David Hacin Guest Edits for Architecture Boston!

This month David acted as Guest Editor for Architecture Boston. The theme of the issue: *Change.

Front page spread

Choosing Change 
Twenty-five years ago I made a change. After I
graduated from the Harvard GSD and was seemingly
destined for a job in a large New York architectural
firm, a series of events came together and, against
all reason, I upended my life and chose to stay in
Boston. At the time, Boston was a much grittier place
with an uncertain future and not the kind of leading
metropolis that I yearned to live in. The Central Artery
and elevated Orange Line rumbled through town, and
Jordan Marsh and Filene’s still anchored Downtown
Crossing — all their days numbered. Still, I found the
juxtaposition of old and new both unique and beautiful,
and it seemed like a place where the built environment
was valued for its history as well as its potential. The
decision to stay was a course correction — and I’m glad I
made it. Years later, it is no secret to anyone who knows
me that I love Boston.
    Change, much of it unsettling, is in the air.
Technology and the culture that has emerged from
it have connected us to the world more fully than
ever before. From the rapid development of emerging
markets to the unwinding global financial crisis,
little is happening around the world that does not in
some way affect us here.
    Although many of us seem not to realize it, over
the past two decades, Boston has become a “global
city.” In many fields, Boston is acknowledged as an
influential and innovative idea factory for a world
where no one can afford to fall behind. I often wonder
if we, as architects and designers, recognize, never
mind embrace, this aspect of our identity. Are we
nimble, innovative, and willing to change course to
best promote our collective concerns for the
built environment, both here and elsewhere? In short,
will Boston be an avant-garde crucible of design
innovation and thinking in the 21st century as it has
been in the past? The choice is ours.
    Here at home, with a re-energized mission of
outreach, the Boston Society of Architects is making big
plans by opening an ambitious new public space on
the burgeoning waterfront — the BSA Space. Similarly,
after 15 years under the stewardship of its founding
editor, Elizabeth Padjen faia, ArchitectureBoston will
soon welcome a new editor, Renée Loth. It is an honor
to be given the opportunity to be the guest editor at
this particular moment, bridging the work of these two
extraordinary women.
    So it seems appropriate that in this issue we consider
notions of “change”: change that is positive, proactive,
and forward-looking. This issue asks several questions
about our relationship to change. Do we need to
challenge Boston’s design culture to take the lead
from other area industries and become more catalytic
and progressive (“Why Boston?”)? What do our
community’s thought leaders suggest are the most
important ways to change our city today (“Agendas for
Change”)? Can we rethink the historically oppositional
relationship between Boston and Cambridge in a globally
competitive era (“Two Cities: One Future”)? Do recent
graduates believe that, without change, the profession
of archi-tecture can be saved (“Wide Open”)? Also
in the issue, a possibly painful but certainly amusing
investigation into the ways that nonarchitects view us
(“Architects Perceived”), a photo essay highlighting the
design of the BSA Space, and some last thoughts about
making Boston world class, livable, and humane.
Will Boston be an avant-garde crucible of
design innovation and thinking in the 21st century
as it has been in the past? The choice is ours.

These are exciting times for the BSA and for the city
ArchitectureBoston calls home. When 19th-century
Boston was growing and some of our city’s finest works
of architecture were rising on the newly filled Back
Bay, the great essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that
“nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
He is still right. ■

David Hacin, FAIA
Guest Editor

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