Discussions in and about the Boston Seaport

The Salon is a partnership between MITdesignX and Cottonwood Management, developers of the EchelonSeaport mixed-use project in the Boston Seaport.

The salon series is a special continuing conversation about technology, design, and the future of Boston.


Adaptation to Climate Change

March 21, 2023

As the planet endures more eventful weather patterns and seemingly irreversible rising sea levels, what can we do to prevent damaging erosion and threats to the livelihoods of residents in coastal lands, here on the front lines of climate change?

Prof. Skylar Tibbits, MIT Department of Architecture; Co-director and founder of the MIT Self-Assembly Labpresents “Growing Islands” – methods for collaborating with nature to build rather than destroy and finding natural processes for sand accumulation to help vulnerable coastal communities

Prof. Mary Anne Ocampo, MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Principal, Sakaki Associates presents “Eastie Imaginaries” – how East Boston’s evolution as a coastal neighborhood is confronting climate change



Dynamic spaces: design for modern living with IoT, AI and programmable materials.

Sept 10, 2019

Home, work and institutional environments in the 21stcentury require a new set of design fundamentals. They require spaces that can change and react according to multiple and fast-changing needs and environments. The design standards of just a few decades ago have become irrelevant as the fluidity of functions, boundaries and ownership demand design aided and directed by computation, data and connectivity. In this session, we engage in conversation with leading researchers and innovators who are envisioning and programming the spaces of tomorrow.



Boston: City as an Experience

April 30, 2019

In addition to their roles as centers of industry and power, cities are also centers of human activity. From Austin’s SXSW to New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail, cities are increasingly finding their role as a platform for events, and building their brand as an instigator of celebrations. Never before have creation and promotion experiences been so crucial to urban living, as these events are increasingly being used as a recruiting tool and in the production of a global identity, in addition to bettering the quality of life for its residents. In this session, we investigate how Boston is serving as a platform for events and experiences, big and small.


Technology and Movement of Food

Oct. 9, 2018
[Part of HUBWeek]

While its original role was as a port, the Boston Seaport today is a vibrant neighborhood, filled with culture, people, and, of course, food. The third session of the salon series is a discussion on the ways in which we get our food today. Farmers markets abound throughout the city and restaurants tout their local food bonafides, but getting food to people where they need it, when they need it, in an economical way, and avoiding food waste, remains a challenge.

In this salon, moderated by Cynthia Graber, host of the popular Gastropod podcast, the participants will discuss the challenges and opportunities for businesses in the current food landscape. Can technology solve our local food delivery and waste problems? Can companies do so while ensuring nutritious food for the people who have the least access to it? Where does the current system fall short, and what opportunities lie ahead?​


Urban Mobility​

May 24, 2018

In its history, Boston has served as a laboratory for mobility solutions. It was home to America’s first Subway and ambitiously buried an Interstate highway while it was still in use. Its historical ports and sailing ships made the city a hub of trade, and its modern parks and paths make us “America’s Walking City.” Yet, how does Boston prepare for the transportation challenges of the future when its first roads were laid nearly 400 years ago? In the second session of The Design Salons at Echelon, we investigate how Boston will survive and thrive in light of technological and social change, and question how the city will continue to serve as a laboratory for creative mobility solutions.


Water: A Pipeline for Innovation

Jan 24, 2018

Boston has long relied on water for its economic, social and physical vitality. From Long Wharf’s colonial stretch into the Harbor for an economy based on trade and shipping; to the damming of the Charles and the filling in the modern footprint of the city to create the spaces in which we live work and place; to research and startups that leverage water as a source of innovation and engineering marvels, our relationship with water has formed our identity in many ways. Water has been – and continues to be – a source of inspiration and change.


For more information please visit the Series Website