Baker Design Group
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Jack Porter
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Since 1997, Stephen Baker and his team at Boston-based Baker Design Group (BDG) have delivered innovative solutions by bridging the disciplines of architecture, interior, industrial and exhibit design and planning to transform the way end users work and collaborate. “When a mixture of innovation and design is necessary in any particular industry to transform the way people work and interact – that’s the kind of opportunity I can’t resist because if done well, so many people benefit,” says Stephen, founder and president of BDG.
The single-source solution
Stephen launched BDG after being in the architectural-design world for 15 years. “I started BDG 18 years ago out of wanting to offer clients a unique kind of personal level of service in architecture, interior and industrial design, and media-technology integration through a single source,” he explains.
Stephen says he’s always had a passion for building, solving problems and most of all, helping others. “I’ve found no matter the project or client, there’s something to learn from everyone,” he says. “At the end of the day, my profession is just elegant problem solving on all scales.”
This starts with listening to clients, says Stephen. “We’re in tune with our clients at BDG because we slow down and listen to their needs,” he says.
Since its inception, BDG has taken off rapidly and has now worked with clients in 12 countries. “BDG now has 25 employees and our diverse background of experience helps us define the design connections and opportunities that lead to breakthrough results and innovations for our clients,” says Stephen.
Every BDG project is the pursuit of thoughtful design solutions that deliver high performance results in the areas of sustainability, energy performance, timeless materials, strategic programming, design originality and a strong return on investment. Since forming, BDG has landed the opportunity to work on landmark plans from the 2004 G8 Summit to Unilever’s Executive Education Centers in Singapore and London.
While based in Boston, BDG has gained global footing over the last decade. “Our design-delivery method and collaborative spirit have created opportunities for us to work with clients in 12 countries,” says Stephen. “Each project embraces the unique nature of the region, people, and culture, while delivering world-class results to fulfill the project’s ambitions.”
To accomplish international goals, BDG collaborates with local talent. “We establish consultants and collaborators by subcontracting necessary project components to local design and engineering firms,” explains Stephen. “We partner with professionals in the country we’re working in, taking a collaborative approach to the roles and responsibilities on the project; this helps facilitate the process of sharing expertise while working with local codes, construction techniques and documentation in the language of the region.”
This approach has served BDG well around the world, but the firm is building steady at home in all corners of the U.S. “From buildings to furniture design to the master planning of campuses – our projects are extremely diverse,” considers Stephen. “In 2004, we designed the furniture for the main venue at the G8 Summit, in Sea Island, Georgia. We faced many challenges to deliver the kind of heirloom quality furniture that was desired as a keepsake of the event while integrating the technologies required for an event broadcasted worldwide. All design and construction occurred under the watchful eyes of the Secret Service.”
A total transformation
One of BDG’s proudest accomplishments is the company’s work with the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Gutman Library (HGSE). “This isn’t our first project at Harvard, we’ve had the pleasure of working with many of the Schools at Harvard, but this project really showcases how a building renovation can help transform and foster a positive culture on a campus,” says Stephen.
Achieving LEED Platinum status, the 30,000-square-foot renovation of the 1970s library building included the repositioning of the staff and offices, along with the integration of a variety of student collaborative environments supported by a new café, reading room, fireplaces, vertical garden walls, including many new individual and group study areas. “The response to the transformation of the library has been very positive,” notes Stephen. “The campus now has a warm and welcoming central venue to support all students, faculty, staff and visitors.”
Thinking outside of the box
In Needham, Massachusetts, the company is in the midst of another massive coordination and communication effort. BDG is designing and planning TripAdvisor’s 282,000-square-foot world headquarters.
The building, along with its collaborative working environments, are inspired by the traditional brick and steel manufacturing buildings often found in New England, creating the timeless appeal of a loft building to house and support TripAdvisor’s team. “TripAdvisor wanted to create an environment that reflects its unique culture – fast, collaborative, and smart,” says Stephen.
As part of BDG’s commitment to the field of education and innovation, the firm has been developing a new and personal experience for online education. GatherEducation is a few months away from releasing a software platform that allows teaching, learning, and collaborating online in a very natural and intuitive way. “We have been working for three years to remove the obstacles to teaching and learning online, and anticipate the software will launch sometime in fall 2015,” says Stephen.
With every project comes a unique learning opportunity as Baker Design Group continues to transform the way end users interact with out-of-the-ordinary design and elegant problem solving. “We are grateful for our clients who have entrusted us with their project hopes and ambitions.” says Stephen.
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