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Four celebrations

2017 is a year of landmarks.

On June 20, 1867, about 50 Boston area architects came together to sign the articles of association creating the Boston Society of Architects (BSA). The BSA was created 10 years after the inception of the American Institute of Architects (February 23, 1857), when 13 architects met in the office of Richard Upjohn to “elevate the standing of the profession.” By the 1880s other AIA chapters had launched in Albany, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington, DC. One hundred and fifty years later the BSA is the second largest local chapter with over 3,000 professional architect members and over 4,000 members overall. More importantly, the BSA has earned a reputation nationally and locally for fostering design excellence and building better communities.

2017 will also mark the 25th anniversary of KidsBuild!, which was the brainchild of a volunteer group of architects who were challenged to come up with creative programing for the 1992 AIA National Convention that was to be held in Boston. One of the goals was to engage the children of attendees. They created an event at the Museum of Science where children designed and built their own small buildings and placed them on a mini-city grid. The program was so successful it became an annual event and now, through demand, has expanded to become a two-day extravaganza. KidsBuild! is a cornerstone program demonstrating the BSA’s commitment to the Foundation’s work of engaging children through Family Design Days, Learning by Design, and many other family activities.

The first issue of ArchitectureBoston (AB) magazine was published in the summer of 1998 (this is the 19th anniversary, but the 20th year of publication). Over time, its articles have ranged from weathering economic cycles, to using 3-D CAD, architect interns, the history of TAC, using AIA contracts, wall-to-window interfaces, and an exploration of best practices for policy leaders in the Boston region. Contributors have included some of the BSA’s most influential leaders, then and now, including AB’s first editor Elizabeth Padjen FAIA, Arthur Cohen FAIA, Roger Goldstein FAIA, Paul Nakazawa AIA, Wilson Pollock FAIA, Ed Tsoi FAIA, Geoffrey Langdon, Evan Shu AIA, George Takoudes AIA, Norman Fletcher FAIA, Carol Burns FAIA, Chuck Heuer FAIA, Chris Noble Esq., Richard Keleher AIA, David Hacin FAIA, Jean Caroon FAIA, David Gamble AIA, William Rawn FAIA, Tamara Roy AIA, and many more. Like the BSA and the profession itself, AB has greatly evolved over the years, and now, under the editorship of Renée Loth with Fiona Luis, often functions as a bridge between big ideas, policy, and practice.

On February 14, 2012 BSA Space officially opened to the public at the opening reception for its inaugural exhibition, In Form, curated by over,under. We actually moved into our new Atlantic Wharf headquarters (designed by Höweler + Yoon and constructed by Commodore) in December 2011, but used the subsequent months to settle in before inviting the public to visit. The decision to leave the Architects Building at 52 Broad Street meant a shift from owning to renting and was not lightly undertaken. We can probably never properly thank the many, many members and other leaders who participated in the evaluation and decision-making phase. Ultimately, all (or nearly all!), parties agreed that we could not afford to miss this opportunity to move into a location that enabled the organization to be public facing while also providing more services and space for members.

Recently a friend from AIA Illinois was touring the city with his wife and her brother, who works in Boston’s financial district. As they came to the corner of Atlantic and Congress, the brother-in-law from Boston stopped and pointed down the street. “You see that place—BSA Space? That is the coolest place in town. Great programs, talks, films, and exhibits on architecture.” My friend said–“Wow, you know the BSA? I work for AIA Illinois and our dream is to have people know about us and think that what we do is cool.” His brother-in-law said– “Just do what they’re doing—it’s the coolest.”


Eric White, BSA and BSA Foundation executive director

Header image: Fireworks, modified. Credit: AngMoKio. Headshot courtesy of Ben Gebo.