MASS Design Group

“With key partnerships, locally based implementers, access to key services – housing, health, education – and thoughtful, locally based design, there is an incredible opportunity to tell a narrative of hope here.” – Michael Murphy, Co-Founder and Executive Director, MASS Design Group


MASS Design Group (MASS stands for Model of Architecture Serving Society) has made an international name for itself by creating innovative architectural solutions to serious community problems in several countries. With support from the Dyson Foundation, it is bringing its approach to Poughkeepsie.

The result will be the Hudson Valley Design Lab, a community design and innovation center with an eye towards reinvigorating the local economy, creating a culture of innovation, and stimulating reinvestment in the city.

“Very few of the struggling American cities have the institutional strength of Poughkeepsie,” says Murphy, a Poughkeepsie-area native. “It has amazing, sturdy institutional partners – the colleges, the hospitals, IBM – as well as easy access to transportation; and brilliant artists, activists, and entrepreneurs living in or around the area.”

The Hudson Valley Design Lab grows out of MASS Design Group’s social justice approach to architecture and design. This involves listening, immersing in a place, and seeking out the voices that are not always the first to speak. “We believe design is one tool to find value lying dormant in places, and that bringing new and diverse partnerships together can spark innovation to those hard, intractable challenges”.

“Our hope,” says Murphy, “is that the Hudson Valley Design Lab is just one of many catalysts to bring new partnerships into the region and allow for a re-envisioning of the region’s liabilities and assets to foster beauty, dignity, and new opportunities for all who live and work and love our region.”

The Dyson Foundation has provided multi-year general operating support to help MASS Design Group advance its community design work at a very local level. This grant falls within the Economic Vitality funding theme.