on) the Spanish city of Santo Domingo was founded on the southern coast of the Island of Hispaniola. It seems ironic that its founding was, in the words of Reverend Rubio, an act of love; the product of which was not only the inception of the city but also the birth of the first mestizo of The Americas. The irony lies in the fact that this very act of love between Miguel and Catalina has in the ensuing five centuries transmuted itself into a space of intrinsic aggression; something which on a daily basis is more to be endured than savored by its amalgamated population.

If Milan Kundera, as a result of an existential search that resulted in a novel, came to conclude that the lightness of being is unbearable, it might also be said of Santo Domingo that, over time, it has developed an urban lightness which is unbearable, in its search for an increasingly vanishing sense of identity.

The city, swollen as it is with noxious tunnels, dripping over-passes, viaducts and useless pedestrian bridges, and smacking of mass more than levity, groans under the load of a lightness whose cost outweighs its functionality. (more…)

Launch – A to B

Last Friday was our projects first on site intervention. The weather was gorgeous and people came from each sides of the train tracks to share their experiences of the Railway. Even the Mayor of the Mile-End district came to show us where he would put a level-crossing.

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

photo : Pablo Neumann

Hmong Fashion Show “Fresh Traditions” organized by CHAT

Storefront Marketplace’s collaborator CHAT (Center for Hmong Arts & Talents) organized this presentation of contemporary Hmong design produced in Saint Paul, MN. Hmong textile art (Paj ntau or Paj ntaub, or “flower cloth” in Hmong) looks back on a long tradition in Hmong culture. The embroidery consists of bold geometric designs and bright, contrasting colors such as neon pink or neon green. Different patterns and techniques of production are associated with geographical regions and cultural subdivisions within the Hmong community and continue to be passed down to the younger generations. “Fresh Traditions” reveals the strong interest in contemporary Hmong-American fashion designers in these traditional patterns whilst appropriating them for their idiosyncratic designs.

Hill Tribe Fusion's new creations.

Hill Tribe Fusion’s new creations “Enchanted”.

Fusion of contemporary and traditional fabrics.

Fusion of contemporary and traditional fabrics.




Ceceil's collection "Something Borrowed"

Ceceil’s collection “Something Borrowed”

Extracto de “La verdadera historia: 
los barrios y ensanches del Polígono Central de la ciudad de Santo Domingo” / Extract from “The true story: the neighborhoods of the Poligono Central of Santo Domingo”

Texto original por Mauricia Domínguez Rodríguez*. Pubilicado en AAA047.

“Toda historia se cuenta a partir de sus protagonistas, y nuestra ciudad es la protagonista de este relato que intenta dilucidar las vicisitudes por las que han pasado 
los lugares que hoy configuran este importante núcleo representativo de la ciudad de Santo Domingo”

Original text by Mauricia Domínguez Rodríguez. Published by AAA047.

“Every story is told on account of its main characters, and our city is the main character of this story that aims at elucidating the vicissitudes that the places which configure this important nucleus of Santo Domingo went through.”

­Origen y desarrollo

El Polígono Central es un territorio de la ciudad de Santo Domingo, localizado entre las avenidas 27 de Febrero -al sur-, la Ortega y Gasset -al este-, la John F. Kennedy -al norte 
y la Winston Churchill -al oeste-. Declarado como tal por el ADN en 1998, comprende
 casi una decena de repartos, ensanches y desarrollos, iniciados antes de la segunda mitad del siglo XX por diversas iniciativas inmobiliarias privadas. Se origina en los antiguos terrenos de Galá o de Gaillard, una sección de la Común de San Carlos, que en 1896 tenía aproximadamente 33,000 tareas, unos 270 habitantes y 45 casas o bohíos.

En ella, grandes franjas de terrenos se dedicaron durante varios siglos, al cultivo, y en mayor grado a la ganadería, aunque la escasez de agua para la siembra obligó a utilizar la zona como potreros. Desde un principio, la ciudad estuvo rodeaba de pequeños ingenios y trapiches que sólo serán utilizados como asentamientos formales a partir de las primeras intervenciones viales del sector. Las raíces del desarrollo urbano del sector las podemos encontrar en los antiguos caminos 
y en la configuración de las parcelas, que formaron una estructura fundamental para el desarrollo de las urbanizaciones, ligada a la concepción de ciudad de varios hombres visionarios, quienes apostaron a un futuro de desarrollo urbanístico del oeste de la ciudad.

Desde que
se extendió fuera de sus murallas, Santo Domingo creció a lo largo de los caminos tradicionales de comunicación con las poblaciones del interior de la isla. Desde el asentamiento extramuros de la villa de San Carlos, las tierras al norte y al oeste de la ciudad estaban bajo la jurisdicción de la Comuna de San Carlos que arribaba hasta la ciudad de San Cristóbal; siendo una de las más grandes. (more…)

Casas Modernas del Polígono Central/ Modern houses in Polígono Central

1fachada frontal
2fachada carros
3AAA casa naco 1958
4AAA Casa Polígono 02
5AAA Casa Polígono 03
6AAA Casa Bolera
7casa moderna TG2
8casa moderna TG 1


  1. Residencia de la familia De Moya Ruiz. Diseñada por el arquitecto Edgardo
    (Gay) Vega Malagón en el 1956, estuvo ubicada en la Max Heriquez Ureña #83.
    /// De Moya Ruiz family residence designed by arch. Edgardo Vega, 1956.
  2. IDEM
  3. Una de las primeras casas construidas en el Ensanche Naco por la Compañía
    Nacional de Construcciones (NACO), en 1958: residencia de la familia
    Martínez Lluberes, del Ing. Marcial Martínez Soler, quien ha sido uno de los principales protagonistas en el desarrollo de la obra del Proyecto Naco*.
    /// Residence of the family Martínez Lluberes built in 1958 by eng. Marcial 
    Martínez Soler. One of the first houses built in the Naco quarter. 
  4. Residencia Solares en el Reparto Yolanda. Diseñada por Cott & Gautier, 1972. Fuente: Archivo personal Arq. Erwin Cott*.
    /// Solares residence, designed by Cott & Gautier in 1972.
  5. Residencia del Dr. Ángel Gesualdo, Ensanche Paraíso, Calle Dr. Jacinto 
    Ignacio Mañón #38 - Demolida. Diseñada por Fermín Villanueva en 1968.Fuente:
    Archivo personal del Arq. Villanueva*.
    /// Dr. Angel Gesualdo's residence, designed by Fermin Villanueva in 1968.
  6. Residencia Piantini. Diseño: Ing. Arq. Guillermo Piantini del Castillo, 
    c. 1950. Ave. Abraham Lincoln esq. Roberto Pastoriza. Demolida. En su lugar 
    se encuentran los edificios de la Bolera y La Francesa. Fuente: Archivo 
    personal de Salvador Sturla*. 
    /// Piantini residence designed by arch.eng. Guillermo Piantini del Castillo in 1950.
  7. Residencia Osvaldo Marte, diseñada por el Arq. Raúl de Moya, en 1977. Su
    ubicación fue en la antigua Calle 10, Ensanche Julieta.
    /// Osvaldo Marte's residence designed by arch. Raul de Moya in 1977.
  8. Residencia Kourie-Bornia, del arquitecto Eduardo Rozas Aristy. Su ubicación
    fue en la Calle Luis F. Thomen 157. Su fecha de ejecución 1979.
    /// Kourie-Bornia residence, by arch. Eduardo Rozas Aristy.
  9. Residencia de la familia Pérez Morales, localizada en la esquina noreste de
    la intersección entre la avenida Winston Churchill -entonces inexistente- y
    la calle Gustavo Mejía Ricart, entonces calle 18. Fuente: Archivo Pérez Morales*.
    /// Family Perez Morales residence.
*Publicada en AAA 047

Agradecimientos: AAA (Archivos deArquitectura Antillana), Flia. De Moya Ruiz y Gina Calventi


Storefront Marketplace Opening feat. Dinner Exchange Americana.

We collected, we cooked, we ate!

Thank you to the vendors of the HmongTown Marketplace who contributed their leftover produce, and to the sous-chefs Evan and Jacqueline.

Although a predominantly white situation in the beginning, towards the end, a few of the Hmong vendors approached us, tasted our creations, and gave us their culinary feedback: which vegetables to mix together, which spices to use for different combinations and types of food, how to prepare certain vegetables etc. – a true crash course in Hmong cuisine.

We are looking forward to future cooking adventures at the market in the month to come.

Lunch Exchange Americana_HmongTown_08

Setting up our dinner situation.

Setting up our dinner situation.

Chinese cabbage and other greens donated by the Hmong vendors.

Chinese cabbage and other greens donated by the Hmong vendors.

Our guests tasted our creations.

Our guests tasted our creations.

Lunch Exchange Americana_HmongTown_21a

Lunch Exchange Americana_HmongTown_24