MLA has a longstanding tradition of expanding the boundaries of conventional architecture practice through theoretical interventions, small-scale investigations, and publications. These explorations allow us to approach design with fresh perspectives and push us to test the limits of form, process, and materials.

Bubble Bar

A floating champagne bar tethered to the bed of the Charles River creates more opportunities for waterfront views. The "bubble" floats on the surface of the water when collecting passengers and then elevates them above the city by means of helium-filled structural ribs. The bubble's polycarbonate transparent floor provides 360-degree views when aloft or afloat. The bubble bar provides a viewing platform, beverage service, and a unique experience for an urban site.
Millennium Box

The design of the U.S. mailbox has not changed for six decades and has become an unconsidered fixture on every American city block. With the advent of new materials and lighting capabilities, a better box is possible.

During daylight hours the Millennium Box's eco-resin skin allows mail customers to see if the box is full or empty. The blast proof skin is manufactured in accordance with US Homeland security design guidelines, and mail carriers can visually inspect the boxes without opening them to identify any suspicious packages.

At night, the boxes glow with embedded PV powered LED lighting and act as wayfarer beacons that punctuate the dimly lit environment.
Raw Bar
Seaport District, Boston, MA

The Raw Bar is a venue to both highlight the New England fishing Industry and enjoy fresh seafood. An integrally colored machine cut fiber reinforced seating/table component lines the center of the barge. A transparent linear trough holds live fish and mollusks. Sea water is continuously pumped through the tank and cascades back into the sea.

Visitor to the Raw Bar sit and watch as baristas net live seafood from the tank, prepare clams on the half shell and sushi. Produces comes directly from the Logan Flats and provides a direct sales outlet for East Boston fishing and shell fishing Industry;

Fishing vessels unload their produce directly onto the Raw Bar heightening the marine experience. Clam shells and gurry are recycled with departing boats.

The HUB (Habitat for Urban Bicycles) is intended to provide a convenient, user-friendly, downtown destination for commuting cyclists that also increases cycling's profile and educates the larger public as to its benefits.

The pavilion includes a self-service storage system, lockers, and a small bicycle service center. It also includes an interactive information center that reinforces and helps to grow the cycling community.

The resolution of all of these requirements is a building with two distinct parts - a glazed, elliptical slid that houses the lockers, the service center and the information center and the metal and glass armature that floats a story above and wraps around the bicycle storage mechanism.

The combination of these two parts presents a public face that works at a number of different levels. First, the ground level kiosk, which houses most of the basic functions, is oriented to the users - bikers and pedestrians. The storage area, which floats above, is scaled to be read by drivers and office workers with views from the many surrounding office towers.

Select Recognition:

Boston Society of Architects, Un-built Architecture Award, Honor Award for Design, 2006
Blue Print Magazine London, Reinventing the Bike Shed Competition First Place, June 2006
River Genie

Millions of metric tons of trash float down U.S. rivers each year and empty into our oceans. The River Genie passively collects garbage before it pollutes the environment. The design is based on the integration of the Playtex Diaper Genie and the Native American fishing seine net. The River Genie is moored in the river and oriented against the current to capture garbage as it floats downriver. The removable garbage collection net is replaced as required. Escape louvers at the mouth of the bag prevent aquatic life from getting trapped.

Select Recognition:

Boston Society of Architects, Un-built Architecture Award, Exhibit Citation, 2008
Seoul Design Olympiad, Gold Award, 2008
Urban Hookah

Laws that prevent people from smoking inside public buildings and many multi-family residential buildings have forced smokers outside—but only just outside. While many would argue this creates further incentives to quit, it does not recognize the reality of the situation, which is that smokers are then relegated to the sidewalks near the entrances to buildings, bars, and restaurants, and non-smokers are still subjected to second-hand smoke. The Urban Hookah attaches to most streetlights and is composed of three elements: a mechanism providing heat, air filtration, and cigarette receptacles; a structural armature with a universal clamping collar; and a translucent fiberglass skin that shields users from the elements.

Select Recognition:

Seoul Design Olympiad, Honorable Mention, 2008
Boston Society of Architects, Un-built Architecture Award, Honor Award for Design, 2004
Urban Rack

The Urban Rack minimizes household energy consumption by eliminating the need for mechanized clothes dryers. It also saves space in urban environments where square feet are at a premium. The Urban Rack is a retractable clothes-drying structure affixed to the perimeter of a window frame that allows for open-air clothes drying. A colored, breathable textile fabric allows for continuous airflow while protecting clothing from the elements.

Select Recognition:

Boston Society of Architects, Un-built Architecture Award, Honor Award for Design, 2009
Zipcar Dispenser

Zipcar and other car sharing businesses reduce the number of cars on the road, parking congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions. But they have had difficulty finding affordable, leasable space for car storage in dense urban areas. The Zipcar dispenser parking structure operates like a PEZ dispenser, depositing cars in lieu of candy. A Zipcar member would approach the dispenser and insert their membership card in the card reader. A translucent shroud moves down to street level, protecting the area where the vehicle will land. As the shroud is raised, a car is lowered and ready to use. The procedure works in reverse when the car is returned. The dispenser stacks seven cars in the same area as two tandem 9'x18' parking spaces.

Select Recognition:

Seoul Design Olympiad, Honorable Mention, 2008
Boston Society of Architects, Un-built Architecture Award, Honor Award for Design, 2003
Dwell, July/August 2008
The New York Times, February 25 2007
Urban Land Institute, "The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form", Shannon S. McDonald, 2007
Princeton Architectural Press, "Autonomous Urbanism", Abruzzo, Briseno, Solomon, 2006
The Boston Globe Magazine, March 21 2004