Genius of Main Street

Designed by: ifp teen creatives 2018

location: kendall square

Clients: mit

Installation Date: may 2020


genius of Main Street

While conducting research for the Looking Glass, we stumbled upon the Entrepreneur’s Walk of Fame in Kendall Square. It was conceived in 2011, patterned after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to recognize trailblazers in the information age. Seven of the brightest minds in the history of business were recognized. The inaugural class included Bill Gates, Bill Hewlett, Bob Swanson, David Packard, Mitch Kapor, Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison. The goal was to keep such figures as Edison, the father of the incandescent light bulb, and computer software and hardware giants such as Gates and Jobs alive in the minds of students, tourists, and curious passersby.

The plan was that more names would be added each year. However, no more names were added after the inaugural class. Frozen in time was that initial group of 7 men. What kind of message was being communicated? One could only hope that by now a woman or person of color would have been honored on the walk. iFp was founded to inspire high potential diverse young people to develop the skills and mindsets to become a part of the innovation economy. It was obvious what our next project would be.

In 2018, we partnered with MIT to tell the story of Kendall Square’s inventive spirit in a more inclusive manner. From the first center-aisle train car to Thomas Watson and Alexander Graham Bell completing the first phone call, to invention of the Polaroid camera and now home of incredible innovative biotech startups, Main Street has been the central artery of Kendall Square. One doesn’t have to wander to far from the main boulevard to discover stories like Dr. Ronald McNair MIT-trained physicist and astronaut tragically killed in the failed Space Shuttle Challenger mission. He would walk across Main Street several times per week to teach karate class at St. Paul AME Church in the Port neighborhood in Cambridge. The Port is the most economically challenged neighborhood in Cambridge. Our installation will honor Dr. McNair and others who have helped Kendall Square become know as the most innovative square mile on the planet.

The Process

iFp Teens use our Integrated Creative Problem Solving (iCps) framework for all design challenges. Students start with ethnographic research tools to understand the problem being solved, synthesize the data to determine what’s most important, consider many ways through ideation and prototyping, then finally deploy a solution to delight and amaze our clients. During the process there is a significant collaboration between the Teens and many mentors. The final design is fabricated by a professional fabricator. The Genius of Main Street will be a two year project from conceptualization to installation.

Installation Status

Since our first meetings, the project has taken many twists and turns. As of September 2019, we are on track for a May 2020 installation. We look forward to telling the Genius of Main Street story in a manner that everyone can envision themselves as contributors to Kendall’s inventive spirit.

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