The Future of Transportation Could Include a Skateboard-Meets-Segway Hybrid Vehicle

That, and other concepts from architects, policy makers, and inventors are on display at the BSA.

Photo courtesy of Höweler + Yoon Architecture.

Photo courtesy of Höweler + Yoon Architecture.

As the MBTA focuses on small changes to the transit system in the current decade, architects and inventors from around the city have their eyes on what lies ahead for Boston’s transportation system, and their concepts are on display.

The Boston Society of Architects gallery, BSA Space, is hosting a “future-oriented” show on transformative transportation, called “Rights of Way: Mobility and the City.”

Curated by James Graham and Meredith Miller of MILLIGRAM-office, an architecture firm based out of New York, the gallery display looks at the ways our urban environment constantly shifts, and how those changes need to be balanced between different individuals working in a variety of professional sectors.

From designers, to policy makers, business owners, and residents living in particular cities around the world, public rights are always at play in the shared commons of any landscape.

The gallery is part of “Overhaul: the 2013-2014 Transportation Series,” which was put together by the Boston Society of Architects, the Boston Foundation for Architecture, Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission, and the Barr Foundation, and includes a speaker series as well.

“The exhibition will examine large-scale urban futures, contemporary examples of innovative design for transit and public space, historical attempts at remaking the city, and individual adaptations of mobility systems,” according to a statement from BSA Space.

Miller said there are different elements to the exhibit, such as drawings, renderings, videos, and even live models of what future modes of transportation may look like.

“There is an interesting concept about what transportation could be in 2030, and another is how it has been in the last few years,” she said.

One component is a rendering by architecture firm Höweler + Yoon Architecture, founded by an MIT architecture professor and Harvard Design graduate, which was picked as one of the winners of the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award.

“Audi invited five teams from around the world to do research and proposals for what their city could be like in the year 2030,” said Miller.

One of the machines on display, called the Green Machine, a Vespa-like vehicle, was created by inventors from the Saint Thomas Academy in Minnesota, with help from the Lemelson-MIT program in Cambridge. It was first conceptualized in 2008.

“It’s especially interesting because it’s a compact efficient vehicle. We think of them providing agile short distance service but this one gives it more protection. It’s like a motorcycle with a body,” said Miller.

A skateboard-meets-Segway vehicle is also featured at the Rights of Way show. Miller said the contraption, which looks similar to an off-road vehicle, reacts to a user’s movements.

A third alternative mode of transport that inventors envision in Boston’s future is a “hacked razor scooter with a boost,” Miller said, which comes from the MIT Media Lab.

“They tie in because they can show what people can consider, and that the city doesn’t have to look like it does now. Technologies combined with planning and policy could do a lot to transform our cities,” she said. “All the objects and renderings provide a ‘what if’ and a ‘what could be’ and that’s an interesting thing to be left with—realizing there are all these assumptions about what we have for transportation, and challenging those is part of the job of the show.”

The ongoing event is free, and open to the public, and runs through May.

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Photo via BSA Space

Photo via BSA Space

Photo via BSA Space

  • G Fred Payne

    Very interesting. I wonder how we can springboard these ideas to Greenville?

  • Matt Eads

    Val, I can second that. My friend went to a “BFA tour” last week where they pleaded for money. The transportation component is in the red; was told the organizer is still owed thousands

  • Nicole Gilmour

    The ITDP is pushing hard yet again, despite the 2009 28X community rejection. I never saw Roxbury and Mattapan more united than when it came to repealing 28X. Why is the BSA giving them yet another venue? All they do is promote BRT over rail, hardly an objective group.

  • Luis Second

    The Barr Foundation & ITDP funded a BRT Trip to Mexico, Thousands of dollars to look at buses. ITDP material has also started to pop up in the BSA events. Why doesn’t the BSA just call it the “BRT Is Better Than Rail” Series Sponsored by the ITDP

  • Luis Second

    The ITDP also funded Somerville’s past traffic studies. They’re a global BRT lobbying group. The local Barr Foundation needs to fund them?

  • Maria Cruz

    If Mary Skelton Roberts and Nathan Peyton at Barr are unaware that the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) is a BRT group funded by bus manufacturers: then you shouldn’t fault them. ITDP doesn’t come out and just announce it, if so, they would call themselves “BRTNow” or the “Institute for BRT Policy” However, if they are aware of ITDP’s background, they should stop while they’re ahead. The ITDP wasted thousands of dollars and time in 2009 with the MBTA 28X bus project.

  • Alex S

    Don’t look now, but Walter Hook and two of his paid ITDP talking heads are coming back to Boston to shove BRT down our throats. We all still remember the 28X ITDP BRT disaster, right?

  • Mariko M

    I know the Joburg individual on the ITDP panel. She touts BRT has if its some religious epiphany. Not sure if they’re paid by the ITDP, but they seem to be rabid supporters, similar to the CNU and neo-traditionalists

  • Diane M

    Mariko, they are paid by the ITDP to speak about the ITDP. Only about 30 people showed up last night at the BSA, it was heartbreaking but deserving. There’s nothing wrong with BRT, its an important system, but ITDP just shoves it in your face with very fuzzy math. Wonder what’s going to happen with their Chicago BRT presentation next month from the now-fired Gabe Klein

  • Elizabeth D

    Why the heck is Gabe Klein the conclusionary lecture of this series!? Didn’t the WG come together and decide on the speakers? Did none of this matter? Did I just waste my time contributing? Its a good thing we passed on him too, Mr. Klein was fired with cause in Chicago. There’s nothing he can share that’s worthwhile to Boston, thus why we passed.

  • Julia D

    Ken, it definitely fits, Gabe Klein was forced out of Chicago and DC, Stephanie Pollack was forced out of Conservation Law and Blue Wave. But maybe a more suitable title should be “Boston Transportation Cronyism: The Horror”

  • Mike P

    Heard the Gabe Klein event was even WORSE than T4MA. More fluff, more filler, more nothing. Plus, Stephanie Pollack went on a twitter rage, guess she wasn’t happy that her involvement was leaked. Stated, if nobody is complaining, you’re not working hard enough”. For both SP and Gabe, it should be “if people are complaining, you’re not listening, stop now before you’re fired again”. At city hall, SP’s codename isn’t “rebel”, it starts with a v and ends with an s. Instead of screaming, try listening for a change.

  • Norton W

    Whoever was behind the Gabe Klein disaster probably thought the Sheryl /Steve Snyder payment plan was a good idea a well. Steve Snyder {BCEC} gives money to the BSA/BFA, Sheryl {housewife} gets a job, no way that plan can backfire….the BSA/BFA now pleads for cash. Members, including myself, see the garbage and say no.

  • Leo J

    Gabe Klein only focused on Chicago Divvy’s bike program and nothing else, hence why he was shoved out of Chicago.

  • Frances A

    Norton, don’t forget the biggest husband/wife exchange at the BSA, Stephanie Pollack herself. Both her husband and brother are BSA members. Husband/brother give money to the BSA, in exchange Stephanie is included in nearly every BSA component: AB Magazine, each transportation event, heck even the BTPR forum, and she wasn’t even part of BTPR! I understand the need for diversity at the BSA, but there are several local women far more qualified to speak about transportation design than Pollack.

  • David X

    Frances, Yes, and she exploits it at every turn. You should have seen the abuse Nick Caruso took. She mentally punched him whenever she wanted to [despite Nick being right and Steph being wrong] because of her family BSA contacts. It was horrible.