Design Thinking Bootcamp

Design Thinking Bootcamp

As a part of a weeklong exploration of careers in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry, students from Boston Public Schools joined HMFH over February Break for an introduction to architecture and design thinking.

Great design is achieved through close collaboration between a diverse group of critical thinkers, and at HMFH, we are committed to advancing the profession by making it more accessible. Through community outreach and mentorship opportunities, we continually strive to inspire a passion for design in the next generation of architects.

Made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Boston Private Industry Council, Boston Society for Architecture, Finegold Alexander, Goody Clancy, and Sasaki, Design Thinking Bootcamp brings awareness and valuable insight into architecture as a career pathway by offering a comprehensive understanding of the design profession that includes programming and sustainability; concept design and model building; design development and interior design; and construction and documentation.

For our third year participating in Design Thinking Bootcamp, HMFH took BPS high school students through in-depth presentations of current HMFH projects including Fales Elementary School and Chapman Middle School to reveal all that goes into designing a school building, from detailed drawing sets to coordination with consultants and engagement with stakeholders.

The latter portion of the session was an interactive activity where students had the chance to work on a design project of their own. Tasked with designing a workspace, the activity encouraged students to think creatively and consider a variety of design elements such as materiality, function, use, and aesthetic. Using an array of mediums from sketching to collaging, each student produced impressive workspace designs.

HMFH Presents at Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference

HMFH Presents at Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference

With extensive knowledge and experience with sustainable design and renovations, HMFHers Gary Brock and Peter Rust shared a designer’s perspective on the economic, environmental and social benefits of historic preservation and how to make adaptive reuse a feasible option for design projects.

The Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference is a biennial, statewide event where professionals and local advocates interested in preservation share preservation successes, challenges and lessons learned. Alongside Cambridge Historical Commission Executive Director Charles Sullivan, HMFH presented a case study of the recently completed Renae’s Place, providing valuable insight into the process of restoring a historic structure while making it more resilient and energy efficient for optimal performance and community benefit.

A small project with a large impact, Renae’s Place was originally an 1885 residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts that had fallen into disrepair through decades of commercial use. The renovation and addition transformed the property from its underutilized state into 10 units of emergency housing, while successfully achieving seemingly disparate goals: restoring the building’s original historic character, designing for climate resiliency, and creating a safe environment for vulnerable populations.

Pictured below (left) is HMFH’s renovation of Renae’s Place, as well as the building pre-renovation (bottom right) and a historic image of the building from Massachusetts Avenue (top right).

HMFH Bus Tour 2021

HMFH Bus Tour 2021

HMFHers gathered for our 2021 bus tour to explore current HMFH construction projects and learn more about the exciting work of fellow project teams. This year, the tour took us through Bristol County Agricultural High School and Fales Elementary School.

After more than a year apart, HMFHers were thrilled to spend a day together for our annual bus tour, where we learned about the work of our colleagues and were able to experience these spectacular spaces first-hand!

The bus tour provides a perfect opportunity for project teams to share their creative work with one another and inspire future innovative designs. The tour brought the firm through Bristol County Agricultural High School and Fales Elementary School, both of which are currently under construction and set to open later this year.

Bristol County Agricultural High School

HMFH’s designs and renovations for six buildings on the Bristol Aggie campus will establish a sense of connectivity throughout and accommodate the school’s wide range of unique and high-level vocational programs centered around agriculture. Beyond the specialty spaces that will provide students with the resources necessary to excel in their academic and vocational endeavors, the entire campus functions as a teaching tool with its exposed heavy timber structural elements, highly visible sustainable mechanical and electrical systems, recycled and renewable materials, composting systems, and water conservation systems.

Fales Elementary School

As the first net-positive energy public school in Massachusetts, the Annie E. Fales elementary school is breaking new ground in the design of energy efficient schools. Sawtooth roof shapes provide optimal positioning for PV panels on the south side, while on the north face skylights draw daylight into the learning spaces. Stunning light conditions and views of the surrounding environment, including woodlands, meadows, and a pond, characterize the new elementary school, while staggered window heights and child-scaled details demonstrate how a breakthrough design can also be a welcoming and engaging environment for both its young learners and teachers.

HMFH Sustainability Leaders Take the Floor at Architecture Boston Expo and Greenbuild

HMFH Sustainability Leaders Take the Floor at Architecture Boston Expo and Greenbuild

Two of HMFH’s Sustainability Leaders presented at Architecture Boston Expo (ABX) and GreenBuild to share their expertise on designing energy-efficient, comfortable spaces through daylighting—and empower student-driven sustainable progress through mentoring and metrics.

Daylight Your Building to Net-Zero Energy

Natural light is a critical facet in the design of well-lit spaces. Daylighting contributes not only to the energy savings of a building, but to the wellbeing of its occupants. At this year’s ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX), Alexandra Gadawski is co-leading a workshop on designing comfortable, energy-efficient spaces through daylighting with Lam Partners and Compass Project Management. Alexandra and her fellow presenters will examine how the eye perceives brightness and impart strategies for planning and designing these environments—from selecting colors and finishes to utilizing metrics and tools to analyze and model daylight, including digital and heliodon modeling using classrooms in the new Arlington High School as a base to explore daylighting possibilities.

As Vice President of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) of North America’s Boston Section, and HMFH’s own sustainability leader in building science, Alexandra’s contributions to lighting design through daylight and energy modeling support student health and reduce energy. Her recent project experience includes the Roeper School Learning Commons in Birmingham, MI, the Hastings Early Childhood Center, and the Florida Ruffin Ridley School—each honored for their exceptional lighting design by the IES.

Sustainability Beyond the Textbook: Partnerships with Green Mentors to Bring Schools to Life for Students

Student action is vital to the sustainable efforts of any school. The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Schools as Teaching Tools program connects schools with its network of professionals to equip students to lead and drive sustainable changes. As a Green Building Professional Mentor with the USGBC, Stephanie MacNeil partnered with Boston Latin School, a renovation and expansion project completed by HMFH in 2001. At this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Stephanie, fellow mentors, and student mentees will share lessons and strategies learned throughout the process.

The BLS chapter of YouthCAN gathered feedback from the student body for the previous year; using Arc, a digital sustainability performance platform affiliated with the USGBC, they were also able to collect data on the building’s energy, waste, transportation, and human experience. Working with the information they had gathered, Stephanie led student charrettes to help them determine tangible changes to adopt as well as ideas for new, healthy environments at the school based on the desires of their peers: an on-campus “calm room” and greenspace. As a result, the students crafted and submitted a detailed proposal for their renovation ideas to Boston Public Schools.

“Schools as Teaching Tools was a great resource, not only for the students, but for architects, too.”

Stephanie MacNeil | Associate and Sustainability Leader, HMFH Architects