Originally published in Interiors & Sources

09/26/2012

Recovering the Past

As an industry veteran with a soft spot for adaptive reuse projects, The Architectural Team’s co-founder, Bob Verrier, explains why historic buildings are of too great importance to our identity to be considered disposable..

By Robert Nieminen

 
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    Helping to revitalize the area of Dorchester, Mass., the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center was completed in 2010. PHOTO BY ANDY RYAN View larger

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    Robert J. Verrier, FAIA, NCARB, managing principal, co-founded the firm The Architectural Team in 1971, originally called the Boston Architectural Team. PHOTO BY LEN RUBENSTEIN View larger

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    Bourne Mill in Tiverton, R.I., involved the adaptive reuse of 11 existing mill buildings—including the oldest cotton gin in America—into mixed-income housing. Shown above are the resident common areas and management office. PHOTO BY NAT REA View larger

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    Bourne Mill in Tiverton, R.I., involved the adaptive reuse of 11 existing mill buildings—including the oldest cotton gin in America—into mixed-income housing. Shown above is the billiard room and public lounge. PHOTO BY NAT REA View larger

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    While the lobby is like its heart, the 250-seat theater and chapel presents the soul of the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Dorchester, Mass. PHOTO BY ANDY RYAN View larger

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    Watermill Lofts, completed in 2010, represent the final phase of the historic conversion of the former Baker Chocolate Factory complex in Dorchester Lower Falls, Mass., into a vibrant mixed-use community. Water Mill is an old boiler building, one of eight historic factory buildings the firm converted into multifamily housing. PHOTO BY ANDY RYAN View larger

Bob Verrier has never met a historic building he didn’t love. In fact, the award-winning architect speaks so endearingly about them you get the impression that he might get choked up as he recalls some of the more notable projects he’s been involved with over the years. When Verrier describes the run-down mills in the Boston area where he has worked as an architect for more than five decades, restoring them and giving them new life, it’s as if he’s talking about old friends.

Such kinship with one’s work is a rarity these days—especially one that is born out of an abiding respect for the past and for what architecture represents to communities.

“I’ve always been interested in old buildings because they’re so incredibly beautiful, and when you see them empty and not being used, it’s a terrible thing to see,” explains Verrier, FAIA, vice president and managing principal of Chelsea, Mass.-based The Architectural Team (TAT), which he co-founded in 1971. “Many of these historic buildings serve as a gateway into communities, towns and cities, and ponder the historic past of these cities. They are a very important fabric to these neighborhoods.”

His affinity for historic structures began at the ripe age of 19, when, at the suggestion of John McKee, then principal architect at Symmes, Maini & McKee Associates, the young architect took a trip to Europe. He spent five months traveling the continent, exploring how people and architecture relate, and learning the importance of maintaining historic structures.

“Nobody would tear down an old structure in Europe,” Verrier says emphatically. “They would always maintain them, repair them. And as I said, these buildings become the fabric of the neighborhoods and the cities, and that’s what makes the cities so interesting and gives them vitality—the old structures.”

To illustrate his point, Verrier notes that during the Industrial Revolution, factories and mills were the focal point around which towns were built because they employed hundreds of people and represented an unprecedented opportunity for upward mobility.

“One of the interesting things about these buildings is that, once you go in them, they’re intriguing. You walk through and you can imagine all the people working with all the equipment they had, and the buildings were one of the most important things happening to these people their entire lives,” he explains. “They worked there, they shopped there, they had medical care, and it’s all because of the mill building and the owners of the mills.”


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

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Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com


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