Of art and nail polish

Identity and asset map for Boston’s Fenway District

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Some of the world’s most recognized cultural institutions and public spaces grace a two-mile stretch of Boston’s Huntington Avenue. Here, the Berklee School of Music, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Boston Symphony coexist with a heady knowledge economy and upscale retail. But as a district planning study, led by UK-based placemaking consultant Futurecity, got underway, it quickly became clear that the district, alas, doesn’t see itself as a district.

To convince a roomful of august institutional stakeholders that they shared—literally—common ground, we needed critical distance. We needed perspective. We needed a bird’s-eye view. In other words, we needed a map.


Through a series of charrettes with stakeholders and consultants, we recognized that people don’t view the district as a homogenous entity. Rather, they experience a string of distinct zones, loosely connected together by a central spine—Huntington Avenue. Our map, therefore, reduced visual clutter to foreground the Avenue, a central element that bisects the page. All around it, dramatically plotted against a black background, are interconnected clusters of arts and culture venues. Along one side, we provided walking, biking, and transit information, showing relationships between zones diagrammatically. Along the other, we developed a series of vignettes that cue viewers into the district’s blockbuster cultural attractions, as well as its hidden wonders.

“It will make a beautiful and highly relevant addition to our collection.”

Leventhal Map & Education Center curator, on accepting the map to the permanent collection.

The map not only depicted a journey, but made one. Limited-edition prints were silk-screened by students at MassArt, located at the edge of the district. Print Number One, tucked securely in a tube, travelled to the opposite end of the Avenue, to the doors of the Boston Public Library, where, gently handled by curators’ white-gloved hands, it entered into the institution’s permanent collection. The district, at last, was made visible to itself.

HandmadeAlthough the map was digitally authored, it was printed by hand: MassArt students poured labor and love into a set of limited-edition silkscreens.



Identity and asset map for Boston’s Fenway District


  • Strategy,
  • editorial,
  • data design


  • Civic,
  • placemaking,
  • culture,
  • urban,
  • institutional


The Boston Foundation and consortium of cultural partners


In partnership with FutureCity, printed by MassArt, completed while at Sasaki


Winner, PRINT Magazine 2018 Regional Design Award; on permanent collection of the Boston Public Library

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