Boston has long been a retail destination due to its strategic positioning in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The city is central to a rich culture, history, and community recognized as one of the country’s finest. Unique brands have a presence in the city from giant athletic brands to local patisseries. In the retail industry, the physical space where products are sold is as important as the product itself. Aesop—the Australian skincare brand—takes extraordinary care to make shopping an experience. To achieve this high level of business, the boutique design is vital.
This list features the best architects in the city that specializes in boutique design. To come up with the list, our editorial team compiled a list of local architectural and design firms and assessed each one with a set of criteria covering the firm’s work history, awards, and capacity in building retail projects.
10 Post Office Square, Ste. #700N, Boston, MA 02109
Arrowstreet is an award-winning architectural and design firm of over 95 architects, interior designers, planners, and graphic designers. The firm was established in the 1960s and hasn’t slowed down since. Arrowstreet is known for its consistent capacity to reimagine well-established design patterns and practices. Year by year, the firm challenges itself in reinventing new ways to create building typologies. Doing so enables the firm to garner major awards including the Boston Preservation Alliance’s President’s Award for Excellence in 2020 and the Gold Chicago Design Awards for a retail project in 2016.
The firm is headed by Amy Korte: Amy acquired a BFA for Environmental Design from the Parsons School of Design The New School and a Master’s in Architecture degree from Harvard Graduate School of Design. She takes active leadership roles in local organizations such as the Boston Society of Architects and Urban Land Institute Boston.
Arrowstreet’s experience in the retail market varies from boutiques to shopping centers. Several small-format store rollouts all over the Northeast for the retail giant Target is one of the firm’s best works. These projects come as big as 60,000-square-feet and as intricate as a full-scale retail center. This design won the Retail Store Design Gold Award from the International Council of Shopping Centers in 2017.
Beacon Architectural Associates
145 South St., Boston, MA 02111
Founded in 1963, Beacon Architectural Associates is a local institution in architecture based in Boston’s historic leather district. The firm is licensed in 38 states and is accredited by the US Green Building Council. The majority of the firm’s team members are also LEED-accredited due to the firm’s mission to create sustainable and durable designs. Michael Coleman, President of the firm, has over three decades of industry experience. He graduated from the Boston Architectural College and has been an active member of the Town of Melrose Historic District Commission since 2002. The firm is experienced in various design fields from academic, recreational, civic, and retail facilities. Lush Cosmetics, one of the largest organic skincare brands, enlisted the firm to complete over a hundred stores across the country averaging in size from 800 to 1,200-square-feet.
51 Sleeper St., 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02210
Creative, connected, and curious, Bergmeyer is an architectural and design staple in Boston. The firm recently expanded its suite of services and considers itself a design collective due to its emphasis on collaboration, partnership, and unyielding drive to produce top-notch works. The firm is headed by President Mike Davis, an alumnus of Pennsylvania State University and Yale University. Bergmeyer was established in 1975 and since then, the firm has worked through its offices in Boston and Los Angeles. The firm has won coveted awards for its retail design work including Shop! Design Awards’ Design Visual Presentation of the Year in 2020, VMSD Top Retail Design Firms in the same year.
The firm has worked on major projects all over the United States from restaurants to corporate headquarters to retail facilities. Some of the firm’s award-winning retail projects include the Boston ProShop powered by ’47. The store takes inspiration from the city’s sports heritage, its fans, and teams. The Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and the NBA’s Boston Celtics take the center stage in the store.
344 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02116
BKA Architects is a full-service architecture and design firm operating all over the US, Canada, and Europe. BKA has developed a reputation for its professional and highly-skilled team. David Seibert, AIA, BKA’s President, went to Clemson University for his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. David has over 35 years of professional experience designing for all architectural markets. He is also registered in over 27 states. He leads a team of 40+ Architects, Designers and Administrative Staff with Principals Kevin Paton, AIA and Keith Bettencourt, AIA, in performing top-tier projects in different markets. In terms of retail projects, the firm has worked with luxury brands like Christian Louboutin and Bellstaff, sportswear brands like Adidas and Asics, sportswear brands like Adidas, and apparel brands like Lululemon. For Reebok, a sportswear company, the firm built a 7,600-square-foot flagship store. The store reflects the industrial theme of its location in the Seaport District. Shipping and logistics visual cues make up the store’s unique atmosphere.
Fish Design and Architecture
1766 Centre St., Boston, MA 02132
Working with design-centric brands like Aesop and Wellesley-based Agnes Vision Optical Store, Fish Design and Architecture is a promising firm operating all over the states of New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Arizona. The firm puts great emphasis on ideas and functionality. Fish aims to complete each task with minimum error, fewer wasted resources, and simplified design. Myoungkeun Kim takes charge of the company leadership. Kim attended Korea University for a Bachelor in Architectural Engineering, Architectural Design degree, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology for further studies. Myoungkeun also Goody Clancy, Kyu Sung Woo Architects, Gensler, and Machado and Silvetti Associates.
The Aesop boutique in Cambridge is a testament to the firm’s creativity and skill. The Australian skincare brand is extremely picky when it comes to choosing partner architects since the store design is one of the most important aspects of the brand’s storytelling. For this Harvard Square location, Aesop went with a minimal approach. The walls are untouched to allude to Colonial Drug Store, the space’s previous tenant.
Hacin + Associates
500 Harrison Ave., Studio 4F, Boston, MA 02118
David Hacin, President and Founding Partner of Hacin + Associates, is a household name in the local architectural scene. Hacin graduated from Princeton and Harvard Graduate School of Design and currently serves on the Northeastern University School of Architecture Advisory Board. He also serves the Boston Civic Design Commission and Board of Historic Boston. The firm is decorated with the industry’s most coveted awards, including being named one of the Top Architecture Firms in Boston by Rethinking the Future in 2020, earning Boston Magazine’s Best Architect in Boston in 2017, and ASID New England Honor Awards’ Best Retail Design.
Hacin’s retail portfolio includes the flagship store of the Boston-based Bake. This 1,200 square-foot space uses white and neutral colors to make the products stand out. The project gained the attention of a number of publications, including Boston Magazine.
Kripper Architecture Studio
36 Bromfield St., Ste. #501 Boston, MA 02108
Kripper Architecture Studio is a full-service design firm specializing in commercial and residential works with localized conditions. The firm takes pride in its Boston heritage and community. Ami Kripper, principal and namesake of the firm, puts forward a concept-driven approach in commercial home building. Kripper went to the National University of Uruguay and Columbia University.
He has hands-on experience in technical output and research initiatives. He also taught and served as a critic in major architectural schools such as Boston Architectural College, Northeastern University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Harvard GSD.
The firm has worked on boutiques, specialty stores, and retail spaces. Cultivate, Boston’s first Marijuana dispensary, tapped Kripper to create this 1,970 square-foot space. The space has ample open spaces and a digital display to reflect the changing public perception of the Cannabis industry.
535 Albany St., Ste. #3F, Boston, MA 02118
Established in 1997, McMahon Architects is a design-driven architectural studio known for its motto “Profit from Good Design.” The firm has a keen understanding of the varying needs of its clients to ensure the success of each project. McMahon recognizes that good design is achieved through smart solutions and the strategic use of the latest technology. David McMahon, the firm’s eponymous leader, is an experienced architect. He worked for the architectural legend I.M. Pei while serving on the Yale University faculty. He is registered in 15 states and has been trained at Yale and Ohio State University.
McMahon has an impressive portfolio of commercial and residential works. The Polkadog Bakery, a handmade gourmet treat shop in Boston, is one of the firm’s best clients. The firm used graphics to present the unique products being sold by the company. The space brought an excellent presentation for pets and their owners.
Silverman Trykowski Associates
125 Broad St., 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02110
For over 20 years, Silverman Trykowski Associates has served the Greater Boston area. Felice Silverman and Thomas Trykowski founded the firm in 1996 with a strong sense of community in the area. Over 90% of the firm’s clients are repeat customers or referrals. Silverman went to Harvard and Boston Architectural College. She served as President of both the International Interior Design Association and Interior Design Continuing Education Council from 2013 to 2014. Trykowski is a brilliant architect licensed in ten states.
The firm’s experience in the retail industry was built through partnerships with brands including Fred Perry, King Jewelers, and Arche. The French shoe manufacturer Arche enlisted the services of Silverman Trykowski to complete the brands’ Newbury Street location. The firm employed a bold red and black palette
Studio LUZ Architects
67 Poplar St., Boston, MA 02131
Studio LUZ Architects is an award-winning architectural firm known for its agile and forward-thinking approach to the craft. The firm won major awards from the Boston Society of Architects and other relevant architectural organizations. The firm’s leadership includes the duo of Anthony J. Piermarini and Hansy L. Better Barraza. The two both attended Cornell University and Harvard GSD. Piermarini is a recipient of the National AIA Young Architects Award and an Associate Professor at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Barraza teaches at RISD and is a member of the editorial board for the Critical Productive Journal.
The firm is an advocate for making design accessible and potent, as demonstrated in its participation in the 1% ProBono program.
Looking at the firm’s arsenal of retail works is an interesting visual trip. The Doma Liquors boutique in Harvard Square is a fine example of the firm’s intuition. The boutique has an intimate appeal that mimics high-end bars.