To encourage innovation and creative design and advance our reputation as a design and thought leader, we have initiated an in-house program to foster and develop this mission. Our BCTcreate program acknowledges that we are all very busy with work and personal responsibilities, but we want to recognize and encourage the inherent creative energy we all have as planners, architects, and designers, in a meaningful and collaborative way.
With this spirit, we are excited to launch BCTgrants. These are time grants that are rewarded to individuals or teams (up to 4 members) for research, design competitions, community engagement projects or other creative ideas that are related to the values of BCTcreate.
BCTgrants provides flexible hours during the work week for our employees to achieve their proposed goals. Grant-worthy projects could include a white paper, design competition, or community-based projects like façade or district improvements. Proposals must include all team members, the intended goal, project statement, how it will achieve design or thought leadership, and schedule. Once approved, the individual or team can spend up to 40 hours each over a three-month period. Final projects will be presented by the individual or team to the office.
Our first grant winner!
The first team’s initial proposal sought to study the neighborhood around Lexington Market. After meeting with Kristen Mitchell from Market Center Merchants Association (MCMA), she made some recommendations for projects around this area. The BCT team documented the existing conditions of the downtown neighborhood and used sketches and photography to show how the area could be improved to keep pace with the proposed renovations to the Lexington Market. Before and after sketches of specific areas, focus on possible solutions that respond to those improvement areas discovered through the analysis.
The team completed a detailed study of the blocks around the intersection of Saratoga and Howard, where the old Provident Bank is located, and also where the Light Rail line passes. Suggestions of design enhancements to these blocks and propose project(s) to further offer development recommendations.
While our team believes a comprehensive planned approach to this study area is still needed, focusing on this particular block was essentially a microcosm of rest of this downtown district. Over the years, there have been many proposals for this area, which will enable a deeper understanding to develop reasonable proposals and both small- and larger-scale solutions. As architects and planners, we are inclined toward preservation of the turn-of-the-century architecture to enhance the existing architectural fabric where it makes sense, rather than the “superblock” approach that scrapes whole blocks.
The BCT team recently presented their ideas to Kristen Mitchell, executive director of the Market Center Merchants Association and representatives from the community.
This area has a tremendous potential!