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April 11
Open Buildings | Boston Summit & Workshop
On Thursday April 11, 2019 HED Principal and Studio Leader John Dale and Professor Stephen Kendall held a Summit on the concept of Open Building in the Boston office Both are founding members of the Council on Open Building, a collaborative whose central purpose is to explore issues and document best practices of planning building stock and urban fabric for change. The Council focuses on both change of use and changes within a use category, believing that this is the best way to assure sustainable, resilient and long lasting neighborhoods and buildings – across functional classes.

Open Building represents a fundamental shift in the way we plan our cities, neighborhoods, buildings and institutions. When we set our minds to designing long lasting buildings and cities, we build in the capacity for changing uses and floor plans; we configure building systems prepared to accommodate different users without conflict or disruption; and we clarify the distinction between permanent and changeable components that make up the constructed environment. The Open Building approach fosters a balance between permanence and change.

“Planning for change suggests divided or distributed control or responsibility,” says John, “because over time many different players plan for and implement change on any given building or building complex. That is why education of the greater A/E community is so vital. Our goal is to support the development of knowledge and skills needed to plan for change and to advocate for the needed adjustments in public policies related to this agenda.”

The Summit included an introduction to the core concept of Open Building along with diverse case study examples and an introduction to a design problem demonstrating how professionals can be trained to effectively deploy open building principals. The summit was designed to accomplish 3 goals:

1. Familiarization with the Open Building approach by means of a simplified design exercise using an empty multi-story building slated for reuse.

2. Identification of issues that need to be addressed to normalize the approach, understanding that it requires judgment, skill, experience, and talent to implement.

3. To explore and evaluate a building’s capacity to be an environment for a variety of activities that may take place simultaneously or in sequence – over time.

“Cities endure because they’re never finished,” explains John, “Long-lasting and loveable buildings are never finished, they incrementally adapt. The intent is to help people arrive to a place of understanding so we can all think together about how the Council’s momentum can continue to grow and create impact.”

Representatives from the greater Boston Architecture and Academic communities that participated in the workshop included Paul Lukez Architects, Smithgroup, the Built Environment Coalition, Community Circle, the MIT Department of Facilities, the Department of Architecture at Northeastern University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Attendees from HED's Boston office included Principal Robert Stein, AIA, LEED AP, Principal and Design Leader Chad Fowler, AIA, LEED AP, Principal Peter Norris, AIA, LEED AP, and Associate Joe Raia, AIA, LEED AP.


John Dale is Principal and Studio Leader, Pre K-12 + Community Education Studio for HED and past Chair of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE).

Stephen Kendall, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Architecture for Ball State University. He has taught architectural design and urban design studios, and courses in building technology and design theory at all levels of professional curricula in several universities in the US, as well as in Taiwan, Italy, Indonesia, South Africa, Japan and China.