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?

  • Greg Mallis

    I liked the MIT work in one of the rooms. Some of the sustainable issues are interesting. However when I asked to see the director; was told he was home in Charlton, Mass,. Talk about a carbon footprint

  • Val Shen

    Heard the BSA may be closing due to a lack of funding. Hope to get up there before it shuts down

  • M Kimmelman

    Dear Val. You’re unfortunately correct. The BSA is hitting some rocky shores. Eric White is the new head: the same individual mentioned as the Charlton, MA director below. He actually posted a plea for help

  • 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

  • Jared Simms

    Matt, I was one of the individuals they asked for money, its pretty upsetting, the ED applauded himself and didn’t even mention the debts. Several have gone unpaid or underpaid for months

  • Paula Savin

    Jared and Matt, you should talk to Mike Davis, the old BSA President who selected the ED. He’s trying to put out the flames The ITDP has taken over most of the BSA initiative for yet another round of BRT lobbying. Not sure Mike knows about 28x (2009 ITDP Boston BRT push, unanimously rejected by the community

  • Mitch Davey

    The series organizer is still owed $10,000+. ITDP funds and organizes their own work, it will be interesting to see what Mike Davis does.

  • 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.

  • Michael Pollack

    Nichole. Its not the BSA, its the Barr Foundation. I guess ITDP didn’t inform them of ’09. Enrique Penalosa on behalf of ITDP presented in Boston four times. Very inspirational, and lots of attendees, but nothing came of it. 28X was born and quickly rejected, thousands of dollars wasted, thousands of hours wasted.

  • 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.

  • Dan Davis

    Immediately after Rights of Way comes down on the 26th (an exhibit ITDP wants nothing to do with) they plan to kickoff a full bike and BRT summer extravaganza at the BSA (Rail need not apply) How did this happen? The BSA executive director allowed it. A BRT promotion group is in charge of a transportation series…

  • Dan Davis

    And yes, Mary and Nathan are aware of ITDP’s BRT background/funding sources, It means Barr doesn’t have to pay a thing, nor the BSA. The drawback, the transportation series has become a BRT mouthpiece.

  • Barbara Lynn

    Dan, if that’s the case, Barr and/or the BSA should end the program this month and give whatever funding is left to the unpaid staff. June on can be cut. The state already has a 2014 master plan and Vineet Gupta already started the BTD master plan. There’s no need for additional ITDP talking heads from Cleveland (Cleveland!) and South Africa to talk about the virtues of BRT. Its been covered.

  • Roger O’Brien

    Barbara. That may be impossible. Barr yanked their funding support after ITDP bashed the rail concepts coming out of the series. The BSA initiative now relies on volunteers.

  • Pamela R

    Roger, there is no excuse for not paying your workers, period. Project managers, directors try it all the time with “vulnerable” individuals. This sounds like another “money saving” process by Barr.

  • 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

  • Haley S

    Stephanie Pollack is pushing the Gabe Klein event. She’s also exclaiming that Boston should pursue the World Cup instead of the Olympics to help with transportation. Someone should explain to her the WC is country-based not city-based, Boston was a US host city in ’94 and typically WCs don’t return for 30+ years, and that FIFA receives most of the profits. Personally, I cringe whenever I hear this individual speak, typically because her arguments are off

  • 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.

  • Joyce K

    It was confirmed earlier this week at AIA National (Chicago conference) what was mentioned in April at MIT (Rahm Emanuel lecture) Gabe Klein was booted out of Chicago. Why is the BSA giving him a forum? Plus, if the Mayor of Chicago presented a few months ago in Greater Boston, why do we need to hear from the fired director? It doesn’t make any sense.

  • Ken L

    Is the Gabe Klein – Steph Pollack ending forum entitled “How To Be Swiftly Kicked Out of the Transportation Sector?” Why is this lecture happening? It wasn’t on the final list.

  • Alex S
    Harriet Tregoning covered DC within the BSA speaker series back in April. Mayor Gray (DC) fired Klein and kept Tregoning.

  • Charles Z

    Gabe Klein left Chicago because he planned to start his own transportation company. 6+ months since his resignation, any word of such company, or can we finally call BS.

  • Judith M

    I just received a tweet, the Barr Foundation is marketing Gabe Klein as a guru…guru? in what? getting fired? This guy sends a dangerous message to our young professionals, just focus on the projects you want and forget about the rest. What is the BSA thinking.

  • 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”

  • Phil W

    Hopefully this lecture is cancelled sooner rather than later. Its probably not going to bode well for anyone, Gabe Klein drew only a handful of MIT students about two years ago [campus classroom presentation], and that was before his Chicago termination

  • David L

    11 were killed, 60 wounded in Chicago over the holiday weekend. Its probably not the right time to bring up the city as a precedent

  • Leo C
  • Tricia W

    The Chicago violence isn’t the only reason the BSA should cancel the Gabe Klein lecture. The team passed on Klein even before his Chicago termination; Stephanie Pollack was able to override the entire BSA group. First and foremost, Stephanie Pollack has no background in transportation design, planning, or engineering nor any accomplishments to her name. She’s a PHD law student who didn’t make it in the field of law .The city today has to suffer through endless Pollack rants about a field she knows nothing about. {Imagine taking a rejected PHD law student and having her scream at physicists all day about physics}. Thanks Northeastern.

  • Meg H

    I still remember when Nick Caruso presented the multiple unit rail concept at the BSA, and Stephanie Pollack screamed that Massachusetts would never ever ever consider such vehicles. Whoops. Apparently Nick was right, and Pollack was dead wrong

  • Rick M

    This Gabe Klein add-on lecture alongside the 3 hour T4Mass filler conference this morning embodies exactly why nobody touches Boston transportation. Whenever the issue is brought up, its immediately bogged down by a layer of cronysim and fluff . And to no surprise, Stephanie Pollack, the queen of filler, is behind both pointless events. I swear at this point there are more transportation advocates than transportation planners in Boston, time to scale back big time. If Pollack and T4Mass were gone tomorrow, Boston would be better off

  • Charles I

    Nothing like wasting hours hearing second-tier speakers contradict themselves about federal policy. thanks T4Mass. Barr would have been better off taking a pile of money and burning it. On that note. Gabe “you’re fired” Klein is in town!

  • Ann C

    I hope Barr has a looooong conversation with Stephanie Pollack. T4Mass, I like them, but yesterday’s Dukakis Ctr event was horrible. And to top it off, Gabe Klein, someone who was literally told by both his DC and Chicago bosses to get out of transportation, is speaking in Boston about “the future of transportation” thanks to Pollack, yikes, yikes, and more yikes. Ms. P really has to get out of the transport biz, asap.

  • 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.

  • Leonard C

    Stop, stop, stop with the comments, and leave “city hall” out of it. Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Newton, etc. no codenames, zero. The series is over, move on. If Ms. Pollack reads the writing on the wall, great, if not, tough. But just stop

  • Beverly D

    Everyone should take a look at the Klein lecture for one reason. It epitomizes the term “fluff presentation”. It looks good, it feels good, but its useless. If you yourself can put together the same presentation by combing the internet, its fluff. An whenever he threw out a number, he was off, all with the awkward “that’s it” silence at the end when the audience forgot to clap. Beyond the ULI members and Northeastern students filling the empty seats, the reaction was “why”. The answer, Stephanie Pollack. Mike, I have heard the term you’re referring to, but its not based in one municipality. I have noticed there isn’t one transportation initiative Pollack doesn’t force her way into, and why the resulting term. Once she’s in, the initiative gets bogged down, bloated, sluggish, and runs at a third of capacity. Its a major issue that needs to be addressed. I hope Barr has taken some good lessons from the event; and like every foundation and institution before, drops her. We have enough filler, we need more tangible advancement

  • Jon K

    Gabe Klein, the true businessman. Money spent for a presentation an undergrad could put together. The BSA and Barr must be happy getting bilked. Plus, I noticed T1-SPV didn’t apologize to Nick. In summary, an Overhaul recap. Caruso has a good idea; Pollack: Scream!, the idea gains traction: Pollack: SCREAM! the idea becomes tangible, Pollack SCREAM!!! SCREAM!!! Repeat about 5 times, the series ends, Pollack bloat afterwards.

  • Jon K

    I also liked the money beg after the event, maybe the BSA and Barr can get their money back from Klein

  • steve

    Frequently overhead at the Gabe-fest. 1. Wow, Gabe Klein is short…REALLY short 2. you’re not a planner, we get it 3. for fluke goverment work, he seems to show it alot 4. thats…that’s it? 5. he wasn’t paid for this right?…WHAT!!!

  • steve

    Oh yeah, and I remember hearing from two Northeastern students that they were forced to attend.

  • 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.

  • Wendi K

    For the record, I am STILL waiting for a response from the BSA’s housewife. 3 Months: Sigh

  • 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.

  • Liz H

    to David, based on the degree of filth she relays about Nick, he must have hit on something. Ms. Pollack is one bitter individual. Nobody can one-up her, but everyone does. to Frances and others, concerning the family exchanges, I’ll check it out. If true, its unfortunate. The BSA should know better

  • Vincent G,0,443201.story

    Chicago is a horrible transportation precedent for Boston, period. At least Rebekah Scheinfeld, Chicago’s new transportation commissioner, has acknowledged the red light camera scandal alongside the problems with the city’s biking and BRT proposals. Klein, no such luck.

  • Cory D

    Unfortunately the BSA transportation series ended with a thud. However, it was a good learning tool: what worked, what didn’t. With Ted Landsmark’s ouster, the pushback against architecture fantasy and a new focus on fundamentals has begun. The BSA and BAC are both in poor financial shape; probably time to “re-merge” and consolidate. Fire Eric White, trim the BSA junk, and move out of that hideous green stair space. Its such a shame the Boston AIA chapter space revolves around a dilapated feature stair …such a poor example for young designers.

  • Dave S

    Cory and others, yes x 10!!! the Rights of Way exhibit, the Urban Timber material, the Gabe Klein lecture, all pointless junk. BAC-BSA consolidation sounds good at this point. Plus, the BSA could possibly avoid a year of Timmy “It’s All About Me” Love.

  • Scott C

    The BSA is overrun with housewives and architects with trust funds. The board should fire Eric White, rehire him, and fire him again.

  • Martha Page

    The videos for the past BSA lectures are online. Don’t look now, but apparently Stephanie Pollack is more important than GM Scott and the national Brookings rep {see video image cap}. I wouldn’t even have picked up on it if it wasn’t for my kid asking “who is the guy with the perm”. How does Pollack end up in EVERY transit initiative in Boston? It certainly isn’t merit, she’s usually way off. Unemployed students who create transit maps for fun have more “transit experience” than she does. Is her BSA husband that powerful? Does she just scream until people’s ears fall off?

    • Marvin W

      This series turned into garbage thanks to Ms. Pollack and her never ending screaming. I’m sorry the field of law didn’t work out for her and its been difficult for her to get a job afterwards, but that doesn’t give her the right to scream at my staff nor anyone elses for that matter. She’s an unemployed lawyer posing as a “transportation expert”

  • Maggie M

    Steph Pollack is no longer screaming on her Twitter page. Hopefully its a sign of things to come. A Boston world without a suspended unemployed lawyer screaming at transportation planners about transportation. Please let it be true, Please.

    • Jamie C

      Sad to break the news, but Pollack is back on Twitter. She needed a vacation from her vacation

    • Julia

      Sadly she is screaming yet again.

    • Max H

      If its any consolation, Stephie ate some crow this week. Gabe Klein, the multi-fired entreprenuer that Pollack heavily promoting as someone who could help Boston transport, was announced as the “COO” of Bridj, the small local startup that provides bus service to rich people. Bridj is now actively working againt the city and state…karma for Pollack. The latest external data shows Bridj is even slower than the Green Line, so what do they actually provide? An exclusive private bus for the wealthy, that’s it. Bridj’s future slogan should be “Bridj, we hate sitting next to poor people”

      • Annie K

        Ha! That is classic. Karma is a B. Everyone is staying clear of Gabe after his Chicago firing (and DC firing, and Zipcar firing, and multiple startup failures, great pick!). The BSA is still spinning after being bilked, but Gabe at least has one friend left at the chapter. Sheryl Snyder, the rich BCEC exec housewife who “works” at the BSA adamantly approves of Gabe, I’m sure he and Bridj covet the endorsement. The second slogan could be “Bridj: preferred by rich housewives with way too much time on their hands”

        • Katie S

          Things always seem to work themselves out. Gabe Klein has as much transportation knowledge as an 8-year old and as much policy success as Segway. He’s the perfect individual to drag down the latest private-rich-bus-marketed as-smart-transportation gimmick. Even in Detroit, where Gabe was angling for a job after Chicago, nobody was buying what Gabe was selling.

    • Cheryl

      Although Pollack is still screaming, her reputation just plummeted with the Gabe Klein Bridj announcement. A $10 local bus ride is not transportation for all, and Bridj’s marketing video is a direct attack on the MBTA. Plus, if customers are saying “I’ll never use the MBTA again” it is not a “middle ground” between the MBTA and Uber, as the Globe put it. It’s a private shuttle bus for the rich, period. Pollack who wholeheartedly endorsed Gabe as someone who could help the MBTA, now has to scramble and spin. Gabe couldn’t find a public sector job after his Chicago termination, and is now back to pushing private bus startups; his record, 0 for 0

      • Jen La

        The Bridj team is full of BS, and now they have King BS at the top of their 5-person mantle. I saw one of their shuttles creep through traffic this morning just like everyone else. The investors would be better off establishing a PPP with the MBTA and putting the $4 mil towards the Green Line vehicle procurement.

      • Mark L

        Pollack, after praising Gabe Klein, is now staying clear of him; just like the rest of the transportation planning community. Bridj’s shuttle buses (imagine limos in shuttle bus form) inch along in traffic. When Bridj folds and Gabe is fired yet again, hopefully they can take Pollack with them. Pollack always seems to make the wrong choice (financing, “experts”, tech, etc.)