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Apr 18, 2024

David Silverman, AIA

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David Silverman

Photo by Paige McWhorter.

Principal, STA Design

Professional or personal website


Bachelor of Architecture, Boston Architectural College

Professional interests

Impact, Education, Sustainability

BSA involvement

Vice Chair, BSA Foundation Board

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

My Mom always told people that I knew I was going to be an architect from when I was a young boy. While in high school I went on a field trip to a couple of office towers in Providence including the famous “Superman building” and came back inspired.

Who or what deserves credit for your success?

I’m thankful for learning about the Boston Architectural College after I graduated high school. Their low tuition and open enrollment model allowed me to turn my passion into a profession. I’ve stayed involved at the BAC since graduating in a number of leadership rolls including their alumni association, board, and as an educator chairing their thesis committee. I’m also so appreciative to many of my former bosses and mentors, my parent and my in-laws, and of course my wife and business partner Felice, for my success.

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

The biggest surprise on my career path was a job I had at MIT in their Department of Facilities. I was an in-house architect there for 4 years working on classroom renovations, libraries, customized lab spaces to support researchers in many different departments, and spaces for music. While there I also spent about 6 years as the Senior Project Manager for Design on the Ray and Maria Stata Center by Frank Gehry’s office. That job and the experiences I had there taught me two valuable lessons; first, it humbled me as a young architect and taught me the importance of architecture as a service. There is nothing like working directly for the smartest scientists and researchers in the world to help one appreciate a client’s needs. Second, I learned the importance of being a good client and experienced what it was like to be a client. This is something I think about every day when we meet with our client partners.

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

I am most proud when we hear from clients about the impact our design has had on their organization. We have done work for many different sectors including non-profits, daycare centers, music spaces, incubators for robotics and climate tech spaces, and building repositioning looking to attract start up companies doing innovation work. For spaces for children, we are proud to learn that the space has a positive impact on the children and teachers. For clients such as MassRobotics (robotics incubator) and Greentown Labs (climate tech incubator, pictured below) we are excited to learn of the successes of the companies using the space as they invent the future. We are proud to work with clients that are having a positive impact on the world and excited to be a part of that.

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Photo by L. Barry Hetherington.

People volunteer for a variety of reasons. If you have volunteered with the BSA in some capacity, what did your volunteer path look like, and what motivated you to become involved?

While in junior high school I learned how to do mechanical and architectural drafting and saw a connection between my love for art and drawing and a career path. That experience inspired me to pay it forward and I have always sought out opportunities to help young people. I have done volunteer work with the Historic Neighborhoods CityBuild program, founded a non-profit that provided programs for young people, and became involved in Learning By Design, a non-profit with close affiliation with the BSA. This program eventually became a part of the BSA Foundation’s programming and I joined the Foundation board. In addition to being the Vice-Chair of the BSA Foundation Board, I’m also the Vice Chair of an AIA National K-12 Integrating Design Education through Architecture (IDEA) Advisory Group. Our goal with that group is to create a new Knowledge Community at the AIA that provides a centralized network for maintaining, developing, and sharing architectural design and education best practices.

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

I always tell young people not to decide what they want to be when they grow up because the possibilities are ever changing and exciting. Our profession is a great one if you like constant change!

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

STA’s mission, in everything that we design, is to make people’s lives better through design. Our goal is to positively impact each and every person we encounter, and to help build communities that thrive. Our design process is inclusive and equitable, engaging people in open conversation; listening with empathy to their goals and ideas; respecting and valuing all perspectives.

To do this we have regular conversations at our Friday Living Labs that reflects the diversity of our studio and provides everyone on our team with a voice to share their unique perspectives. These Living Labs happen at the end of the day on Friday and allows everyone in the studio to present a topic that is of interest to them. In addition, we have a feature on our website called the Gazette that allows our team members to publish regular blog posts, again so that they can share their unique voice.

There is no STA without our team, an amazing group of architects and interior designers. We love that we have a team from diverse backgrounds - each team member’s opinion and ideas are valued equally. We work hard to foster an equitable, inclusive culture and design process, and build cultural awareness and empathy amongst our team.

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The STA team, photo by Paige McWhorter.

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

I recently became a member of the NESEA (Northeast Sustainable Energy Association) Bottom Lines group that provides a peer coaching and business development program for business owners. The premise is to help everyone involved improve their triple bottom line (People, Planet, Profit). In my opinion, NESEA is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable organizations when it comes to sustainability and resiliency and I’m appreciative of the opportunity to learn from them.

Who do you most enjoy partnering with on community projects?

I remember being inspired by Citizen Architect, a film about Sam Mockbee and the Rural Studio in Hale County, Alabama. The students in that film worked closely with people in the community to realize the best designs for their homes and community spaces because they took the time to listen to what mattered to the people that would eventually use these spaces. Towards the end of that film they interview a very famous New York architect who basically says that people don’t know what they want and that the architect’s job is to create architecture that they can enjoy. While a fair counterpoint, and certainly an opinion that many architects can agree, I’ve always been of the opinion that the best projects are those that include deep client and community involvement.

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99 Bishop Allen Drive, a renovation project for the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority.

Photo by Paige McWhorter.

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Photo by Paige McWhorter.