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Blue Marble Circus on view at the 2017 Design Biennial Boston

DESIGN EARTH, the design practice of Assistant Professor Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy, is among four design firms selected as winners of the 2017 Design Biennial Boston, which seeks to support emerging architects, landscape architects, and designers from the New England area and provide a platform to test their ideas in the public realm.

Four installations are on view along the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston through October 10, 2017. This year the installations build on the Greenway’s Playful Perspectives theme. “This fifth installment of the Design Biennial Boston brings a mix of new voices to The Greenway, reflecting diverse backgrounds, a merging of academic and professional interests, and a remarkably broad set of design aspirations,” explains Chris Grimley of over,under/pinkcomma gallery, one of the exhibition’s curators. “The Design Biennial Boston offers a platform for New England’s new design talent, but it also reminds us of how we should draw more often on such innovative thinkers to respond to the challenges all communities will face in the future.”

From Design Earth:

Blue Marble Circus is a monument to industrial humanity’s plastic footprint, which—although at a planetary scale—remains outside our geographical imagination. The installation appropriates Rome’s ancient Pantheon, known for its spherical “architecture of the cosmos,” to take aim at the dissonance between our individual worries and the vast environmental transformations the Earth is undergoing.

The geodesic sphere echoes “Blue Marble,” the iconic symbol of the environmental movement. All white inside, its plastic material expression invites another imagination now that greenhouse gases and greenhouse agriculture are at the forefront of planetary issues. The blue shrink-wrapped globe is also a camera obscura, an optical device that projects site-specific views of the surroundings into the chamber. The greenhouse miniature of the world is hence an architectural invitation to re-learn, like Atlas, how to carry the world—and all there is above it—on our shoulders.

The Design Biennial was initiated in 2008; the 2017 Biennial marks the fifth iteration of the Biennial. Previous faculty winners include lecturers Marie Law Adams, Joel Lamere, and Cristina Parreno, Assistant Professor Brandon Clifford, and Associate Professors Ana Miljacki and William O’Brien Jr. 

Blue Marble Circus received additional support from the MIT School of Architecture and Planning Dean’s Office and the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology Fay Chandler Faculty Creativity Seed Fund. The Design Earth Project Team includes Aaron Weller and Larisa Ovalles (Conceptual Design); Justin Lavallee, Christopher Dewart, Cristina Clow, Lex Agnew, Rawan Al-Saffar, Ching Ying Ngan, Marc Smith, Sabrina Madera, Michael Epstein, Paul Short, Jongbang Park, Xin Wen (Fabrication); Paul Kassabian, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger; Lee Zamir, Tom Gearty (Optics Consultants); Athena Moore, Taylor Tobin, Adam Allard (Autodesk BUILD Space); and Jim Harrington, Jennifer O’Brien, Seth Avecilla, and Maria Moran (MIT Facilities and Staff Support).