I was happy to have the opportunity to attend Boston Properties University (BPU) at the Broad Institute at MIT earlier this week. BPU brings together a unique collection of people in the real estate, development, and brokerage community, and other relevant industries to “share knowledge on how to best create and foster Great Space and Place.” This year’s speakers were Roy Hirshland, CEO & Co-Founder of T3 Advisors; Hasier Larrea, Founder & CEO of MorphLab; Marc Yaggi, Executive Director of Waterkeeper Alliance; and Dr. Joseph Coughlin, Director of MIT’s AgeLab.
Innovation, Space Killers, Demographics is Destiny, and Waterkeepers were this year’s themes, and as architects and planners, it’s always essential for us to hear what our clients and those in the community think are significant trends. Some of these topics have already been areas of focus for us here at Arrowstreet, but others force us to look at trends in a new light.
Part I: Innovation
Roy Hirshland started things off with a key discussion on innovation. With the biotech industry booming in Cambridge and all the universities in the metro-area, it’s easy to forget that major companies that not long ago dominated their areas are now gone, or that Boston tracks far behind California in investment of venture capital dollars. But those are the facts, and they are vital to recall as we look to the market and try to determine what the needs of our clients are now and what they will be in the future. Much of what Roy spoke of was along the same line of thought Arrowstreet has been on over the past several years.
Through the changes in the market, we’ve been looking for ways to innovate and adapt to a changing landscape while providing our clients with designs we think will serve them well into the future. Our own move from Davis Square to Downtown Boston was a result of a changing landscape in both Somerville and Boston, and the design of our new Post Office Square home was made to be flexible, adaptable, and attractive to employees and clients.
We’ve pushed that envelope further with some of our adaptive reuse projects, the most significant being Congress Square, which is located just across the street from our studio. Being able to take these older buildings and repurpose them for today’s needs is essential when the cost of building, permitting, and renovation is so high. We are constantly challenging ourselves with the question of how you create spaces to be flexible enough for changes that are predictable. Like Roy said, opportunity is not only seeing an underserved market, but thinking ahead of the market to what we don’t even know we need—which is exactly what Hasier Larrea, the next speaker, is doing.
Stay tuned for my next post on Hasier Larrea’s presentation on Space Killers!