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Legacy Circle: John A. Prokos FAIA

John A. Prokos FAIA
Managing Principal, GUND Partnership, Architects and Planners

Professional and philanthropic interests:

Creating transformative spaces for unique educational institutions and individuals, particularly engaging ones who are fun to work with! Philanthropic causes that foster these positive transformations in the world, especially involving young people.

What are you working on now?

The Quadrivium Center (science, technology, engineering, and math) at the Hill School in Pennsylvania and a terrific new complex of buildings at Westminster School in Connecticut including a beautiful new dining hall.

How do you/did you/would you explain to your mom what you do for a living? 

She already knew, since my father is an architect also.

What inspired you today?

[The] stock market crashing, so we really need to keep our clients happy!

What are you reading?

Actually, [I am] re-reading Slaughterhouse-Five  by Kurt Vonnegut. [I first read the novel for] a Cornell University freshman summer reading project. [I] do this every summer as an alum and enjoy seeing how we now compare the disorienting journey depicted in Slaughterhouse-Five to how we did back in college.

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

Many places, allowing me to see how a taxidermist works at a museum we were designing in Atlanta; experience a marvelous steak with developers in Houston; learn all about the intricacies of the performing arts from a theater consultant in London; listen to unbelievably sophisticated high school students helping to program a private school in Connecticut; and, closer to home, learn what a mechitzah is while designing an orthodox synagogue in Brookline.

What inspired you to support the BSA Foundation as a member of the Legacy Circle? 

Architects do not have enough of a public presence, even though the term “architect” is used generically in the communal realm to describe anyone who orchestrates a complex undertaking. The Foundation is getting the word out successfully and efficiently.

Thinking about the power of collaboration and design to change lives in Greater Boston, how can the Foundation harness that power to help build a better Boston?

Get young people involved in understanding design and how architecture improves their lives.

Can you remember the first time you understood the relationship between design and quality of life? 

Yes. One of my first and lasting memories as a very young child, holding my mother’s hand and walking into a local bank lobby, a beautiful rotunda space; I was astounded by how this public realm was celebrated in a way that was remarkable and memorable, even for a small child.

Who or what deserves credit for your success?

All the talented people [whom] I have been able to collaborate with over the last 35 years.

If you could give the you-of-10-years-ago (or longer) advice, what would it be?

Time passes quickly, so don’t waste it working with bad clients. (I’ve been lucky not to have had many of those.)

What do you love about Boston and why?

Few places [are] just the right size; it’s a beautiful, historic city on the ocean with close-by mountains and such friendly people (well, most of the time!).

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

“Love to one, friendship to many and good will to all,” both professionally and personally; I believe I actually saw this on a bumper sticker!