Mather School Green Space Improvement Project

Mather School Green Space Improvement Project:

A permanent public art project for the Mather school yard.

The City of Boston’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust and the Boston Art Commission, working in collaboration with Boston Public School Department and the Mather School Parent Council sought artists to create a permanent public art installation inclusive of landscape improvement.

The new green space is proposed for northwest corner of the school property, near the intersection of Church Street and High Street. The green space will flank the granite staircase that provides access to the school from this direction.

The site is generally used as a waiting area where parents pick up their children. The area is highly visible, very active and serves as an important bridge between the school and the surrounding neighborhood. The aim of the project is to transform the existing space and surroundings into a more welcoming, comfortable public site and functional school entrance.

Three finalists were selected to submit a design proposal for this project. This webpage features the designs and allows for feedback.  Please review the proposals and leave a comment. Your input will be conveyed to the artists and architects. Community input is vital to the success of this project, your assistance is appreciated.

Mather School Green Space Project – RFP


Mather Elementary School Green Space Improvement Project, Boston MA

 Request for Finalist Proposal

Submitted by invitation of the jury panel to
Adam Kuby
Bill and Mary Buchen, Sonic Architecture,
Scott Constable and Ene Osteraas-Constable, WOWHAUS,


Project Summary

The goal of the Mather Elementary School Green Space Improvement Project is to create a permanent public art installation inclusive of landscape improvements on the grounds of the historic Mather School in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. This project is a collaborative effort between the City of Boston’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust (BF), the Boston Art Commission (BAC), the Boston Public School Department, the Mather School Parent Council, and the Art Selection Committee of the Green Space Improvement Project.


Brief Overview of the Mather School

Founded in 1639, the Mather Elementary School celebrated its 375th anniversary in October 2014. The School has the distinct honor of being the first public elementary school in North America. The mission of the Mather School is to educate and empower all children to reach their potential through academic and socially enriching experiences. In the current school year, 620 students from 82 countries attend the Mather. Vietnamese, Cape Verdean Creole and Spanish are the three most common languages other than English spoken by the students at the Mather.

The current Mather building is a Dorchester landmark at the top of Meetinghouse Hill. Built in 1904, by renowned architects Cram and Ferguson, the school’s features show the value placed on public education by the citizens of Boston at the turn of the century. The Mather is filled with unique architectural and historical features—dramatic arches, the seal of Boston, and statues in classrooms and common areas. The Mather is a showcase for public education and remains a stately beauty.
Site Description

The permanent project will be located at the Church Street entrance of the building, a location generally used as a waiting area where parents pick up their children. The area is highly visible, very active and serves as an important bridge between the school and the surrounding neighborhood. The aim of the project is to transform the existing greenspace and its surroundings into a more welcoming, comfortable public site and functional school entrance.

The Mather Elementary School, a Boston Public School, sits in a residential neighborhood at the top of Meetinghouse Hill with views of the Atlantic Ocean from the top floors of the building. Project site is the sloped green space next to the Mather School’s Church Street entrance, where students who walk to school enter the building and are picked up by parents at the end of the day. The 4,500 parcel measures approximately 60 by 75 feet. To its left, a wide staircase leads up to the north façade of the School building. The site abuts the School’s basketball court above. The landscaping currently suffers from neglect and features a deteriorating retaining wall as well as several wooden benches, which can be moved.


Design Criteria

The successful design should:

  • Provide a smart, thoughtful and detail-oriented design that will lead to a safe, comfortable space for parents, students, and community members to gather;
  • Create a welcoming space for parents to pick up their children and engage with other parents;
  • Attract residents of Meetinghouse Hill to the school grounds so they gain more accessibility to the school and to each other, thus building a greater sense of community;
  • Provide an inspirational learning space that will be used for activities such as creative writing or reflection by students;
  • Celebrate the area’s cultural richness, the access to education and civic engagement, also with an eye toward the historic role of the Mather School as the country’s first public school, which was initially funded by imposing a tax for grazing cattle on Thompson Island;
  • Adhere to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines;
  • Be low maintenance and made of long-lasting materials;
  • Apply sustainable design methods and principles.

The final design will be developed by the selected artist/designer/team, in consultation with the Boston Art Commission. The design may feature landscape design, seating structures, lighting features, sculptural features, and elements that encourage social interaction. Best practices of sustainable design will be applied.



The project will be funded in part by the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund, a public charitable trust administered by the City of Boston Trust Office. The total anticipated budget for fabrication and installation is $200,000.


 Proposal Development Fee

Each finalist will receive a $3,000 honorarium for initial concept development and presentation.

Anticipated Timeline

Tuesday, October 6, 6-8pm               Public presentation of proposals to Art Selection Committee

TBA – Fall 2015                                  2-3 week public exhibition of proposals

TBA – Fall 2015                                  Artist selected to develop final design

TBA – early 2016                                Selected artist presentation to Boston Art Commission


Proposal Requirements

NOTE: Please forward digital files and a hardcopy of the proposal. Printed materials should be in 8 1/2” x 11” page format.


  • Artist statement of intent, description of project, concept and approach
  • Proposed schedule or timeline for design and fabrication
  • Proposal development invoice (including federal ID or social security number)


Project Information

  • Context map or aerial photo showing surrounding neighborhood (1/4 mile radius)
  • Site plan
  • Schematic drawings/sketches
  • Basic model, maquette or rendering showing 3D representation of the art in context of surrounding site
  • If more than one art element, indication of hierarchy of elements and relationship of the pieces to each other and the site
  • Indication of materials
  • Initial line-item budget
  • Maintenance considerations



The proposal is due at the public presentation to the Art Selection Committee on DATE ________________. The meeting will last approximately two hours and include a presentation and question-and-answer period. Project liaisons will be in touch to arrange scheduling details.



Christina Lanzl, Consultant, Urban Culture Institute or 617.319.9383


 Background Documentation

Attachments: site photos, Boston Art Commission guidelines

Plans: Original Site Plan and Boston Schoolyard Initiative plan of recently completed Outdoor Classroom on the school grounds

Additional information on the Mather School can be found at

See a Google map.


 Terms of Agreement

The artist submitting the work is the sole creator of the work and holds the copyright of the work being submitted. With the exception of use of others’ works, which constitute fair use, the commissioned art work will contain no material from other copyrighted works without the written consent of the copyright holder(s). The submitting artist will obtain such consents pertaining to the use of any and all copyrighted material at their own expense and will file them with the City of Boston upon delivery of the work. Any obligations associated with permissions pertaining to the use of copyrighted work will be the sole responsibility of the submitting artist. Applicants’ support materials may be used by the City of Boston for promotional and publication purposes only. Including them in the application grants the City of Boston permission to do so. If used, all work will be properly credited and cited.


More information – Mather School Green Space Improvement Project

For more information go to Christina Lanzl and the Urban Culture Institute at the link below: