District Hall is a work in progress.
But what makes the place special, more than its location, is its open-ended nature. It's an organizational and architectural question mark, asking for participation. Asking to be surprised.
- Virtually all the walls are whiteboards, painted with IdeaPaint;
- Conference and meeting rooms of all sizes (small to large) line both sides of the building;
- The center of the facility hosts comfortable chairs and scattered worktables;
- A nook at the far end of the space is reserved for pop-up enterprises;
- Free WiFi, of course;
- A coffeeshop and a bar/restaurant on site
The point of the whole place can be summed up in one word: "innovation." That's a big, woozy goal, difficult to capture and foster. But District Hall is trying to corner it, from every possible angle.
If you're skeptically inclined, you might react cynically to these trappings and programs, the ones that shout "innovation!" But think about it: What's the alternative?
And the reward if these current innovation "best practices" pay off: undeniable -- for cities, and communities, and individuals.
That's why the City of Boston helped jumpstart District Hall, and why it's maintained by CIC, the Boston-based VC-plus-workspace company, and the big real estate developers in the Seaport neighborhood.
That's also why, personally, I'm all in when it comes to "innovation" -- as a goal and an organizing principle -- to the point of being uncritically enthusiastic. There's too much potential upside to be a wet blanket.
And when I took the official Tuesday tour one rainy morning, led by Program Manager Sarah DeSimas, I got the impression that many of my fellow believers were hanging out here -- exactly the people I was looking for after a few months of trying to entice chocaholics with tech challenges.
Sarah's message: District Hall is all potential, waiting for you.
So, naturally, I immediately started hatching a project: a variation on Detour Flag Guy, and the Taza Spinning Paper Image of a Granite Grinding Stone, with a new augmented reality (AR) component.
Why add AR?
Because the Apple iPhones 8 and X had just come out, loaded with AR capabilities, and potential (Apple CEO Tim Cook had been touting AR for months before the new phones were released), and I had recently upgraded from a my dying iPhone 5.
District Hall seemed like a perfect location for an AR reality check.
- I started stopping by District Hall, mostly during lunch, and trying out one AR app after another; and
- I sharing a Google Doc in progress with Sarah DeSimas at District Hall. Working title: "The Mixed Reality Challenge."