Case Studies

Architectural Resources Cambridge

Leading the charge in sustainability and responsive design for 45 years

Boston boasts one of the highest concentrations of prestigious colleges and universities in the nation. The historic city is home to thousands of students from all walks of life, many staying beyond graduation to enter a range of industries, including the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors. For 45 years, Architectural Resources Cambridge (ARC) has helped support the growth and viability of Boston and beyond, proudly serving a range of academic, including higher education and independent schools, as well as life science and corporate clients.

Founded in 1969, ARC has become a nationally recognized architectural, planning and interior design firm, renowned for its ability to achieve award-winning sustainable design. Since ARC’s inception, the firm has focused on creative, thoughtful design solutions that are functional and efficient, while respecting architectural context. ARC has earned a reputation for exceptional client service, design and technical excellence and promoting environmental responsibility.

A Bostonian through and through

“ARC began in 1969 with six original partners,” shares Philip L. Laird, A.I.A, LEED A.P., president of ARC. “The founders were working together at The Architects Collaborative [TAC] in the 1960s. They then helped launch Benjamin Thompson and Associates in 1967, but eventually decided to strike out on their own again in 1969.”

ARC broke into the competitive Boston market in the higher education and retail sectors with its first major project, the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. “At first, the firm focused on a combination of institutional, retail and even some residential work,” recalls Laird, who joined ARC 10 years later in 1979. “Metpath was ARC’s first big name clinical laboratory client, which helped jump-start the company’s science and tech expertise.”

After graduating from the University of Colorado, Laird headed back home to the East Coast to join the ranks at ARC. “I was born and raised on the East Coast in Delaware and I always thought Boston would be an interesting place to practice what I had learned in school,” he tells. “I’ve been with ARC ever since and am proud to say we will celebrate 45 years in business in June 2014.”

Just over the Charles River, ARC calls Cambridge, Mass., home; however, the company has grown to serve a wide range of clients throughout New England, across the U.S. and even into Asia. “We have continued to expand steadily and sustainably over time,” notes Laird. “When I joined we had 20 employees, now we’re around 75.”

Major markets and services

ARC continues to serve major markets in the academic, life science, athletic and corporate sectors. “Our projects are wide-ranging,” explains Laird. “From life sciences to student residences to academic and athletic facilities, we offer expertise in a wide range of project types.”

The company delivers architectural services such as schematic design, design development, construction documentation, BIM modeling and LEED-certified design. “We also specialize in interior design, from space planning to furniture and equipment selection to inventory coordination,” notes Laird. “We also offer master planning, site analysis, programming, laboratory planning, athletic facility planning, conceptual studies, preliminary scheduling, budgeting and permitting.”

When the area’s most renowned institutions are looking to expand, ARC is called upon. The company recently completed the UMass Medical School’s $378 million Albert Sherman Center, allowing the university to enter a new era of biomedical research, education and campus collaboration. Home to Nobel Prize winning research, the Albert Sherman Center is the new cornerstone of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act.

“We’re finishing a $137 million teaching and research building set to open in August 2014 for Temple University [Temple],” details Laird. “We are also in design for a significant process development facility for Bristol Myers Squibb and a new laboratory and classroom building for Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I. On the athletics side, we’re doing a major stadium renovation and hockey center expansion for Harvard University and another sports complex project at Worcester State University. We recently completed a new squash center for Middlebury College and a historic academic building renovation at Phillips Exeter Academy.”

Building a sustainable future

Clients throughout New England seek out ARC for the company’s technical ability and project delivery, but also for the firm’s highly regarded sustainability goals. “Every year Architect Magazine ranks architecture firms nationally,” reveals Laird. “In 2013, ARC was ranked No. 7 overall and No. 3 in regards to sustainable practices.”

According to Laird, ARC is dedicated to evaluating alternate design concepts for all projects with the goal of promoting sustainable and healthful environments, as well as improving the building’s overall performance. “The success of ARC’s LEED approach and process is demonstrated by the firm’s numerous certified projects, which include Gold, Silver and certified level ratings,” he continues. “Additionally, ARC has signed onto the AIA 2030 Challenge, agreeing to make sustainability-oriented organizational changes within the firm’s operation and working toward the goal of 100 percent of our design projects to be carbon neutral by 2030.”

One of ARC’s recent accomplishments in green building is the Biomass Heating and Cogeneration Plant at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. In 2012, ARC partnered with Rist-Frost Shumway Engineering to develop a plan to reduce the college’s reliance on oil through the design of a new 15,800-square-foot biomass heating plant with cogeneration. The plant features twin 400-horsepower biomass-fueled boilers that generate up to 10 percent of the campuses electricity, burning local wood waste in place of oil.

“We selected a prominent glass enclosed façade at the south corner of the facility to help strike a balance between complementing the existing plant and elegantly showcasing the facility’s interior operations,” shares Laird. The facility reached LEED Gold certification, making Colby the fourth campus in the country to become carbon neutral. “Their goal was to be carbon neutral by 2015, but we helped meet that goal and beat that deadline by two years,” adds Laird.

But that’s just how ARC operates; whatever the client’s goal or need, the firm goes above and beyond to achieve it and the result is a kind of longevity most companies dream of. “We’re continuing to grow over time,” says Laird. “We haven’t had the huge fluctuations in staff like other firms. We managed to get through the recession without layoffs and we’re planning to expand into new markets.”

When Architectural Resources Cambridge turns 45 years old in June, the firm will surely have lots to celebrate as one of Boston’s most trusted architectural leaders.

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Spring 2018



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