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Handy Dorceus, Northern Ave. Bridge Ideas Competition juror, pens guest blog post

Apr 19, 2016

Handy Dorceus is a senior at Boston Latin Academy and an aspiring engineer. When the Boston Public Market partnered with Artists for Humanity (AFH) to allow Boston teens working with AFH to design bike racks to represent the Market's themes, Handy’s design was chosen. The design still stands in front of the Market today.
As the youngest juror for the Northern Ave. Bridge Ideas Competition, we wanted to hear from Handy. In his guest blog post he touches on superpowers, valuing the voices of youth, and of course, the NAB competition. Read more below.

Have you ever wished that you had super powers? Like the ability to fly, become invisible, maybe even travel through time. Well I do, all the time. Life just seems like it would be much easier if I could wake up every day, snap my fingers to be dressed, or snap them and teleport to exactly where I need to be. You may be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, now that some of your creative juices are flowing trying to come up with the coolest superpower, let’s assume that you already have them. Suppose you had the ability to control matter, which essentially means you can turn anything into anything else. Imagine what you could do with this power, other than turning your unwanted belongings into stacks of cash, you could do some serious good.
As an aspiring engineer, this is how I like to think when I'm coming up with a new design because when there are no limitations to what can be done the mind tends to be a bit more open and elaborate. I encourage the designers and artists participating in the Northern Avenue Bridge Ideas Competition to design as if they have superpowers when coming up with their ideas. Building it in your mind, picturing what it looks like, imagining how pedestrians will utilize the bridge or how various vehicles will travel across it makes it much easier to come up with, the logistics can come later on.
During my time at Artists for Humanities I learned the most important aspects of design. Longevity was essential to keep in mind depending on how long the structure is intended to exist, which leads into materials. What materials are necessary to achieve the desired strength and mobility of the structure and how expensive are they? It is also important to keep in mind what the structure will be used for and how eco-friendly it is. In the case of a bridge, there may be designated lanes for pedestrians, bikers, and motorists. There could also be locations for solar panels to be incorporated into the design. In the event of a disaster, how do we ensure that the bridge is designed to be as safe as possible? Another important, but sometimes overlooked aspect of a structure such as this is aesthetics. Something is much more memorable and appealing to people if they enjoy looking at it. The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge is something that all Bostonians are familiar with. There is something beautiful and elegant in its simplicity, so designers should not be afraid to make their design look super cool.

It is a great honor to be a member of the jury in this competition, especially as the youngest. One very important value of mine is the voice of the youth and how unnoticed it can be. As a member of the youth in Boston I hope to be an example for my peers and other young people to show that we are capable of so much in spite of public perception. I hope to bring a unique perspective to the competition to make the selection process as open and diverse as can be.

For more information on the competition and other members of the competition jury, please visit, and be sure to join the conversation on Twitter using #NorthernAveContest!

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