Overview

Boston is an incubator for young, innovative brands, as well as multinational organizations with century-old origins. Just look at the rapidly developing Financial District and Seaport District, or Cambridge, with its infusion of Harvard Business School scholars. Listed here are the most successful workplace architecture firms in the area: the design houses that have demonstrated facility in serving the needs of Boston’s deeply entrenched medical community, its burgeoning technology centers, and its service and product-oriented entrepreneurs. These 10 Boston architectural practices that excel at both adapting historic spaces and building new corporate campuses.

Top Architects

Actwo Architects

Architects:
Andrew Cohen
Thomas White

Awards:
AIA New England Citation Award

Address:
30 Boston Post Road, Wayland, MA 01778

About Actwo Architects

Cornell University and Harvard Graduate School of Design alum Andrew Cohen, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, formed Andrew Cohen Architects in 1982. After 30 years of building relationships with Boston-area clients, Cohen partnered with another accomplished architect, Thomas White AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, to form Actwo Architects. White worked with Andrew Cohen Architects for 17 years and now shares principal responsibilities with Cohen. The Boston Globe, the Boston Society of Architects, and the American Institute of Architects New England chapter are among the publications and institutions that have recognized Actwo Architects’ workspace designs. Actwo Architects also tackles residential and institutional projects.

Featured Projects

The Boston Globe covered the Actwo Architects design for Kayak, the online travel fare search engine. The internet company relocated from the suburbs to a two-floor office in Cambridge to draw Boston’s top tech talent. Adhering to Kayak’s standard, Actwo Architects designed an open floor plan without any traditional, enclosed offices. Informal meeting spaces are offset by partial, wood-slat enclosures. Conference rooms in various sizes are wrapped in glass walls to keep sightlines open and not interfere with the lighting. A bi-level community space, includes a kitchen, a lounge, a café, and an amphitheater for company-wide meetings. Actwo Architects came in three years later for the office’s expansion. The Boston Globe also took notice of the Actwo Architects design for Intarcia Therapeutics’ new Boston digs. The Seaport District expansion created 13.5k square feet of office and meeting spaces for the fast-growing developer of diabetes medications. The spread is defined by glass walls, patterned ceiling soffits, and built-in functional areas, like a pristine, flat-front galley kitchen.

CBT Architects

Architects:
Richard Bertman
Charles Tseckares
Maurice Childs

Awards:
IIDA New England Legacy Award,
Boston Preservation Alliance Preservation Achievement Award

Address:
110 Canal Street, Boston, MA 02114

About CBT Architects

Thirteen principals steward the international firm CBT Architects, among them founders Richard Bertman, FAIA, LEED AP, and Charles Tseckares, FAIA. Together with the late Maurice Childs, the trio incorporated in Brookline in 1967 and expanded to a second office in Boston within the following year. Today, the firm consists of nearly 200 architects, planners, and interior designers, working out of offices on Canal Street in Boston, and in Abu Dhabi. The firm earned six design awards in 2017 — the year of its 50th anniversary — including an International Interior Design Association New England Legacy Award. CBT Architects workplace designs have garnered coverage from The Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal.

Featured Projects

CBT Architects earned Best in Office and Interior Design awards from IIDA New England, and a Preservation Achievement Award CBT Architects earned Best in Office and Interior Design awards from IIDA New England, and a Preservation Achievement Award from Boston Preservation Alliance for their Shawmut Design + Construction headquarters design. The 75k-square-foot warehouse space was reworked to reflect Shawmut work culture. The design brought forward the brick and beam building infrastructure. Polished concrete floors and exposed ceiling beams underscore the client’s relationship with construction materials. Vertical louvered panels of natural wood beams add dimension and texture while allowing light to permeate each floor. Boston-based Liberty Mutual also partnered with CBT Architects to design an international headquarters space worthy of their New England pedigree. The multi-award-winning building — recognized by the International Facility Management Association, Boston Preservation Alliance, Marble Institute of America, and CoreNet — is a 22-story tower that provides the global insurance company more than 574k square feet of office space. An arched, glass bridge connects employees from the new, curved-edge structure to the Salada Tea Building. The LEED Gold-certified building includes a two-story cafeteria that serves meals to 5,000 employees.

Elkus | Manfredi Architects Ltd.

Address:
25 Drydock Avenue, Boston, MA 02210

About Elkus | Manfredi Architects Ltd.

A diverse portfolio of design projects that range from painstaking restorations to complex contemporary buildings, Elkus | Manfredi Architects has managed to score some of New England’s top projects over the last few years. Named as ENR New England’s first-ever Design Firm of the Year, the firm is known for providing master planning and design services for major developments in Boston such as the Ink Block and the Boston Landing. Howard F. Elkus FAIA, RIBA, LEED AP, and David P. Manfredi FAIA, LEED AP, founded the firm in 1988. The private company has gone on to design some of Boston’s most prolific institutional buildings, including the Paramount Center at Emerson College and The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. In 2016, the company earned more than $64M in annual revenue from New England projects.

Featured Projects

New Balance tapped Elkus | Manfredi Architects to design its 250k-square-foot headquarters at the Boston Landing. The global athletic leader’s new HQ is the first LEED v2009 CS Platinum project in the U.S. to achieve all Indoor Environmental Quality credits and only the third such project on the planet. The U.S. Green Building Council Massachusetts named it Building of the Year in 2016 while IIDA New England awarded it Best in Massachusetts in 2017. Its design is emblematic of the Massachusetts industrial tradition, specifically taking cues from New Balance’s manufacturing facility in Lawrence, MA. The workplace features a flexible, open, non-hierarchical workspace, a large employee cafeteria, a café, showrooms, and a community park. Along Boston Harbor, Elkus | Manfredi Architects is also the creative force behind the 15,000-square-foot Potamus headquarters. The interiors for the high-tech financial services firm won Best Office Design from the Society of British and International Design. Inspired by the company’s symbol, the hippopotamus, the materials, textures, and colors take on the animal’s sub-Saharan vibe for a relaxed, yet professional environment. The trading floor is lined with oversized windows offering views of Boston Harbor while the reception desk doubles as a DJ booth.

Fusion Design Consultants

Architects:
John Kelly
Jennifer Peters
Michael Knauff
Chris Munro

Awards:
IIDA New England Interior Design Awards

Address:
300 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210

About Fusion Design Consultants

Fusion Design Consultants provided design services and graphic branding for the creation of a Pandora sales office in downtown Boston. Interior workstations accommodate a mostly open floor plan with perimeter private spaces. Though natural light permeates the whole 5,300-square-foot workspace, employees of the internet radio company can enjoy taking a moment to bask in window seats and brainstorm together using writable plywood panels. To reflect the company and the city’s musical context, meeting rooms are known as “sound studios,” and larger conference areas are named and decorated in commemoration of landmark Boston venues. Germany-based strategy and marketing consulting firm Simon-Kucher also sought out Fusion Design Consultants to design their office space at their new location in downtown Boston. This office is the largest in the Simon-Kucher’s seven offices across the U.S. The bold personality of the firm is reflected in the clean lines, dark accents, neutral palettes, and industrial aesthetic of the spaces. The large floor plate was divided into four neighborhoods each consisting of open-office style workstations, private offices, meeting rooms, and a floating huddle room.

Featured Projects

Fusion Design Consultants provided design services and graphic branding for the creation of a Pandora sales office in downtown Boston. Interior workstations accommodate a mostly open floor plan with perimeter private spaces. Though natural light permeates the whole 5,300-square-foot workspace, employees of the internet radio company can enjoy taking a moment to bask in window seats and brainstorm together using writable plywood panels. To reflect the company and the city’s musical context, meeting rooms are known as “sound studios,” and larger conference areas are named and decorated in commemoration of landmark Boston venues. In a project for a more buttoned-up corporation, Fusion Design Consultants created a Boston office for national investment bank and asset management firm, Piper Jaffray. The 5,600-square-foot office spreads across the 33rd story of the First National Bank Building in the Financial District. A wood-slat, volumetric ceiling installation over the stone clad reception desk makes an immediate impression on visiting clients, without straying too far from the streamlined aesthetic Piper Jaffray had already established. Further eschewing the traditional model of flat front offices, each enclosed space is surrounded by a three-dimensional, wood veneer frame.

Gensler

Architects:
Art Gensler
Robin Klehr Avia
Joseph Brancato
Douglas C. Gensler
Jeanne M. Nutt

Awards:
ENR #1 Green Building Design Firm in Commercial Offices,
Building Design + Construction Giants #1 Office Sector Architecture Firm

Address:
One Beacon Street, Third Floor, Boston, MA 02108

About Gensler

The ENR #1 Green Building Design Firm in Commercial Offices and the Building Design + Construction Giants #1 Office Sector Architecture Firm, Gensler also rises to the top of both publication’s overall lists. The firm maintains that a strong workspace design can enhance the performance of a company and its staff. With 46 worldwide offices of their own and a client list that includes 40 of the top 50 companies on the Fortune 500 list, Gensler has had many opportunities to test that theory. Regional Managing Principals Robin Klehr Avia, FIIDA, and Joseph Brancato, AIA, have led office projects for Microsoft, Condé Nast and Young & Rubicam. The Boston office, which opened in 1993, is also overseen by co-Managing Principals Douglas C. Gensler, AIA, NCARB, and Jeanne M. Nutt, IIDA.

Featured Projects

Reebok sought Gensler’s design expertise when it moved its headquarters from the suburbs of Canton to Boston’s prominent Seaport District. Drawing on the creative energy of the city and Reebok’s “craft” influence, the firm created the 220k-square-foot headquarters that houses a 30k-square-foot two-floor gym facility, containing a boxing ring, spin room, yoga and barre studios, as well as a fully-fitted cross-fit studio. Workouts aside, the open floor plan of the offices promote collaboration as well as its common areas such as a cafe, design lab, retail store, shared work tables, and a bleacher-style sitting area. Also in Seaport District is the upcoming GE Innovation Point — General Electric Co.’s future headquarters. Gensler has unveiled the designs for the 12-story headquarters building and entire three-building campus for the power giant. The project will have sustainable features such as a rooftop solar system and vegetated roof areas. The notable solar veil starts atop the roof and curves down past the side of the building and will house photovoltaic cells able to harness solar energy and power all of the buildings within.

Hacin + Associates

Architects:
David Hacin

Awards:
IIDA New England Hospitality Design Award

Address:
500 Harrison Avenue, Studio 4F, Boston MA, 02118

About Hacin + Associates

A New England Design Hall of Fame inductee, David Hacin, FAIA, established Hacin + Associates, a South End team of more than 20 designers. Twelve years after its founding, the architecture firm expanded to provide interior design services, and eventually would also offer graphic, exhibit, and furniture design. Through their partnership with Sasaki Associates, Hacin + Associates works toward sustainable and boundary-pushing advancements in architecture. Hacin is a member of the Boston Civic Design Commission and a co-founder of the Design Industry Groups of Massachusetts. Under his direction as principal and creative director of Hacin + Associates, the firm’s workplace designs have been published globally and the firm has been recognized with over 60 design awards.

Featured Projects

Hacin + Associates collaborated with prominent firm Sasaki Associates to redesign four floors of office space for the Downtown Crossing office of Arnold Worldwide/Havas. The partnering firm converted office spaces, a bar and cafe, meeting rooms, private offices, and 4,000-square feet of space for photography and video production. The 7th and 8th floors are joined by a feature staircase with material finishes that play off the historic Burnham Building’s original architecture. The 116k-square-foot headquarters earned praise from The Boston Globe, and IIDA New England awarded the design Best Office Over 80,000 square feet. The IDEO Cambridge No.2 is another IIDA New England Best Office awardee that Hacin + Associates worked on. A 20th-century parking garage was converted into a contemporary office building. The first two levels are for client and staff, including the workshop and IDEO CoLab while the third is for employees only, including desks, couches, and project team rooms. The building’s exterior is literally a work of art serving as the canvas of mural artist Eltono.

Handel Architects

Address:
120 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10271

About Handel Architects

Handel Architects is an architecture and planning firm with long reach and an expansive portfolio. President Gary E. Handel, FAIA, founded the firm in New York City in 1994. The company of more than 150 designers and staffers has now expanded to offices in San Francisco and Hong Kong. Their presence in the Northeast is indisputable, with over 250 design awards and a constantly growing portfolio. Since 2000, the firm has designed projects recognized by the Boston Society of Architects, the Boston Preservation Alliance, and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects. The American Institute of Architects, the Congress for New Urbanism, and the Concrete Industry Board have also awarded Handel-designed projects in Boston-proper, like the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residences and the Boston Conservatory-Hemenway Building.

Featured Projects

115 Winthrop Square will bring 1M square feet of residences, offices, and storefronts to the Financial District. Design-wise, the massing of the tower will lean towards contemporary while paying respect to the adjacent One Winthrop Square and other neighboring Art Deco-era buildings built in the 1920’s and 1940’s. The project will be designed to LEED Platinum standards while the office component of the project will be certified Passive House — the most rigorous energy efficiency standard in the world, which will make Winthrop Center the largest Passive House office building in the world.

IA Interior Architects

Architects:
Reetika Vijay
David Bourke
Tom Powers

Address:
100 Oliver Street, Suite 210, Boston, MA 02110

About IA Interior Architects

Fast Company Design, Inc. Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine have all taken notice of the workplace designs of firm Interior Architects. Since its founding in 1984, Interior Architects has opened 19 offices throughout the United States and Canada and partnered with another 60 offices abroad for a total of more than 1,000 designers and administrative staff. Boston Managing Principal Reetika Vijay, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, studied architecture at Syracuse University and worked with prominent firm Sasaki Associates before joining Interior Architects as a managing director in 2012. With co-Presidents and CEOs David Bourke and Tom Powers, Vijay has led the firm to be a dominating presence in Boston’s workspace architecture landscape.

Featured Projects

Carbonite, a digital data storage and recovery service, called on Interior Architects to redesign a 50k-square-foot Boston office that would be functional and play to the technologically forward company’s need for flexibility. To consolidate Carbonite’s 400 employees into a single-floor space, Interior Architects devised a neighborhood concept that grouped open spaces and private offices with kitchenettes and lounge areas. Glass-front private offices and workstations along the window line maximize limited natural light. One windowless wall was wrapped in a large Star Wars mural — recalling the franchise where Carbonite got its name — to distract from the lack of a view. Interior Architects took home the IIDA New England People’s Choice Award for the design. Interior Architects also worked on the second-largest office deal in Boston in 2018 — the renovation and expansion of Wayfair, an online destination for furniture and home goods. Covering 395k-square-feet, the space takes up 11 floors and promises to provide workspace for approximately 4,000 people. With this much space, Wayfair boosted its local real-estate footprint to more than 1 million square feet, making it one of the few companies outside of the financial services industry with that much space in the city. On the ninth floor, IA designed the large communal kitchen and dining space to overlook beautiful Copley Square and maximize viewership of the iconic Boston Marathon finish line and day-to-day events. Wayfair furnishings are also used throughout. Other notable features include training rooms, a yoga studio, a dynamic conference center, and a demonstration lab featuring the latest Wayfair technology.

Margulies Perruzzi Architects

Architects:
A, Daniel Perruzzi
Jason B. Costello
Janet Morra

Awards:
IES Boston Illumination Awards,
IFMA Boston Awards of Excellence

Address:
308 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210

About Margulies Perruzzi Architects

Formerly Margulies & Associates, this Boston architecture and interior design firm became Margulies Perruzzi Architects in 2008 — 20 years after Senior Partner Marc Margulies, FAIA, LEED AP founded the company — to reflect the leadership role of Daniel Perruzzi, AIA, LEED AP. Along with partners Jason B. Costello, AIA, LEED AP, and Janet Morra, AIA, LEED AP, Margulies and Perruzzi have built a clientele that includes Blue Cross Blue Shield, Massachusetts General Hospital, Fidelity Investments and other corporations embedded into the fabric of New England. According to Building Magazine, Margulies Perruzzi Architects is one of the top firms in the LEED AP, Green, and Office design categories. The firm’s work has also been recognized by the International Facilities Management Association Boston chapter, the International Interior Design Association, and the Illuminating Engineering Society.

Featured Projects

Zipcar contracted Margulies Perruzzi Architects to design a centralized headquarters in Boston’s Innovation District. The 46k-square-foot warehouse, known as the “Zipcar Building,” has been converted to house the national car-sharing company and its growing workforce. The eco-conscious design employs high-efficiency lighting and reclaimed materials to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Among the honors, Margulies Perruzzi Architects earned for their design were the IIDA New England Chapter Best Office between 30,000-80,000 square feet and People’s Choice Awards. With help from Margulies Perruzzi Architects, information management company Iron Mountain moved their global headquarters to the One Federal Street highrise. The two-floor layout — which includes private offices, low-paneled workstations, and a variety of huddle rooms — earned the CoreNet Global New England Award of Excellence for Best New Workplace/Large Renovation, an IFMA Boston Best Practice Award of Excellence for Medium Projects, and the NEWiRE Achievement Award for Networking.

McMahon Architects

Architects:
David McMahon

Address:
535 Albany Street, Suite 3F, Boston, MA 02118

About McMahon Architects

David McMahon, AIA, NCARB, earned a Master of Architecture from Yale University before working with prestigious design firms I.M. Pei and Partners and CBT Architects. In 1997, McMahon established his eponymous firm and has served as President and CEO for the last 20 years. Shirin Tahsili, senior project manager and senior interior designer, brings more than 20 years of experience to the team in corporate design projects. She handles the day to day design and document management of 4 to 5 large scale retail and office build-out projects for the firm. Boston Business Journal, Boston.com, and The Boston Globe are among the publications that have profiled the McMahon Architects workspace projects.

Featured Projects

Online home goods company Wayfair tapped McMahon Architects for the design of a new corporate headquarters in Boston. The 129k-square-foot, multi-story space in Back Bay is organized around a central staircase. Each level of the open, switchback stair is exposed to a mural commemorating a moment in Boston history, such as the transport of the Museum of Science’s brontosaurus statue, high above the Charles River. Floor-to-ceiling windows further incorporate the spirit of the city by affording employees expansive views. Cafeteria and lounge spaces channel Boston’s thriving art community — from graffiti walls to stylized booths — and encourage employees to gather and take a moment to relax. For Feldman Land Surveyors, McMahon Architects orchestrated the adaptive reuse of a Roxbury factory building. The complete gut and redesign created modern office layouts without destroying the 19th-century architecture, earning the project a 2018 Boston Preservation Alliance Award. Exposed wood beams and brick walls frame the 18,910-square-foot headquarters. The third floor features a cathedral ceiling, enhanced with the addition of skylights. The contemporary office space includes an 800-square-foot gym.

Nelson

Architects:
John Nelson, Sr.
John “Ozzie” Nelson, Jr.

Awards:
Building Design + Construction Architecture/Engineering Giants,
Interior Design Magazine Design Giants in Workplace Design

Address:
99 Chauncy Street, 10th Floor, Boston, MA 02111

About Nelson

John Nelson, Sr. established Nelson in 1977 as an interior design company. Today — under the leadership of the founder’s son, Chairman & CEO John “Ozzie” Nelson, Jr. — Nelson is an international architecture and design practice of more than 700 team members. With more than 22 offices around the world, Nelson has been able to build relationships with more than a fifth of the companies in the Fortune 100, including clients like Nielsen, an international data measurement corporation. The firm ranks among Building Design + Construction 150 Architecture Giants list and is No. 7 on the Interior Design magazine’s 2020 list of design giants in workplace design.

Featured Projects

Nelson designed Google Cambridge, a multi-building campus that houses about 1200 of the technology company’s New England employees. Over four years, designers teamed with two contractors to create five structures, each reflective of a particular line of the MBTA “T” and that line’s surrounding neighborhoods. In Google fashion, each space takes on a unique theme. The cafe and lounge are inspired by the Public Gardens in the heart of Boston. Another employee lounge replicates a beach experience. The design didn’t sacrifice sustainability for aesthetics; much of the campus is certified LEED Gold or LEED Platinum. Nelson also designed the Verizon Innovation Center in Boston’s “technology corridor.” In tandem with a similar facility in San Francisco, the innovation center drives technological advancement for the telecommunications giant. Cutting-edge laboratories and top-of-the-line conference rooms offer engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators space to collaborate with each other and design the future of wireless technology. The design integrates the clean lines and cubic volumes one would expect from a laboratory setting, with arm wood floors and textured wall panels, more conducive to socialization.

SGA

Architects:
Al Spagnolo
Bill Gisness
Jeff Tompkins

Awards:
AGC Build New England Design Award,
IIDA New England Design Award,
IFMA New England Design Award

Address:
200 High Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02110

About SGA

Founded by Al Spagnolo, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB); Bill Gisness, AIA, and Jeff Tompkins, member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), SGA is a full-service practice offering architecture and interior design, as well as planning and environment branding. With offices in downtown Boston and Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the company employs more than 70 designers and staffers. Since its founding in 1991, SGA has earned recognition from national publications, plus design awards from AGC Build New England, IIDA New England, IFMA New England, and ENR New England. In 2020, it was hailed the Architecture and Design Firm of the Year by the Boston Real Estate Times.

Featured Projects

SGA is the design force behind the 900k-square-foot state-of-the-art hybrid laboratory-office buildings on 50+60 Binney Street. Built for the Alexandria Real Estate Equities, these two ten-story LEED Gold structures were built ‘up-down’ — ten floors built above ground first followed by six below-grade parking levels — to enable earlier rent commencement for the tenants of the building. The firm designed them to be highly flexible with high ceilings, a highly efficient envelope, and a mechanical and electrical core in the center of each floor. Its crystalline facades consist of a glass curtain wall that wraps around the front with brick and metal panels on the sides and back. The ENR New England named the project the Best Office|Retail|Mixed-Use Project in 2017. Another notable Cambridge project of SGA is also located on Binney Street. The multinational biotech company, Biogen Idec, invested in an SGA-designed global headquarters on the award-winning development Alexandria Center at Kendall Square. The open design of the offices was aimed to radicalize office environments, foster collaboration, and promote more sharing of ideas. The project earned a 2015 AGC Build New England Merit Award and a 2014 ENR New England Best Office|Retail|Mixed-Use Project Award.