Update! The application period is now closed. We will be announcing selections in late May 2020.

About the Public Space Invitational

Since 2014, we have sought ideas on how to make Boston’s public spaces more delightful and beautiful through the Public Space Invitational, our annual civic design competition.

Our focus has always been on shared spaces. However, in the age of physical distancing, many of us are now confined to our homes and find it increasingly difficult to connect with our neighbors. While we can no longer ask people to gather together outside, we are exploring new ways to bring the joy of being outdoors to places closer to home.

This Year's Challenge

For the past few years, the Public Space Invitational has focused on bringing new ideas and events to Boston's green spaces. In 2018, we started a partnership with The Trustees and TD Bank to bring community dinners, interactive play installations, and storytelling and songwriting workshops to five community gardens and green spaces.

Now we hope to bring a slice of these green spaces to homes in three neighborhoods in Boston. This year, we are asking applicants to customize/paint a set of 15 window boxes, planters, pots, and birdhouses. (Click here for dimensions and other details.) 6 individuals or teams will be chosen and each will have a budget of up to $5,000 to complete their project.

Successful applicants will be asked to do the following:

  • Pick up a set window boxes, plants, flower pots, and birdhouses from City Natives, the Trustees' native plant nursery at 30 Edgewater Drive in Mattapan.
  • Create a visual design that reflects the history and culture of one of three neighborhoods (Roxbury, Dorchester, or the South End). Project leads will be expected to get remote design feedback from community members.
  • Implement a visual design on your set of window boxes, plants, flower pots, and birdhouses. In the past, our partners have used paint or vinyl, but we are open to other artistic materials.
  • Transport the set of customized/painted materials back to City Natives by the first week of June 2020.
  • Work with The Trustees, New Urban Mechanics, and community partners on a plan to 1) garner interest in your project and 2) distribute the customized pieces to 15 separate people during the first two weeks of June 2020. Successful applicants will be expected to document their work and connect with community members (including those who install the pieces at their homes) via letters or other printed materials, social media, or video.

Once you have delivered your completed pieces to The Trustees at City Natives, they will plant a mix of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil in the window boxes, planters, and pots. They will then physically distribute your pieces at one of three neighborhood gardens: Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester, El Jardín de la Amistad in Roxbury, or Titus Sparrow Park in the South End.

*Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA.


You can apply here.

The deadline for applications is May 12th, 2020 at 5 PM.

Project Guidelines

  • We will notify the first round of applicants of our decisions by May 14th. Selected artists should try to have their pieces ready by the first week of June.
  • The Trustees will provide you with the core materials. It will be a mix of 15 window boxes, planters, pots, and birdhouses. Click here for dimensions and other details. We will notify you on the best time to pick the materials up from City Natives.
  • Proposals should include a porfolio of your work.
  • Proposals should include a proposed budget of up to $5,000.

More questions? Email us at invitational@newurbanmechanics.org.