The William E. Carter Rain Garden was built by the students of Mass Art to meet two needs – they needed an intensive architecture project – and disabled students who were dropped off in wheel chairs needed to not get drenched during downpours. But it became so much more!
Here is how it was for the Carter school:
For years, Carter students with little or no mobility got soaked in inclement weather during the lengthy process of being dropped off and picked up by their buses. Principal Marianne Kopaczynski’s vision of a transportation shelter for her small school of 24 students was not a priority in a financially strapped urban school system struggling with high drop-out rates and low MCAS scores.
But that is not how it is at the Carter school any longer:
Within a few weeks, the architecture students came up with the idea of what they termed an “interactive rain garden,” one that channels water from the gutters into vertical rows of pint-sized silver buckets – and eventually, into the outstretched hands of Carter students who crave sensory experiences. They also created a xylophone-like rooftop, which would turn the rainfall into rhythms.
The structure would also feature rock-filled basins that provided another sensory experience for the Carter School students. They designed colorful seats – set at wheelchair level – for aides to use while waiting with students. In an environmental touch, they routed all the rainwater, eventually, into basins that nourish nearby plantings.
Mind you, the structure was hard work, and many of those students had to dig their first four foot holes, and learn how to lug heavy lumber – but the result improved the lives of real people, which after all, should be what the study of architecture is all about.
Well done, Mass Art – a welcome reminder that each of us can choose to make this world, our town, the lives around us better in so many ways.
And for you tax-meanies out there, other than the fact that we taxpayers are smart enough to support Mass Art, though not generously, not one penny of taxpayer money was involved.
How I wish as a society and by the choices of those who govern, we collectively spent more on higher education like Mass Art – and less on imprisonment. But that is another post, for another day.