Design Is Our Business

53 State Street

The celebrated architect Philip Johnson (of Glass House fame) once said:

“All architecture is shelter.  All great architecture is the design of space that contains, cuddles, exalts, or stimulates the persons in that space.”

I could have launched this blog in quite a few different ways, but in the end, Mr. Johnson’s words sum up everything I believe to be true about the work that we do here at CBT Architects.  Headquartered in Boston, CBT was established nearly 50 years ago (1967) by our founding Principals and mentors – Maurice Childs, Richard Bertman and Charles Tseckares (I’ll save a separate post sharing the visions of these architectural masterminds).  With 175 employees, we specialize in architectural, interior design and urban design projects nationally and internationally for clients in all types of industries.

I lead our rapidly expanding Asset Strategy and Building Repositioning practice where we concentrate on the repositioning of commercial – often historic – buildings to help upgrade and transform them while increasing their value.  We recognize that every project is unique and must be assessed on its own terms so we have developed a “one size does NOT fit all” mentality that categorizes repositioning initiatives as Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large depending on budget, time, phasing strategy and level of need.

In dense cities like Boston, New York and San Francisco, land for new construction is scarce and building repositioning has become increasingly attractive in the past decade to building owners looking to retain existing and attract new tenants. There is a tremendous amount of this work right now, and we believe this is where the opportunity lies in the future.

I tell my team all the time that you need to think differently on every project because each property has a rich history and great story to tell.  Repositioning is all about leveraging and enlivening a building’s existing features and amenities, while maintaining the essence of what makes the building unique in the first place.

Since January, we have been selected for over 30 repositioning projects, including the well-known and iconic Schraffts Center in Boston, a 100-year-old, 1 million-square-foot, former candy factory owned by The Flatley Company.  In case you’d like to read more about it, just wrote a piece on the project.

The trend we are seeing is that people want to work in these landmark buildings, like the Schraffts Center, or the MetLife, Flatiron and Woolworth Buildings in New York and the historic Mills Building in San Francisco.  Our job is to create a distinct brand for each historic building and increase its value to the owners and tenants alike.

That’s why Mr. Johnson’s quote has a special meaning to me.   It’s the design of space that stimulates the people, the employees, in that space. We are reimagining office space to become a destination for employees, not just a place to come work.

After working in this industry for over 18 years, I realize one thing about myself…I have too many thoughts, ideas and opinions not to share them.  My hope for this blog is that it will spark conversation, raise important issues, engage in meaningful dialogue with others and offer a glimpse into the exciting world of architecture because architecture is everywhere.  It affects our daily experience of a street, a neighborhood, a city — often unconsciously.

Thank you in advance for reading my thoughts and musings, and I encourage you to comment, connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter (although admittedly, I need to be a bit more active) or email me at

I look forward to making new connections.

~ Haril

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