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Jun 28, 2023

Calvin Boyd AIA, NOMA

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Calvin Boyd.

Photo by Masoud Sharikzadeh.

Associate, Payette

Professional or personal website:


Master of Architecture I, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, University of Southern California

Professional interests:

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Network; community-driven design; healthcare; exterior façades

When did you first become interested in architecture as a possible career?

I remember catching the bug at a very young age. My father worked for a housing company, and the idea of designing shelter and intimate places like home resonated with me.

If you could give the you of 10 years ago advice, what would it be?

I would tell myself to ask more questions and not be afraid to speak up—your perspective matters.

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Ambulatory Care Building at Boston Children’s Hospital Needham.

Image copyright Payette, Architect.

What is your favorite Boston-area building or structure?

I’m unsure about my favorite, but I do like to debate with nonarchitects about the beauty of City Hall.

Which one of your current projects excites you the most?

I am working on an outpatient hospital in Needham for Boston Children’s Hospital. This is my first time working on a project from design to construction, so I am super excited to see the finished product in 2025.

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Ambulatory Care Building at Boston Children’s Hospital Needham.

Image copyright Payette, Architect.

What has been your most proud moment as an architect/designer?

Becoming licensed last fall was an extremely proud moment. The process was 10 years in the making and felt just like I imagined: as if a weight had been lifted!

Have you won any award(s) from the BSA or another establishment? What elements from that project would you like to see shape the future of the profession?

In 2021, I received the James Templeton Kelley Prize from the BSA. The prize is awarded annually for the best final design project submitted by a MArch degree candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The project was a counter-memorial for victims of police brutality. I would like to see more memorial projects be catalysts for real change in the future.

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Project image.

Courtesy of Calvin Boyd.

What do you see as the largest barrier to equity in your profession?

The largest barrier to equity in architecture is the unequal distribution of wealth. This includes everything from who is able to afford an architectural education and practice on an architect’s salary to the startling lack of diversity in private real estate development.

What are some changes that you have implemented in your firm (or for yourself) to address issues of equity in your profession?

At Payette, we tackle issues of equity externally by regularly offering pro bono services to nonprofits and community partners that would otherwise not have access to quality design services. One great example of this is our annual MLK Day of Service, when we release an RFP for community projects. In January 2023, Payette took on four projects, one of which was a redesign of YouthBuild Boston’s exterior patio space and interior multipurpose room. More information about the project and YouthBuild’s mission to provide underserved youth with skills to successfully enter the design and construction industry can be found here: 2023 Day of Service—YouthBuild Boston.

Internally, the process of applying for and maintaining our JUST Label has led to increased equity. [The JUST Label is a voluntary program that compels an organization to take in in-depth look at their operations to assess their commitment to social justice and equity in the workplace.] Changes such as adjusting our family leave policy to provide equal time off regardless of gender, referencing the MIT Living Wage calculator to reassess intern compensation, creating a new Volunteer Time-Off policy, and more have come directly out of striving to be more transparent about our business practices.

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Project image.

Courtesy of Calvin Boyd.

If you identify as a minority, what are some ways your colleagues could help you feel more empowered at work and as an architect/designer?

By always empowering others to speak rather than speaking for them.

Tell us about your path to architecture and how it has impacted your career.

I have a minor in psychology and did a brief stint as a premed student while pursuing my undergraduate degree in architecture. During that time, I stopped pursuing architecture for a year when I perceived a general lack of concern for building inhabitants. Student projects were so focused on form that the human aspect of design was typically overlooked. I truly believe that people should be the focus of any quality design. As architects, the fantasies we envision are of little consequence if they are not relevant to the layperson.

I ultimately went back to studying architecture because I missed the studio more than I anticipated. I thoroughly enjoy design and felt that something was missing without it.

What do you see as the largest barrier to a zero-waste building, city, and world?

This may not be the largest barrier, but I do believe that changes in sustainable behaviors need to be incentivized at the individual level. A zero-waste world is unlikely if we are not all on board.

How has design improved your daily life?

Iterating is a crucial part of the design process for architecture. And as an architect, I also appreciate the benefits of applying iterative thinking to my own life. It has allowed me to be less hard on myself and more open to trying new experiences and approaches to life.

What are you reading right now?

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage; Collaborating with the Enemy by Adam Kahane; and Pretty Good House by Emily Mottram, Michael Maines, Daniel Kolbert, and Christopher Briley.

Have you had a memorable experience while working on a BSA initiative that you would like to share?

Running the BSA’s EDI Committee with Ashley Rao AIA, Silvia Colpani Assoc. AIA, and past co-chair Todd Pollock AIA has been a blast! I’ve grown under their mentorship while being able to do some good.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?

“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” —Kurt Vonnegut