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Profile

Jun 22, 2021

David Hacin FAIA

HACIN headshot David Hacin

David Hacin FAIA

Image courtesy Gustav Hoiland / Flagship Photo.

President and Founder, Hacin + Associates

In celebration of Pride Month, the BSA is featuring Profiles on LGBTQ+ architects in the profession.

Degrees:

BA scl, Princeton University
MArch, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

What does Pride Month mean to you?

It means inclusivity, universality and, mostly, visibility. It’s very important that we all be constantly reminded of all the many groups [and individuals] that make up our city and community and ensure that no one feels marginalized or left behind for who they are as human beings.

Do you have any words of advice for LGBTQ+ students or emerging professionals who don’t see much representation in the field of architecture and design?

Be visible and comfortable with yourself! Most people are drawn to people who project self-confidence about their true self, and you are likely to find out there are more connections and representation around you than it might seem at first. Your boss may not be LGBTQ+, but their sister or son or best friend may be and there could be more understanding and support than you think.

HACIN Amagansett House

Amagansett House is a three-story vacation home in the Hamptons on Long Island. The new construction is secluded on over two acres of untouched woodland near the ocean.

Image courtesy Chris Cooper

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

My father was an architect in Switzerland, so I grew up with architecture in my blood and all around me. He always wanted to make sure I was pursuing the profession for the right reasons, so I was very happy when he recognized that I was as passionate about it as he was and started actively encouraging and mentoring me. A high school trip to Fallingwater sealed the deal. I was hooked.

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

Relax a little. Be yourself. Hard work and a commitment to quality yields results over time.

HACIN The Whitney Hotel

The Whitney Hotel is a new, 65-room boutique hotel in Boston’s Beacon Hill. The project comprises the historic John Jeffries House, originally constructed in 1908 as nurses’ housing for Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Image courtesy Chuck Choi

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?

Many places. Abu Dhabi, Paris, Wyoming. But what I really didn’t expect when I graduated from the GSD was that I would be so committed to Boston itself, a city where I had no prior ties at all. After almost 40 years here, I have fallen completely in love with the city and my South End neighborhood and feel very fortunate to have ended up in New England. For someone who didn’t know exactly where or how he fit in growing up, I found the perfect place to live and practice. In the end, getting married to my husband Tim in the state that pioneered marriage equality feels like I hit the jackpot

Which one of your current projects excites you the most?

I love them all but I’m very excited about our proposed development at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in the South End with Related Beal. The project adds affordable housing and senior living options to my neighborhood while leveraging the private development to preserve historic buildings, create public open space and, most importantly, allow the BFIT to build a new, state of the art facility in Nubian Square. It’s also at my doorstep so I have high hopes for the building design and for strengthening the local business and retail district.

HACIN Four51 PH

Located inside Four51 Marlborough, an H+A-designed luxury multifamily building, Four51 Penthouse is a two-story residence that was conceived as a “home base” for a couple and their extended family.

Image courtesy Bob O’Connor Photography

What does equity mean to you?

That’s a very big question but, for me right now, it means equal access to opportunity and to understanding what those opportunities can be. There cannot be true equity in the architectural profession until every young person growing up in any and every community can imagine themselves as an architect or a designer. Right now, too many young people have no exposure to design as a career at all. It’s not even on the radar. That’s very troubling to me because it is indicative of so many other inequities.

What is the most effective step you’ve taken in your work toward a more sustainable built environment?

Like many firms [hopefully all], we are taking a close look at how to be better advocates for sustainable practices to our clients and collaborators. We have set up an H+Green task force and are trying to push beyond the new standards that communities like Boston have been implementing. However, our practice has always been deeply imbedded with preservation and the adaptive reuse of existing structures, which is foundational to the very definition of the word ‘sustainable’. Reuse the past; Build for the future and build to last.

What is the greatest potential for architecture to shape a neighborhood community?

I genuinely believe that communities are shaped by countless factors that eventually ‘add up’ to something special and unique – of which architecture is only one. Recognizing and strengthening the best qualities of a neighborhood with a series of thoughtful, incremental interventions [a great restaurant, a new park, a well scaled housing development, a community amenity or service] is usually more powerful and authentic than one big, top down move. On the other hand, a truly great and well programmed piece of architecture can give a community identity and purpose. In short, it depends.

HACIN Shore Leave

Shore Leave is a cocktail bar and restaurant in Boston’s South End. The ‘tropical escape’ is located about 20 feet below street level and serves as a destination for guests to escape and enjoy.

Image courtesy Bob O’Connor Photography

What architectural buzzword would you kill?

It’s usually not the words themselves but how architects use them to explain their work. I recently tried to read some parts of a Venice Biennale catalogue and had to ask myself whether the architects and academics writing these project descriptions wanted to be understood by the public at all. That is a problem. We should be aiming to demystify and clarify, not the opposite.

If you could redesign anything, what would it be?

The Electoral College system.

What would you like to see change about Boston’s built environment?

I would like to see more emphasis and investment in the public realm. If Boston really is America’s “most European” city, maybe we should take a page from their commitment to building better streets, pedestrian areas, bikeways, parks and public infrastructure. Private development and developers should not have to bear that burden without a strong public financial commitment.

HACIN 83 Gardner St

83 Gardner Street is a four-story, 38-unit apartment building in Allston. The project is the first phase of Packard Crossing, a residential development that provides moderately-priced housing for the community, creates new connections in green spaces, and unifies the surrounding neighborhood.

Image courtesy Bruce T. Martin Photography

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