Urban Investigations


With the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of H. H. Richardson’s Hayden Building now complete, we would like to share more of what we learned through our research and how we exhibited the building’s storied past.

We set out with the premise that not only were we rehabilitating this historically significant structure but we were also preserving the ideas and time periods that shaped it.  We began the project with extensive research on the evolution of the neighborhood over the last 140 years and even traced the building’s commercial occupants as seen here.

The character of a place is established by the people that inhabit it regardless of the building, which for the Hayden Building shifted radically.  Because the neighborhood centered on the production of textiles during the end of the 19th century, its occupants were mostly clothing and hat shops.  After a mixture of businesses during the 20th century, the Hayden Building became a focal point of adult entertainment in the 1960’s as the neighborhood turned into the Combat Zone, Boston’s red-light district. On the edge of Chinatown and the Theater district, this Nationally Registered Historic Landmark was gutted by fire in 1985 and remained vacant until its reuse today.

We endeavored to create a symbiotic relationship between new and old, telling the visual story of past and present at the same time.  Contrasting old worn elements with layers of new refined elements heightens the awareness of both.  It is in these relationships that emerges the richness of place and understanding of time.  HBI afforded us the opportunity to visually tell this social history of the Hayden Building within its common spaces combining traces of history with modern living.



Entry / Lobby

The Hayden Building defines the beginning of Richardson’s exploration of how Read More…

CUBE’s Hayden Building honored with Preservation Award

CUBE’s Hayden Building honored with Preservation Award by the Boston Preservation Alliance. 



Flash Markets

As citizens work to take back their urban communities, planning departments have been playing catch- up. Shopping kiosks, parklets, push carts, food trucks, guerilla gardening, yarn bombing, and all manner of tactical urbanism have begun to proliferate urban centers. While often welcomed, this proliferation has begun to breakdown the visual coherence of city districts, edges, nodes and other elements that define identity. In response, planning departments have started embracing tactical urbanism as an instigator for renewing street life as well as attempting to write some rules to retain identity and strengthen what Kevin Lynch termed in 1960 as “The Image of the City.”

01-market carts


In 2011 CUBE was approached by the lease holder of a fruit and flower stand located at the prominent corner of the Old South Meeting House (a National Landmark). We were asked to design a semi- permanent structure that addressed security issues for the market as well as respected the historic nature of the building it sits aside. This led to a larger study of the many such vendors in Boston’s Downtown Crossing district, and invited conversations with the Boston Redevelopment Authority which had been struggling with the loss of a cohesive identity in the district.

02-kiosk layouts

After speaking with the many food and retail vendor cart owners in the area, we begin to define a modular and moveable kiosk that both held identity in its form and graphics for the city, and allowed vendors to customize and graft onto for their own needs. The kiosks could be presented individually or linked in many configurations to form a full market.

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CUBE worked with Frank Harmon Architects to create three distinct options for a parking attendant booth in Raleigh. Each option mediates sunlight and security surveillance while anchoring the parking lot entry point.


Market at Old South Meeting House

In 2011 CUBE was approached by the lease holder of a fruit and flower stand located at the prominent corner of the Old South Meeting House (a National Landmark). We were asked to design a semi- permanent structure that addressed security issues for the market as well as respected the historic nature of the building it sits aside. We aimed to create a structure that activated the corner, held identity and security for the vendor, and left the National Landmark Building fully visible. Our design had to be approved by the Vendor, the Old South Meeting House Museum, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and the Boston Landmarks Commission.
14-old south meeting house market
Sometimes the best architecture is the architecture that disappears. Where previously a dark canopy once blocked this corner of the building, we decided to lift a new structure that carefully aligns with existing brick work of the building. This allowed the full height of the historic windows to be viewed through the market. A transparent roof further allows even sunlight to be cast onto the building as well as filling the market below. Transparent wall panels provide overnight security as well as a dynamic canopy structure during the day creating an identity for the vendor.

For updated images and information go to the project page of our website. Construction of the Old South Market will begin in September of 2013.

Downtown Crossing Redevelopment

During the course of our flash market studies the Boston Redevelopment Authority asked us to formally respond to an RFP that addressed the larger identity of the district including vendor carts, streetscape, paving, graphics, and wayfinding. We assembled ideas and a team that included urban planner Nathalie Beauvais, Studio 2112 Landscape Architects, Bluerock Graphic Design, Urban Marketing Collaborative, Nitsch Civil Engineering, and Fennessy Cost Consulting.

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After the completion of the Jetty House in 2006, we were contacted by another Folly Beach resident [Carson Project] to look at expansion options for his existing one-story beach bungalow.  Due to modified zoning codes and a building moratorium enforced on the island, the site constraints became more challenging than our previous experience with the Jetty House. These developmental challenges motivated us to question the regional and local design solutions that would balance the newly applied restrictions with a more desirable coastal architecture.

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Parklet Artbox

parklet artbox

Our 2006 entry for a peeping art box competition located in a downtown parking lot of Calgary, Canada. Slits in a mirrored box offer collapsed views of art inside. The exterior is constructed of two-way mirrored glass that is opaque in bright daylight and becomes transparent in dim light; reflecting both the cityscape and the time of day.