Engagement and Placemaking on the MIT campus - meetings the needs of twenty-first-century open space users while respecting the twentieth-century modernist design heritage.

Eastman and McDermott Courts

In the 1930s at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the now-legendary architect I.M. Pei’s dorm room overlooked a large parking lot. He returned in the 1960s and completely redesigned the space and several iconic buildings, creating the remarkable open space on the MIT campus that remains almost entirely intact today. CivicBrand along with our partners Mikyoung Kim Design are tasked with engaging students and staff to develop a vision for the next 60 years that meets the needs of twenty-first-century open space users while respecting the twentieth-century modernist design heritage.


To help spark imagination, we first created a distinct project brand that integrates into the overall MIT brand but allows our project to stand out among all the other campus-wide initiatives. We designed and fabricated experiential engagement signs (which we thoroughly enjoyed watching people walk through and engage with!) and placed them around campus, along with printing custom die-cut flyers. The window cut-out attracts passersby and invites them to envision the future of the space.


We conducted multiple ‘walkshops,’ which are walking focus groups where we shared historical architectural facts about the site while gathering feedback from students on their ideas for evolving the space. Conducting a focus group and placemaking audit of the space while physically standing within it offers a whole new perspective to consider how the built environment feels at different points within the space.


Through a series of multi-day pop-ups, we set up on the MIT campus and engaged students as they were passing by or relaxing between classes. By offering free snacks, coffee, and boba tea (a huge hit!), we were able to encourage students to stop buy and visit with us and help shape the future of the campus open space.

Digital Engagement

At CivicBrand, we believe that equitable engagement involves a well-rounded approach that offers different tools and channels for individuals to engage on their own terms and good balance of in-person and digital. Therefore, we developed a project website with project information, an online survey, and an interactive mapping exercise so that individuals can provide feedback from their own devices, on their own time. And because digital accessibility is a priority of both CivicBrand and MIT the website is fully accessible and ADA, Section 508, and WCAG 2.1 compliant.

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