For a business to bustle and attract customers, several aspects such as designs, moods, and space should be considered. And as Cambridge is the fifth most populous state in the state, commercial businesses should take note of how to best design their complexes and establishments to win over the many possible customers against their competition.
To accomplish just that, we’ve compiled a list of the 15 top ranking commercial architects in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These firms were chosen based on their projects, experiences, awards, recognitions and background.
700 Massachusetts Avenue 4th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02139
PRA Architects was founded and established by Preston Richardson who has over 40 years of experience in the business. Richardson also participated in The Boston Architectural College as an associate instructor, as well as a frequent thesis critic. His firm currently has well over 30 years of service for its clients in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and focuses on a wide array of projects, including commercial ones. The firm has received several awards such as the 2016-17 Preservation Award, Cambridge Historical Commission 2018-19 Preservation Award, and Cambridge Historical Commission.
The firm’s portfolio provides numerous projects for its clients, varying per its clients’ needs. One of its notable works is the Kendall Boiler & Tank Co. Restoration. The Cambridge Historical Commission approved the restoration of the structures, which were built in the late 1800s and included masonry restoration, thorough roof repairs, and the reconstruction and remodeling of other features such as doors in original historic masonry openings.
Peter Quinn Architects
259 Elm Street Suite 301, Somerville, MA 02144
Peter Quinn established Peter Quinn Architects back in 1997. Quinn, having over 30 years of experience in the field of architecture, is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Architecture degree as well as being a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). With his leadership and expertise, his firm now has over 24 years of experience and focuses on various projects, including commercial complexes, and has earned awards such as Somerville Historic Preservation Commission Award (2016). It has also been featured in press such as New England Real Estate Journal Boston Magazine.
The firm’s projects feature two styles of work that clients can choose from. The portfolio provided has a diverse set of examples from residential, multi-family structures, to commercial buildings. An example of its commercial project is its BonChon restaurant. It is a full build-out of a Korean restaurant and entails built-in table burners and other Asian-style decor. Roughly 100 customers can be served at once inside the establishment.
Chan Mock Architects
192 Hampshire Street Cambridge, MA 02139
Commercial design is one of the specialties of Chan Mock Architects, which was founded by Harvard University Graduate School of Design, MA Architecture finishers Anne Mock (AIA), and Christoper Chan. Together, they have been leading their firm which has been running for the past 27 years. With its efforts and expertise, the firm has been a LEED-certified company since its inception, gaining recognition from the AIA and NCARB, to name a few.
The firm’s portfolio provides several projects with over three styles to choose from, ranging from small-scale designs such as offices to large-scale complexes such as pharmaceuticals and headquarters. An example of its commercial work is ARIAD PHARMACEUTICALS, which aimed to assist a growing pharmaceutical company. The construction comprised laboratories, conference rooms, a 200-seat theatre, a conference center, and a central servery and dining hall, in addition to open and closed office spaces. Warm hues, woods, and glass were used in the interior finishes to create an appealing, comfortable workspace.
625 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Founded by Hans Strauch in 1989, HDS Architecture is a Cambridge-based international architectural design firm that specializes in distinctive commercial, retail, institutional, and multi-use architectural design. Alongside these services, it also offers sophisticated high-end residences and estates. It has been LEED-certified and recognized by several associations such as AIA and the Boston Society of Architects. Even more so, it has been featured in publications such as Eco Home Magazine and Boston Magazine.
The firm’s expertise in commercial projects is evident in its portfolio, with several examples like the Fresh Pond Parkway. This retail center houses several establishments such as Bank of America and Sherwin Williams. Its strategic location along one of Boston’s major vehicular routes makes it a go-to retail location. It features rustic brick details and expansive glass walls for storefronts.
Office of Mark Armstrong Architect
61 Vaughn Ave., Newton, MA 02461
The Office of Mark Armstrong Architect (OMA) was founded by Mark Armstrong (AIA, LEED-accredited), who has a notable reputation, earning various achievements in the field of architecture such as Bachelor of Arts in Wesleyan University and Master of Architecture in Yale University School of Architecture among others. His firm is also an award-winning establishment, with several awards such as 2014 Best of Boston Home™, Boston Home, 2004 AIA New England Region Honor Award, and Boston Society of Architects Honor Award. This feat also had them recognized by publications such as The International Design Magazine and Architecture Boston Interiors Magazine.
The firm specializes in a lot of designs and styles, with commercials being one of them. From offices, restaurants, and even clothing shops, OMA has worked on several projects with quality. An example of its work is the renovation of the MIT School of Architecture. The chosen design was meant to stimulate a comfortable learning environment as well as provide space for exhibition.
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
SMMA began with a vision of tackling design through a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing together architects, engineers, and planners under one roof. The firm was founded in 1955 by graduates of MIT and Rensselaer School of Architecture and has since grown into one of the industry’s most respected design firms. SMMA has recently been awarded with the BSA 2018 Design Sustainability Award, ACEC/MA 2020 Bronze Engineering Excellence Award, and A4LE New England Ed Kirkbride Award in 2015, 2017, and 2019.
The firm specializes in a vast range of works, from K-12 and government projects to corporate offices and science and technology buildings. A notable recent success was the custom design of Cambridge Mobile Telematics’ new headquarters in the heart of Kendall Square. The new design showcases CMT’s cutting-edge products through an inspired use of environmental graphics while providing an engaging workspace for staff.
650 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
Since founding AW-ARCH nearly 30 years ago, Alex Anmahian (AIA) and Nick Winton (AIA) have explored architecture’s capacity to engage community and impact the public realm. The research-driven firm is known for design and construction innovation, and for open coordination and critical dialogue with its network of trusted design and engineering partners.
Numerous AW projects demonstrate the firm’s emphasis on Community, Identity, and Resilience as key drivers of its work, contributing to its reputation for designing constructible, sustainable architecture that responds to its surroundings. This is evident throughout the spectrum of their portfolio, from the ICA/Boston Watershed to the Ankara Tower, to Gemma Observatory, to their work at academic institutions, including Brown University and Harvard University.
AW has been widely published in such media as Architect Magazine, Fast Company, The New York Times, and many others. Notable recognition includes awards for design excellence and sustainability from the Boston Society of Architects, The Architect’s Newspaper, and the American Architecture Prize. One recent example of AW’s work is The Watershed, the ICA/Boston’s new, innovative art space that invites the public to experience large-scale art installations, responds to the climate imperatives of its waterfront location, and engages the history of its East Boston neighborhood.
130 Bishop Allen Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139
Hill Miller Friedlaender Hollander (HMFH), founded by Fellow of American Institute of Architects (FAIA) associates John Miller, Mario Torroella, and Stephen Friedlaender, is an architectural firm dedicated to the management of facilities that enhance the clients’ experience. It designs and renovates spaces across various structures, whether private or public, living or workspace, or even campuses.
In 1969, when three Harvard Graduate School of Design classmates and their mentor, Walter Hill, a well-known school designer, established a firm. HMFH, with its new creative approach to school design, was rapidly recognized, with awards earned from the landmark Brewster Elementary School and Charlestown High School. The firm continues to receive accolades and certifications such as the Excellence in Architecture Design Award and FAIA-certified recognition. AIA New Hampshire’s Forum magazine also featured the firm in one of its releases.
One of the firm’s notable projects is 130 Bishop Allen Drive. HMFH was in charge of renovating the exterior and interior (notably the lobby) design. The renovation features the addition of a new terrazzo flooring, a built-in front desk, and the restoration of the original double-height ceiling to promote openness and visibility.
560 Harrison Ave. Suite 301 Boston, MA 02118
In 1985, AIA-certified partners Rodolfo Machado and Jorge Silvetti founded Machado Silvetti. This architecture and urban design firm has created exemplary buildings in the U.S. as well as abroad. This internationally recognized architectural firm does projects in various markets. These include education, museums, housing, commercial, urban places, and master planning. It builds, renovates, and expands distinctive structures and spaces.
It earned esteemed awards such as the Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education Individual Recipient from AIA and Honorable Mention in Unbuilt Landscape. In addition, several publications such as Glass Magazine, Architect Magazine, Architectural Journal, and Wall Street Journal have all mentioned the firm in various publications.
One of the firm’s notable project is The Shady Hill School, a take on an education campus. The school takes pride in its simplicity and environmental awareness, which is evident in the design of both the art studios and the gyms. Space is managed accordingly to provide performance conditions on the facilities, such as the gyms. Some of the themes added to the designs are adding to the school’s green design initiatives.
Merge Architects Inc.
332 Congress St. Floor 6, Boston, MA 02210
Elizabeth Whittaker, AIA, is the founding principal of Merge Architects who built her reputation from the ground up. She graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design with Distinction, and has since gone on to serve multiple organizations such as the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), AIA Board of Directors and other more similar associations. After a while, she founded Merge Architects, Inc. in 2003 and led the firm to serve the community for many years. With awards such as the 2014 Design Vanguard Award from Architectural Record (which recognizes the top ten emerging firms in the world) and publications like Harvard Magazine to back it up, the firm is guaranteed to meet the expectations of every client.
The firm operates on a number of projects for a diverse set of clients, as can be seen in its portfolio. They work on commercial, institutional, and even residential structures and designs. Such an example of its commercial projects is the Kendall Square Workspace. The design makes use of abstract themes in material, texture, color, graphics and form, with the notion being that each piece gives off a collective experience to the clients.
Paul Lukez Architecture
1310 Broadway Suite 104, Somerville, MA 02144
Paul Lukez Architecture (PLA) was established back in 1992. The firm’s charter calls for creating transformative and sustainable places. The team does so by working collaboratively with clients and expert consultants. Listening is a core value.
The founder of PLA is Paul Lukez, FAIA, who taught for over 20 years at MIT, Washington University and other (inter)national universities. He authored Suburban Transformations (Princeton Architectural Press) – a book about transforming suburbs into more sustainable places.
The firm’s design team is committed to producing high quality design that serves clients and their needs. The firm’s mission is to be a place “Where Creative and Sustainable Design meets Service!” PLA’s approach to its client’s projects is tailored to meet a clients’ particular needs. Whether big or small, the firm converts design challenges into unique design opportunities. Leveraging forward thinking technologies and sustainable design strategies, PLA strives to create projects that bring joy and pride to our clients.
An example of one of PLA’s projects includes the design of a unique Medical Simulation Center for a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey. The space is part of a larger corporate HQ and is designed to foster creative collaboration amongst its users and audiences.
1050 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
Founded by seven ambitious architects, designers, and artists, CambridgeSeven was formed to do the right thing not only for its customers but also for public places. In the past 59 years, the firm has evolved into a community of innovators and problem solvers who collaborate under the direction of its leaders. President Gary Johnson (AIA) ensures that together, the firm’s projects reflect new, intelligent design solutions derived from a diverse set of ideas and techniques refined over decades of expertise. CambridgeSeven has received international recognition for its creative work in architecture, urban and interior planning and design, and is the recipient of the esteemed American Institute of Architects Firm Award.
CambridgeSeven has impressed its clients with innovative but sensitive designs for almost five decades by identifying and acting on the specific potential present in each project. The firm is driven by the idea that each project, no matter how large or little, is an opportunity to apply radical concepts. A prime example of this approach is the upcoming project, The Foundry in Cambridge. CambridgeSeven will seek an ambitious renovation of the brick and timber-framed industrial structure. The renovated project will serve as a crossroads for the visual and performing arts, entrepreneurship, technology, and workforce education
Maryann Thompson Architects
741 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472
Maryann Thompson Architects (MTA) is a Cambridge-based architecture firm that provides various services to both public and private clients. Since 2000, the firm has been developing sustainable, locally oriented architectural structures that strive to enhance the perceptual aspects of the environments in which it builds. To help with this, Maryann Thompson (FAIA) and Martha Foss (AIA) employ LEED-Accredited experts, integrating an interdisciplinary approach to the firm in which landscape and environmental issues are central to its design thinking. Under their leadership, the firm has received three AIA National Honor Awards, several AIA New England Design Honor Awards, and BSA Honor Awards for Design Excellence. Landscape Architecture Magazine, Insite, and Art in New England have also featured the firm.
Maryann’s profound philosophy in architecture has mainly contributed to the firm’s success. She was also a founding partner in Thompson and Rose Architects before establishing MTA. During this period, she earned an AIA Young Architects Award in 1998. While holding degrees in architecture and landscape architecture, her work emphasizes tectonics, materials, and a creative approach to design, reconnecting buildings with nature. One notable structure that incorporates this approach is the Rialto Restaurant and Bar. Light flows through the onyx-topped bar’s stone surface to spotlight the wait staff from below, turning the simple act of drink creation and service into a performance. The concept of Rialto utilizes expanding spatial sequences intertwined with periods of calm and intimacy.