Suni Dillard Wins AIA Young Architects Award 2024

Suni Dillard Wins AIA Young Architects Award 2024


We are thrilled to announce the recognition of Suni Dillard, Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader, by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for her exceptional leadership and significant contributions to the architecture profession through environmental advocacy, increasing access to great design, and mentoring future architects.

Promoted last year to Senior Associate, Suni is driven by the challenge of socially responsible design that positively impacts both the health of people and the environment.

As a Sustainability Leader guiding HMFH’s Sustainability Committee, Suni empowers her colleagues, clients, and community to set ambitious sustainability goals—which isn’t always easy to prioritize in public projects. Particularly for clients who are undertaking what are likely to be once-in-a-lifetime projects for their communities (like school buildings that will be in use for 50+ years), newly available design and sustainability opportunities aren’t always obvious. This is where Suni encourages them to think holistically and consider how they can take their project steps further to create designs that are environmentally and socially impactful. In her words, she pushes them “to do more than just make a new building.”

With her three co-leaders, Suni and the HMFH Sustainability Committee are creating a framework to navigate design processes in concert with the needs of the environment. In doing so, she wants to remind people that design is not just about aesthetics—that it’s important to think more holistically, understand the context, and include sustainable and social justice in the design. “It’s all one package,” she says. “It’s not just about what the building looks like. Good design will address all of these things.”

Outside of HMFH, Suni continues to champion her mission of combining sustainability and social responsibility with good design. She has led the Carbon Leadership Forum Boston chapter’s education committee since 2020. She also curated the Embodied Carbon Series, which helps AEC professionals understand and apply embodied carbon best practices to their projects to reduce emissions and achieve zero carbon. What began as an online series Suni and a small advisory group developed during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a nationally-recognized course and a staple of AIA University.

Notably, Suni prioritizes sharing her experiences and knowledge with the rising generation of future architects.

“It’s important for people to understand that they have options to navigate and that they need to learn how to advocate for themselves.” For Suni, mentoring is about more than just listening to questions and offering advice. She sees it as her responsibility to bring those questions to places she now gets to participate in as a Senior Associate—back to where the decision-makers are. Looking ahead, this is what Suni sees for the future of the architecture profession: education. In all directions.

“Going forward, my goal is to continue educating clients, people in the profession, and the general public to think more critically about how we function as architects. As an industry, we all have to figure out how to do better and design on a holistic level to positively impact the community and the environment. It won’t be just about doing business as usual.”

Suni Dillard | Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader, HMFH Architects

Cultivating the Next Generation of Design Professionals at Architecture / Design Thinking Week

Cultivating the Next Generation of Design Professional at Architecture / Design Thinking Week

A cohort of 20 Boston Public high school students joined three HMFH designers over the February break to participate in Architecture/Design Thinking Week at BSA Space. This program provides students with the hands-on opportunity to learn about the profession of architecture from young professionals working in the field.

The four-day event introduced participants to distinct phases of the design process including programming; conceptual design; design development; and construction administration. Throughout the week students exercised extreme creativity with drawings, collage, and model making to design a wide range of rooms and nooks that represented their ideal workspaces. HMFH facilitated the final day, which focused on construction administration (CA). To explore the concepts of CA, our designers Hannah Keith, Jake Picariello, and Nallely Salazar guided participants through the process of selecting finishes, specifying materials, and thinking through fine details such as where in a space one might hang their backpack.

Before the interactive session began, students were presented with a deep dive into some of HMFH’s recent design work, which gave them insight into the wide-ranging skills that are required to accomplish exemplary school building design. The projects reviewed included the four-phased construction of Arlington High School, the Annie E. Fales School which is distinguished as the first net-positive energy school in New England, and the Bristol County Agricultural High School. By seeing the building drawings and learning about work that included coordination with consultants and stakeholder engagement, students could visualize a variety of possible careers.

In addition to providing participants with insight into career pathways in AEC, Architecture/Design Thinking Week provides our designers with mentorship opportunities. Cultivating the next generation of architects and instilling in them a passion for design is one of our core values, which we pursue through community outreach, providing summer intern opportunities, mentorship, and by participating in programs such as Architecture/Design Thinking Week.

Architecture/Design Thinking Week, is a collaborative effort between the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA), the BSA Foundation, Boston Private Industry Council (PIC), Finegold Alexander Architects, Goody Clancy, Sasaki/Sasaki Foundation, and HMFH, which has been participating for the past five years.

HMFH Recognized as Emerging Professional Friendly Firm

HMFH Recognized as Emerging Professional Friendly Firm

First recognized in 2019, HMFH maintains its status as an Emerging Professional Friendly Firm going into 2022. HMFH was one of 34 firms to receive this year’s designation from the AIA New England for our supportive culture and continued investment in the professional growth of emerging staff throughout 2021.

The core of our practice is our valued staff, and at HMFH emerging professionals represent not only the future of our firm but the future of the design industry. Under the guidance of HMFH Associate Caitlin Osepchuk, a former AIA New England Young Architects Regional Director, the firm actively encourages young staff members to grow professionally and develop expertise and leadership both within the firm and in the profession at large. The range of opportunities for professional development include:

  • Active involvement in various committees
  • An annual stipend for professional education and research
  • A supported path to licensure with prep materials, study groups, online classes, and guidance from senior colleagues
  • Involvement in the BSA’s annual Young Designers Professional Development Institute (YDPDI)
  • Paid expenses for active membership in professional activities
  • One-on-one check-ins to foster our culture of inclusion and support

Congratulations to all 2021 Emerging Professional Friendly Firms!

Suni Dillard Helps Develop Embodied Carbon Series

Suni Dillard Helps Develop Embodied Carbon Series

A champion of healthy materials and one of HMFH’s own sustainability leaders, Suni Dillard drives environmentally responsible design both in and out of the office. She recently helped develop a new 12-part program hosted by the Boston Society for Architecture on embodied carbon—the emissions created by materials’ production processes—to empower fellow industry professionals to employ carbon reduction strategies in the built environment.

Supported by the Carbon Leadership Forum group in Boston, the panel topics include basic literacy as well as procurement, structure, engineering, and advanced certifications. In addition to advising the BSA on the series’ development, she moderated the installment on structure and will be moderating the advanced panel on certifications and commitments.

Since joining HMFH, Suni has quickly established herself as a resource and advocate for the integration of social, environmental, and economically sustainable solutions to design challenges of all sizes.

Panels from the Embodied Carbon 101 series are recorded and archived here.

2024 Promotions

2024 Promotions

We are pleased to announce the promotion of the following individuals in recognition of their contributions to HMFH’s design leadership, project management, office operations, and equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.

Matt LaRue AIA, LEED Green Associate

Since joining HMFH in 2010, Matt has demonstrated a thoughtful approach to design that results in extraordinary places for learning. From playful, child-centric designs to comprehensive planning for educational institutions, he brings careful attention to detail and craft while never losing sight of the big picture. Matt is a trusted and valued partner to clients, collaborators, and colleagues alike, exemplifying excellence in all that he does.

As a Project Manager and Design Leader, Matt plays a key role on some of the firm’s most significant educational projects including Boston’s new Josiah Quincy Upper School, a high-rise school opening this fall in Chinatown; Middletown Middle High School, Rhode Island’s first public middle high school; and the new Maria Weston Chapman Middle School, which offers students unique career pathway programs in a facility designed to support discovery and well-being.

Mirtha Suero, Office Manager and Inclusion Leader

Mirtha’s passion for people is evident in all aspects of her work. As a supportive and compassionate colleague, she knows HMFH’s people as well as the firm’s history and sees architecture as a vehicle to positively impact our communities. Deliberate and thoughtful in her work on our Racial Equity and Diversity committee, she ensures that equity, diversity, and inclusion are foundational to our design practice and the profession. Mirtha plays a pivotal role in shaping opportunities for students to see themselves in architecture, whether coordinating internships and career exploration days at HMFH or participating in outreach events in communities throughout the Commonwealth. Through all of this, she helps keep our office operations running smoothly, supports each individual’s professional development, and creates a welcoming environment for all.

“With our 2024 promotions, we are fortunate to honor Matt and Mirtha’s significant contributions to HMFH. Their work and commitment over the years has been essential to the success of our practice and firm operations.”

Lori Cowles | Principal, HMFH Architects

HMFH Bus Tour 2023

HMFH Bus Tour 2023

Summer is in full swing, which means the return of the annual HMFH bus tour! A decades-long tradition, the tour is a great opportunity to get together and visit a few of the firm’s projects in construction. This year we headed to Arlington High School, where Phase II is well underway, then to the high-rise Josiah Quincy Upper School in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Arlington High School

The first stop on the bus tour was Phase II of Arlington’s new 408,500 sf, all-electric high school, which is tracking LEED Platinum certification. Although the project will not be complete until 2025, portions of the school are already open to students due to the carefully planned phased construction. Phase II, the project’s largest phase, includes a central ‘spine’ that accommodates a 30-foot grade change and connects the school’s academic wings with circulation and shared spaces such as the primary dining area, forum stair, and media center. The tour also covered the new humanities wing, courtyard, pre-school, and administrative spaces scheduled to open this Fall as part of Phase II.

Josiah Quincy Upper School

Next, HMFHers headed downtown to see our first high-rise school. Rising eight stories tall on a 0.9-acre site, the new Josiah Quincy Upper School supports the City’s commitment to equitable education and student well-being with common areas such as the gymnasium and auditorium available for community use, a spacious double-height lobby and dining area, and light-filled classrooms surrounding collaborative project areas. When the school opens in the Fall of 2024, students will have access to a rooftop learning and gathering space, which offers impressive views of Boston’s skyline.

2023 Promotions

2023 Promotions

We are pleased to announce the promotion of the following individuals in recognition of their leadership in design, sustainability, research, and client support.

Gary Brock AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Whether tackling a thorny design challenge, sharing a new sustainable strategy with industry peers, or responding to an issue on site, Gary is deliberate and determined in his pursuit of the best design solutions. Well-versed in the technical details, Gary is a resource to clients and colleagues who know that he will not only find the optimal solution but also ensure that it will work in practice. As a Sustainability Leader at HMFH, he applies research-based solutions and a rigorous approach to help clients achieve goals for holistically sustainable, healthy buildings for living and learning.

The success of Gary’s methodology is demonstrated by the design of the new Saugus Middle High School—the first state-funded school in Massachusetts to earn LEED Platinum certification.

Suni Dillard AIA, LEED AP BD+C

As an architect and a Sustainability Leader, Suni is driven by the challenge of socially responsible design that has a positive impact on the health of people and the environment. She empowers clients, colleagues, and communities to set ambitious sustainability goals and then brings her ever-expanding knowledge of high-performance systems, healthy materials and low-carbon design to meet or exceed those goals. By bringing a high level of design excellence to our projects and through her involvement in local, regional and national organizations that advance sustainability initiatives, Suni encourages others to see architecture as a vehicle for climate action.

Suni’s belief that sustainability is an integral part of good design is nowhere more evident than at the Bristol County Agricultural High School’s renewed campus, which earned recognition as the 2022 Green Building of the Year.

Holly Miller AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Since coming to HMFH with more than 25 years of experience in the design of award-winning, complex educational facilities, Holly has demonstrated a level of design leadership and creativity that engenders the trust of clients and colleagues alike. Equally comfortable in an inclusive process bringing stakeholders, clients, and the internal team together around a vision as she is with the technical details, Holly is sought out for questions big and small. Holly’s unwavering pursuit of design excellence is exemplified not only in educational projects of all types but also in the open dialogue she maintains to ensure all voices are heard equally.

Remembering HMFH Founder Stephen Friedlaender, FAIA (1935-2022)

Remembering HMFH Founder Stephen Friedlaender, FAIA (1935-2022)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of one of HMFH’s founding partners, Stephen Friedlaender, FAIA. Steve had a voracious intellectual curiosity. He was interested and knowledgeable about just about everything, whether architecture or almonds, baseball or Bach, raising roses or researching restaurants. Steve was always up for the conversation and the discussion would always be fun and memorable.

He cared deeply about design and engaged fully with clients, consultants, and colleagues in seeking the solutions that were elegant, innovative and appropriate. When selected for the Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), his citation stated, “Stephen Friedlaender has elevated public school design to a high level of significance and excitement. His architecture has transformed the image of the school house and become a beacon of hope for both urban and suburban school systems”.

While leading the firm, guiding his family, and serving on boards for both the Boston Architectural College and New England Conservatory, he always maintained a strong moral compass. His high ethical standards, professionalism, and empathy help set the foundation for HMFH’s practice today. We will remember the way he served up large portions of decency, human kindness, and generosity on a daily basis, always acting as a role model for how to live life with fullness and grace.

HMFH Bus Tour 2022

HMFH Bus Tour 2022

HMFHers embarked on our 2022 bus tour, excited to experience the inspiring design work of our colleagues first-hand! This year we visited Chapman Middle School in Weymouth, MA, and Phase I of Arlington High School in Arlington, MA, which has been open to students since February while construction on the subsequent phases continues just 20 feet away.

Chapman Middle School

The new Chapman Middle School, which will open to students this coming fall, is the largest middle school in Massachusetts and supports a unique curriculum centered around exploratory labs that act as a feeder for the high school’s career technical programs. HMFHers James Liebman, Sara Rosenthal and Matt LaRue led a comprehensive a tour showcasing the school’s exciting new spaces including the Town Square, a central dining area shaped by the volumes of the school’s exploratory labs; the new auditorium, which will support Weymouth’s robust theater arts program; and neighborhood collaborative areas that serve as shared, flexible space for learning outside of the classroom.

Arlington High School

Our next stop was to visit Phase I of the new Arlington High School. Arlington team members Stephanie MacNeil and Alan Pemstein led tours of the new STEAM and performing arts wings, highlighting prominent features including an expansive lobby with bold graphic signage, light-filled classrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a multi-story lightwell that draws natural light deep within the footprint of the STEAM wing. While students enjoy the state-of-the-art new spaces in the STEAM and performing arts wings, construction continues on the remaining phases, which include the central spine, cafeteria, library, courtyard, and athletics wing.

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.