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Group wants to make performance space from shipping containers in Greenway

This rendering shows what the containers might look like.
This rendering shows what the containers might look like.(BostonAPP/Lab)

A group of architects, artists, and engineers wants to install a set of giant green shipping containers in the center of Dewey Square next summer, a project they say could transform the downtown park into an open-air performance and gallery space for free events.

The “ArtsCommons” idea, from the Boston Society of Architects’ BostonAPP/Lab, has the support of the group that maintains the public square, and planners say they’re rushing to raise enough money to start moving the project forward and scheduling events as the weather warms.

“We are going to aim to have this sucker done in time for May,” said Ron Mallis, director of the BostonAPP/Lab, the committee that hatched the plan.

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The group envisions using four massive, 10-foot-by-20-foot shipping containers — ordinarily used for maritime commerce — to act as stages, sculptures, theaters, and art galleries.

The containers would be easily movable via truck, so organizations could use them at other parks and venues, then return them to Dewey Square, near South Station.

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, which operates and maintains the square, has been talking to ArtsCommons organizers for several months about creating temporary installations, according to Charlie McCabe, the conservancy’s director of public programs.

“It’s an amazing group of people and we look forward to continuing to work with them,” he said.

As it works to finalize the details, the architects’ group is seeking money to support the project through grants and partnerships. Organizers believe the total cost will come in somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000.

Mallis said Dewey would be the perfect spot for the containers because it already played host to concerts like the city-supported Boston Calling “Block Parties” last spring.

The concrete space adjacent to the grassy field at Dewey Square is also home to food trucks and a regular farmers’ market.

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If the idea comes to fruition, Mallis said. the group will look to residents to weigh in on the programming on the containers.

“We will focus on Dewey Park as a kind of pilot, to really test out the efficacy of this,” he said. “We want to really hone this down.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.