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Jan 11, 2024

Sam Batchelor AIA

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2024 BSA/AIA President Sam Batchelor

Photo by Cat Laine.

Partner, designLAB architects

2024 BSA/AIA President

Professional or personal website:


M.Arch University of Washington, B.A. Yale University

Professional interests:

Sustainability, Fabrication

BSA involvement:

Member since 2009; Membership Committee, Nominating Committee, Board Member, Current President.

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

My parents are architects and landscape architects, so it’s something I’ve always been aware of, but it wasn’t until college that I seriously considered it as a career. I had really enjoyed several sculpture classes, but desired something more grounded in problem-solving and found it in architecture.

What is your favorite Boston-area building or structure?

The Saarinen chapel at MIT.

People volunteer for a variety for reasons, what has your volunteer path looked like within BSA, and what motivated you to become involved?

Architecture is a tough field, and I’ve always been extremely grateful for the community of architects in Boston that transcends age, firm, and any other affiliation to support each other, share resources, and see the humans behind all of our situations. I’ve benefited from that quite a bit personally, and I got involved at the BSA to help continue that culture of support.

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

A few years ago we designed an environmental education center in Amherst, MA. It is a living building challenge project and included a lot of design elements aimed at engaging children and making the sustainable strategies we used accessible to them. At the opening it was great to see my kids running around and enjoying the space in many of the ways we had imagined. It felt like a very circular experience with a lot of the things I had learned through the process making their way back to them through the design.

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Learning at the Hitchcock Center.

Photo by Jessica Schultz.

What does equity mean to you?

I find that equitable spaces come from equitable processes. That means that we need to ensure that a broad range of perspectives are represented in design. We’re not able to design around our own blind-spots, so we work to create processes that bring a diversity of experiences to each situation.

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

The biggest thing we work on is constantly evaluating and re-assessing our policies and programs to be as equitable and inclusive as possible. We recently transitioned to women ownership and became JUST-labeled. We also work hard to engage staff at all levels in developing and implementing new policies to make sure we have a broad range of perspectives and objectives represented.

What do you see as the largest barrier to a zero-waste building, city, and world?

I think we need to move away from a mindset that places the burden of change on individual actions and decisions. We’re at a point where the kind of major systemic change needs to come from institutions and leaders in order to offer individuals the opportunity to participate in the solution without putting themselves at a disadvantage. Otherwise we only see progress in the communities that can afford it and sustainability becomes a luxury rather than a necessity.

Who do you most enjoy partnering with on a project?

The people who will ultimately use the space. So if it’s a university, that’s the students and faculty. If it’s a library, that’s the librarians and patrons. Creating architecture is an incredibly complex and expensive undertaking, so often these people get left behind because they’re not the ones funding or enabling a project, but they’re the ones who are most affected by it, so I really enjoy connecting with them and understanding how what we’re doing is going to change their day to day lives.

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At the Hitchcock Center.

Photo by Jessica Schultz.

Where do you find inspiration?

The outdoors, rowing, riding my bike, or skiing.

What are you reading right now?

The Last Chairlift, by John Irving.

If you could redesign anything, what would it be?

I’d convince the world to switch to a single universal time zone, where sunrise and sunset are at different clock times in every part of the world, but everyone knows uses the same clock time to describe the same moment of an occurrence.

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

Take care of the people, and the rest will take care of itself.

What is your favorite quote about architecture?

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”

—Winston Churchill