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Profile: Dan Perruzzi AIA

Name: Dan Perruzzi AIA
Job title and company: Principal, Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA)
Degree(s): BFA (1978) and BArch (1979), Rhode Island School of Design

What are you working on now?
The firm is working on some very exciting projects: wrapping up new headquarters for Boston Scientific [and] designing workspace for Dassault in Rhode Island and Vistaprint in Waltham. I’m personally working with a number of returning clients, as well as a few exciting new ones. For whatever reason, most of my clients prefer to remain anonymous—I’m sure it has nothing to do with me.

How do you explain to your mom what you do for a living?
My mother is very savvy about the work I do. She has always been a big supporter and a great listener.

What inspired you today? 
The initiative and engagement of our staff here at MPA really inspired me today, and many days. They have boundless energy, boundless enthusiasm.

What industry buzzword would you kill? 
Cutting edge. Please, define that. One person’s cutting edge is another person’s old news.

When you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues? 
One of the great things about this profession is the variety of thought. I work in a firm partly because you can seek out those ideas and thoughts that make you consider the problem you are attacking in a totally new light.

The design of this global management consulting firm’s new Boston office enhances their collaborative and mobile culture, revealing a “Boston Modern” concept.

What are you reading?  
Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King.

Do you sketch by hand or digitally? 
By hand, but I quickly transition over to digital. I also continue to go back and forth between the two. I was one of the sketchers at the BSA/Learning By Design What the Sketch? event. No one will ever confuse me with a great sketcher, but I did get the point across.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect? 
Based on my education, there is no way that I could have anticipated how my career was going to unfold. I am lucky that the opportunities I did have led to some very interesting projects—public work, a significant public building (Boston Police Headquarters), and some wonderful workspaces for some of Boston’s leading companies. It’s all been—and continues to be—an amazing learning experience.

Where is the field of architecture headed?
It is certainly headed toward more virtualization. Clients want predictable outcomes, and by designing in virtual environments that allow the design to be tested, audited, and checked for performance, we can provide a greater degree of certainty about the final outcome. Clients need us to design in a way that allows them to fully experience the design, not use conjecture to figure out what it could look like; they need to know how much energy it will consume and how to dial that back through design options; they need to understand how well the lighting will work and be able to dynamically test options that reduce energy usage; [and] they need us to provide a digital model that allows all of the other project stakeholders to contribute to the design process. That means architects have to not only harness new virtualization tools but also think more broadly about what “design” means and who actually contributes to it.

Can design save the world?
Design can make the world better. We have finite resources. Design can teach us ways to use less of those and do it sustainably. Design can teach us to value our environments and spaces, and to overcome the isolation that many feel in an urban environment. That being said, I do worry that there are people and events that are immune to the power of design. [Russian president] Vladimir Putin may have some interest in design, but [he] has a greater interest in the power of his nuclear warheads.

The LEED-Gold global headquarters for this financial services firm required an international feel across all 15 floors to accompany spectacular views of the city and a high-tech conference center so Boston staff can communicate with others around the world.

What do you hope to contribute from your work?
I want to contribute architecture that does all the things that architecture did for me when I was younger. I fell in love with Boston because of its great buildings and its amazing public spaces. I recall writing a high school term paper in the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. It was an experience that changed my life. That building evokes calm, focused study. It elevates every act within it. I became an architect because I wanted to contribute to that legacy. I want to create buildings that enable those kinds of experiences.

Who or what deserves credit for your success?  
Certainly my parents deserve a lot of credit in that they taught me the value of hard work. The staff at Earl Flansburgh’s office, the first firm I worked at my first, actually taught me to be an architect. They allowed a young graduate like me to have real responsibility, but it was a lot of “sink or swim.”  There were many lessons learned there in those nine years, and I learned the most from my mistakes. You could say I learned a lot. I owe a debt to virtually anyone with whom I have worked because I learned something from all of them.

Your least favorite college class?
Statics in structural design—too many numbers.

If you could give the you-of-10-years-ago advice, what would it be?
Talk less, listen more. Plus, you might want to check out this company Google.

The award-winning design of this new LEED-Silver building for a healthcare insurance company includes a disaster recovery center, full-service cafeteria, conference/training center, childcare center, and 1,600-car parking garage.

Your favorite Boston-area structure?
The Boston Public Library in Copley Square. The exterior alone is wonderful, but the interior spaces are truly amazing, and the courtyard has a serenity that is difficult to find in any urban environment. And, as I said before, there is a personal bond I will never forget.

Who would you like the BSA to interview next? 
Sir Norman Foster

If you were on a late-night TV show, what would your 30-second plug be?
“He was born and raised in Boston, always wanted to design a prominent public building in Boston, did that, and now he’s a partner in a successful Boston architectural firm. Please welcome…”

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?
It would say “My outlook on life can’t be summed up on a bumper sticker” because it can’t. 

Headshot credit, Bruce Rogovin.