BLDUP Spotlight: David Bois
Bldup Spotlight is a weekly feature where readers get insights on developments around the city and get to know local industry experts. Our second feature is with David Bois, a principal at Arrowstreet. David is a project leader with a broad range of architectural experience gained during his more than 20 years of practice. After receiving his degree from Rensselaer, he developed specialties in hospitality and mixed-use projects. As a hospitality expert, he has worked extensively in the planning and design of hotels for national hotel chains and local operators alike, ranging in size from a new 800-room convention center hotel to an experiential 50-room inn and spa.
What is the last book you read that you would recommend as a "must read" to the construction and design community? Why did you find this book so important?
David Bois: “The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts”. While it’s tough to accept the basic premise of the book; that technology will contribute to the decline of professional relevancy – it is important to remember that as technology continues to improve, the role of Architects (as well as other experts in professional fields) needs to adapt as well. Though the book does not leave you with a sense of comfort for the future, it is important to understand what could happen if we complacently approach our profession without anticipating the impacts of outside influencers. For me, this book reinforces the importance of preserving the need for human connection and intuition in an ever-changing professional landscape.
Do you have a daily or weekly routine that you follow? If so, how do you feel it has contributed to your success?
David Bois: Aside from my daily venti Starbucks? I’m an early riser, it’s great to beat the traffic and be present early in the office. The quiet times at both ends of the day are when I do my best thinking For me, early mornings offer a focused time to problem solve and be creative. (I probably shouldn’t have admitted to this in writing, as now I’ll have no excuse to avoid early site meetings…)
During the course of your career, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it? What other accomplishments hold a special place in your heart and why?
David Bois: I, like a number of people in leadership positions, feel the biggest challenge in my career was the transition from “doer” to “leader”. It took time to learn to let go and realize and embrace that other perspectives, while possibly not the approach initially conceived, often lead to unanticipated design opportunities. Especially in architecture, collaboration and buy-in create a sense of ownership for the entire team (owner, design, engineering, and construction) which results in the best buildings. What I love most about Arrowstreet today is the way in which we bring passion and purpose to every commission, establishing collaborative and innovative teams that partner experienced designers with young talent to push the boundaries of how architecture is defined and practiced.
What do you foresee for the future of Boston architecture? Are there any challenges on the horizon that need special attention in the project design phase.
David Bois: Adaptive reuse and vertical additions. With less and less sites available, and the capacity limitations of our system, we will be forced to look for creative design solutions for the adaptive reuse of existing buildings in Boston. Sustainability and resiliency are discussed constantly in my office, not just as a checklist, but as a holistic approach to building design from material efficiency to energy conservation and generation while minimizing the impacts on infrastructure which are already being stressed.
What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
David Bois: Our project at Congress Square for Related Beal is really transforming an entire city block with the restoration of a series of historic banks, dating back to the early 1900’s and reinvents them with a new, seven story vertical addition floating above. I think it is a great example of how to approach the future of architecture in Boston.
What new technology has proved or will prove important to your industry?
David Bois: There are so many technological advances influencing our work right now. The obvious are the 3D design and parametric modeling tools which allow architects to draw building elements that could not be easily expressed on a two dimensional sheet of paper. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality continue to change how we convey design ideas to people. Autonomous vehicles will have an impact on all aspects of our lives - at Arrowstreet, we’re researching how it will impact cities, streets and buildings. On the construction side, mass customization (especially when tied to the 3D design tools) has provided us with design opportunities that would have been economically out of reach in the past – a great example of this is the custom soffit we developed for Congress Square. To create a space between the historic and new building, a series of “third spaces”: outdoor decks designed as informal spaces for people to work, socialize and connect are defined with a rippled “ceiling”. We designed this parametrically to reflect light and create the illusion of the new floating above the old – this model was shared directly with the fabricator of the architectural composite FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastic) and marks the first installation of this material in the city of Boston.
Have you had a mentor or someone who has helped you during your career? What are the most valuable lessons you learned from that person?
David Bois: I’ve been lucky to work with so many people that I’ve learned from throughout my career and really believe that we can learn something from almost everyone we encounter. If I had to pick one person, it would be Bruce Brook. Before coming to Boston, I worked for his small boutique design firm in New Hampshire. I was straight out of school and very green but he allowed me to have real responsibilities, make mistakes and learn from them. Most importantly, he taught me the value of lateral thinking – a skill that I still carry with me today in my design approach.
What do you hope for the future of your company in the next 30 years? What legacy do you want to leave?
David Bois: Constant change! The only way to survive is to adapt and I hope that our company continues to believe that. I’ve been fortunate to be part of multiple transitions during my 20+ years at Arrowstreet – this has allowed the firm to grow and thrive for over 50 years. I hope that I am remembered as someone that never accepted the status quo, always pushed for something better and didn’t rely on past performance as an indicator for future success.
What is a favorite quote that inspires you or you strive to live by?
David Bois: “One of the great beauties of architecture is that each time, it is like life starting all over again” - Renzo Piano
David Bois is a Principal at Arrowstreet, an award-winning, Boston-based architecture, and design firm, comprised of over 95 architects, interior designers, planners, and graphic designers who are astute observers, bringing diverse perspectives to every venture.
David is a project leader with a broad range of architectural experience gained during his more than 20 years of practice. After receiving his degree from Rensselaer, David developed specialties in hospitality and mixed-use projects. He has been involved in complex public/private development partnerships including multiple city and state agencies alongside private developers during the successful early stages of projects in Worcester and Revere. As a hospitality expert, he has worked extensively in the planning and design of hotels for national hotel chains and local operators alike, ranging in size from a new 800-room convention center hotel to an experiential 50-room inn and spa. In all projects, he strives to balance quality in design with the realities of budget, technology, and construction.Arrowstreet >>