It all started with a phone call. And the rest, they say, is history. Board liaison Leah Emerson was looking for resources online for capacity building and support of FoFH's mission to bring community-based redevelopment options and planning expertise to the former Malden Hospital. Joy Pearson of FoFH wasted no time in calling the Boston Architectural College (BAC) directly to follow that lead. She got Ben Peterson, the BAC's Gateway Initiative Director, on the first ring. Learning the brief history of the property and about the adjacent Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot designed Fellsmere Park, Ben was intrigued.
A little coordination, an initial meeting, a subsequent application, with some luck and timing, suddenly FoFH gained the support of a 10-student, faculty advisor-led team. The intent was to assist the Malden and Medford ad hoc hospital review committees in studying community-based options, which will eventually lead to a plan that serves the interests and needs of both communities.
With community-based options and supporting materials, the hope is that negotiations can be furthered with the current owners of the property, MelroseWakefield Healthcare, formerly Hallmark Health, who also own the Lawrence Memorial Hospital campus in Medford and MelroseWakefield Hospital in Melrose. With the delivery of healthcare changing dramatically over the nearly 20 years since Malden Hospital was closed, it's more important than ever to take into account our communities valid, vital health and recreational needs and the few sizeable properties left where those needs can be realized.
The Gateway Initiative at BAC was created in response to the economic recession of 2008. Like many design professionals, BAC students were having an exceedingly tough time finding work, a key component of their unique curriculum and program, and community nonprofit budgets and contributions were all but drying up. Recognizing the crucial need and opportunity, BAC paired students looking for tangible work projects with nonprofits, community groups, and municipalities in need of critical design services and technical expertise. The Gateway Initiative was born and hundreds of thousands of service hours later, the BAC Gateway program is still going strong. With a partial list of their clients around greater Boston below, you can go here and here and here to see the quality and viability of their work. FoFH feels so fortunate to join the long and growing list of BAC Gateway Initiative Community Partners.
“I run an educational curriculum, the Gateway Initiative, that teams our students with a variety of neighborhood organizations and nonprofit groups who seek design assistance for their missions. I encourage my students to understand that design is about listening. Designers have a responsibility to amplify personal narratives and live the experiences of the people we work with and learn from.”
- Benjamin Peterson, Director of Practice Instruction & Student Support at the BAC & Recipient of the Social Impact Award at the 2019 Boston Design Week