Boston MA

Uni portable reading room for Boston

BOS logoIn June, 2014, the Uni Project was a winner of Boston’s first-ever Public Space Invitational, a competition organized by Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.

For the competition, we proposed a portable reading room that would bring out the best in people and in neighborhoods, and also make public spaces more inviting, functional, user-friendly, and fun. We proposed that the reading room start on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, a 15-acre linear park in downtown Boston serving multiple neighborhoods.

Thanks to sponsorship from Robert Half, the new portable reading room kit launched on Saturday July 19, 2014 (photos!) and continues to serve Boston today. Thank you to Höweler + Yoon Architecture, who fabricated this portable reading room in their shop near the Greenway!

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy is a key partner in this Boston effort, and Conservancy staff manage the reading room’s schedule, locations, and programming. Another partner is the Boston Public Library, which offers information about library services and special programming. Students from Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences join Greenway volunteers to staff the reading room. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is supporting the project with a generous donation of books. Other supporters include: Candlewick Press, Institute of Contemporary Art, Diana Limbach Lempel, Massachusetts Historical Commission, Kimberly Sobieski.




BOS partners


Mayor’s Office Debuts Portable Reading Rooms by Uni Project
Jul 23, 2014 | Boston Magazine

Video–Maker Chats: The Portable Reading Room
Jul 23, 2014 | City of Boston

Mayor Walsh “Rolls Out” The Portable Reading Room
Jul 23, 2014 | City of Boston Press Release

Boston Gets Its First Pop-up Library
Jul 18, 2014 | Radio Boston/WBUR

Boston’s public art gets a lift
Jun 11, 2014 | The Boston Globe, Editorial

A simple way to add art in Boston
Jun 8, 2014 | The Boston Globe, Yvonne Abraham column

Boston’s Public Space Invitational winners announced
Jun 5, 2014 | Boston Magazine

9 bright ideas win funding to refresh Boston’s public space
Jun 5, 2014 | 90.9 WBUR, The ARTERY

Walsh announced winners of city redesign contest
Jun 5, 2014 | Banker and Tradesman

Coming soon to a public space in Boston near you
Jun 5, 2014 | Curbed

Contest nets new faces for public spaces
Jun 5, 2014 | Boston Herald

Contest aims to enliven public spaces in Boston
Jun 5, 2014 | The Boston Globe


Explore the Boston Uni’s collection, curated and donated by institutions and others:

Books from the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston

Neighborhood Explorers collection, curated by Diana Limbach Lempel

(More collection documentation coming soon)

Mayor Marty Walsh (l); William Driscoll, President, Robert Half (r)

Mayor Marty Walsh (l); William Driscoll, President, Robert Half (r)

Our blog posts about Boston:

Uni Project at work in Boston

New York is the home of the Uni Project, but Boston is in our DNA, and we stay connected. Here are a few Uni things going on up north. Making it in Boston The Uni Project sends our award-winning portable infrastructure all over the world, and much of that effort originates in Boston. Uni READ and DRAW kits for […]


Mayor Martin J. Walsh helps launch Uni for Boston

On Saturday, July 19, we were honored to launch a Uni portable reading room for Boston with help from Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The location was downtown’s Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, where this Uni will remain, popping up at different locations along the park all summer. The Uni was the first winner of the Mayor’s 2014 Public […]


Boston Public Library in the Uni

The Boston Public Library is a key partner in helping us make a place to gather around books on Boston’s Rose F. Kennedy Greenway this summer. The library contributed a great selection of children’s picture books, young adult books, and books for teens to read on-site at the new Boston Uni. Flyers about library programs can […]


ICA Boston contributes collection of art books for Boston Uni

Coinciding with the launch of a Uni portable reading room for Boston on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art put together a wonderful collection of 17 books that will remain on the Uni’s shelves for all of Boston to enjoy. Among the books is a retrospective catalogue on the work of […]


Neighborhood Explorers Collection in the Uni

More often than not, the way we move through the world each day falls into familiar patterns. This can be comforting, but it can also put us on a kind of mental auto-pilot. When we disrupt these patterns—say, when we travel to a different place or experience an interruption like a pop-up library—we gain “fresh […]


Hello Boston, Uni portable reading room is coming

*Update: Uni Boston will launch Sat 7/19 at 11am with a very special guest. Details here. Join us! ________ We’re pleased to announce that the Uni Project will launch a portable, open-air reading room for Boston’s 15-acre linear Greenway park this summer where people can sit, gather, and read great books. Last night, Boston Mayor […]


We're getting a "new" name... Street Lab.

The Uni Project is the work of Street Lab, a nonprofit launched in 2006 in Boston, where we created community-oriented programs for public space. In 2011, we migrated Street Lab to New York City and launched the Uni Project. The Uni began as a single, portable reading room and has since grown into a city-wide initiative offering more than 600 days of pop-up programming in 150+ public spaces across the city. In 2019, we are re-introducing our original name Street Lab to tie all this work together going forward, with much more to come.
For now, details about our programs are available here on the Uni Project web site. Soon, that content will move to Thanks for sticking with us!