German Magazine HOME, an international design publication, recently profiled Boston thought leaders for their March 2016 issue’s Boston City Guide. Arrowstreet’s Emily Grandstaff-Rice was one of those interviewed. Below is a translation.
The Architect – Emily Grandstaff-Rice
Educating and inspiring the next generation is important to Emily Grandstaff-Rice. After all, it
was an architect-led sketching trip in high school where the former president of the Boston
Society of Architects and current senior associate at Arrowstreet first imagined a future for
herself in the field. Not content to just solve clients’ design challenges, she’s made it her mission
to talk about architecture to as many non-architects as possible, because that’s how you create
not just future architects (not hard in a city with six architecture schools!), but also architecture
lovers and advocates.
How do you get people to appreciate architecture?
You have to talk about it! Tell people about it, educate them, do some advocacy. Architecture
has such an influence on how we work, live, and play. I get to push the needle a little farther
toward improving those things, so that’s what drives me to teach people about it.
How do you see Boston’s architectural landscape changing?
We’re on the cusp of a great cultural burst. In the past, Boston defaulted toward a more
traditional, not-too-showy aesthetic, in part as deference to the historical architecture of the city.
But we’re an international city; people are moving here in part due to major advances in other
areas, creating energy and excitement, and we want our architecture to start to mirror that.
Boston is being proactive in saying, we want people to build new, responsive, resilient,
sustainable buildings. I’m seeing pockets of it, and it’s just going to grow.
What makes Boston a design destination?
What makes Boston unique is our public spaces. Other cities can’t quite capture it, because of
layout or what have you. There’s a reason why we don’t call places by the intersection of
streets; we have a lot of public squares, and there’s a respect in this city for that. Maybe it’s
because we have to suffer through the snow, but we take public space seriously, and that’s a
great legacy. Plus, we have a reverence for history– the idea of tearing things down doesn’t
work here. The mix of modern and historic right next to each other is something that Boston
does particularly well. But come back in five to ten years! I’m sure we’ll have many, many more
My personal tips:
The Liberty Hotel
“Formerly the Charles Street Jail, the space was converted into a hotel in 2007. I worked on the
project, and I remember doing field measurements in the jail cells! It’s not only a great urban
transformation, but a remarkable physical transformation from what it was to what it is now.” 215
Charles Street– Beacon Hill
“Designed by Maryann Thompson & Associates, it’s on the corner of the [Rose Kennedy]
Greenway, and not only has great food, but is also a stunning example of how you can create a
modern industrial aesthetic inside a historically significant building.” 540 Atlantic Ave– Seaport