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Profile: Jonathan Merz

Name: Jonathan Merz
Job title and company: President, Merz Construction; Carlisle, Massachusetts


What are you working on now?

Currently we’re gearing up for the 2012 ABX show. We’re looking forward to the show being at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, close to our headquarters. Come by and visit us at Booth #723. Also, visit our new website:

We have a wide range of residential projects in the works right now in the Greater Boston area:

  • An exciting contemporary residence in Carlisle built on a radial grid pattern; the project includes a heavy structural steel frame, a stone exterior and a 130-foot-long curtainwall glazing system with a radial brise-soleil  
  • A complete restoration of a 1930s colonial In Concord, Massachusetts; the project also includes a variety of new-construction elements—a three-car carriage house with a pergola connecting to the main house, an outdoor pool and a pool house with a “floating” open corner—along with extensive landscape and hardscape development  
  • A complete renovation of a condominium unit in the University Green Building on Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square; the project includes extensive custom millwork
  • A complete renovation of a condominium unit in the Grandview Building [at] 165 Tremont Street in Boston, with contemporary millwork and details
  • Several other extensive custom millwork projects
  • Service and maintenance of our existing clients’ homes

Architect: Pisani + Associates Architects; Photography: Richard Mandelkorn

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

By now she knows it well. First it was more about the physical work and craft. Now we talk more about the people, the funny situations, the characters and the challenges. She has enjoyed going to see the projects under construction and going to see the finished results.

What inspired you today?

The very well articulated appreciation I heard from a client who really enjoys the collaboration of the entire team on her project. This type of feedback is very inspiring and fulfilling.

What architectural buzzword would you kill?

Buzzwords don’t give me any trouble.

When you’re working, do you discuss or exchange ideas with your colleagues?

Absolutely! Finding the balance between a productive exchange of ideas and productivity is important. Beyond that, the process and finished product is superior when we are fortunate enough to have a client that is a patron in the process, not just a consumer.

What are you reading?

Tom Kundig: Houses 2 [by Tom Kundig]

Do you sketch by hand or digitally?

Both. Sketching by hand and trace paper is where I start, and then we go to CAD for the development of shop drawings. I really enjoy being involved in the process of design development with the architects we work with. Working out the details, discussing means and methods, and collectively finding the best solutions while maintaining design intent bring real value to the client. Often good things come from this type of collaboration.

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

Yes, definitely. Getting to know many truly unique and diverse individuals comes immediately to mind. Our clients often have a wide variety of backgrounds, skills and talents, and it’s been an adventure getting to know and learn from them.

Can design save the world?

Save? It can certainly help and bring enjoyment and beauty to life.

What do you hope to contribute from your work?

Beautifully crafted projects, happy clients, happy architects who want to work with us over and over again, and a livelihood for our employees

Who or what deserves credit for your success?

The encouragement and belief my mother and father have always had in me; our talented and dedicated staff; plus, I am a precise, tireless worker. I have a high standard for myself and find that I keep pushing myself as I become more seasoned and knowledgeable in this business.

Your least favorite college class?


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

Trust and follow your initial instincts, [and] act on them accordingly.

Your favorite Boston-area structure?

The Zakim Bridge

If you were on a late-night TV show, what would your 30-second plug be?

To rally community support for people in need. So much waste, so many in need.

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

“Appreciate what you have, and enjoy the moment.”

Top image by Richard Mandelkorn.