Sara Pepitone | March 01, 2012
MASS Design Group has a project list that reads like a sign-up sheet for worldwide community service options. And that's not by coincidence. "MASS Design Group designs buildings and environments that improve health outcomes and strengthen local communities," says David Saladik, MASS's Haitian Country Director. "We believe this work is imperative because the poor deserve - exactly because they're poor - the best design and resulting design impacts to maximize social change."
MASS Design Group
Founders: Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks
Projects: healthcare, institutional, residential
In 2009, the Boston-based firm completed a Training Center for Village Health Works in Burundi, providing separate housing for staff and visitors away from the wards. In Rwanda, MASS will soon begin expanding and renovating a 1930s maternity hospital. Also in the works: a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Rwanda; a mixed-and-low-income housing project, Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks, in Rwinkwavu; and a doctor's housing project in the Burera District of Rwanda. The firm also completed a seven-building Girubuntu School in Kigali last July.
In Haiti, MASS is also working on a factory that will re-purpose waste into usable raw materials and consumer goods, and building a rehabilitation hospital designed by Shepley Bulfinch Architects. MASS is also building a $1.8-million Tuberculosis Hospital with Gheskio, the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections, which conducts research and provides training and solutions for all domestic public health issues. Designed by the firm on a sliding scale of fees, the facility will feature exam and X-ray rooms, offices, nurse stations, two pharmacies, and 29 patient isolation suites.
The firm estimates three times the usual amount of work to successfully complete a project in a resource-limited environment. To help cover the difference in costs, the firm raises money. But MASS has also come up with creative ways to be resourceful: sustainable materials such as compressed earth blocks are fabricated on-site by local workers, cutting down on shipping costs. Reducing the risk of airborne disease transmission was a primary design concern so the firm, in collaboration with Dr. Jean William Pape, Professor of Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Gheskio's Director and founder, developed an innovative design to maximize natural ventilation.
And that's just the beginning. MASS's future plans include working with Gheskio to renovate a nearby housing settlement.
Other members of the A&D industry are pitching in to enhance the lives of those less fortunate across the globe, too. Click the links below to see additional firms who are active in giving back to the community.