No. 267 . 07 December 2005 
ArchitectureWeek
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Urban Arts

by Michael J. Crosbie

The new home for Artists for Humanity in Boston is a creative combination of hard-working architecture, sustainable design and construction, and a reflection of the youth who work and learn in the building. The facility, known as the "EpiCenter," designed by Arrowstreet Architects of Somerville, Massachusetts, is on an infill site in South Boston.

The mission of the nonprofit Artists for Humanity (AFH) is to give inner-city young people opportunities to express themselves through art and to make a living at it as well. AFH emphasizes the arts as a route to entrepreneurship — a path that isn't considered often enough for this population.

EpiCenter is in South Boston's Fort Point Channel neighborhood, which has long been a hot spot for artists, architects, and other creative types. Rising land values and rents have made it harder for such tenants to stay in the neighborhood, and the EpiCenter now secures a permanent home for AFH.

Established artists work with low-income and other disadvantaged teens, mostly between the ages of 14 and 18, and help them find opportunities for apprenticeship and employment using their creativity and talents.

Students work with local artists in after-school and summer programs to establish proficiency in such arts as photography, print making, silkscreening, graphic design, sculpture, and painting, which can lead to apprenticeships and full employment. The program emphasizes education, discipline, and (ultimately) sustainability — all qualities that Arrowstreet sought to express in the building itself.   >>>

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