Meet Architect Sindu Meier, Whose Boston Library Project Won This Year’s Prestigious Harleston Parker Medal

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Sindu Meier

BOSTON– Boston Public Library’s Central Library Renovation Project this year won prestigious Harleston Parker Medal as well as People’s Choice Award last week.  Granted by Boston Society of Architects, the award recognizes “the single most beautiful building or other structure” built in the metropolitan Boston area in the past 10 years.

Boston Public Library’s Johnson Building Transformation project was designed by William Rawn Associates Architects and managed by the firm’s Senior Associate Sindu Meier.

In an exclusive interview, Ms. Meier talks about the Boston Library Project. Here are excerpts from the interview:

Question: How challenging was this project and what was so unique?

Sindu Meier: The Johnson Wing renovation posed many challenges-a rigid nine square planning grid and structure, landmarked building by an influential  modernist and post-modernist architect, and many stakeholders groups.  These challenges also made the Johnson Wing Transformation such an interesting and fun project for the whole team.

Photo by Bruce Martin

Q: How did your team  plan for this project?

SM: During the Master Plan we spent a good deal of time researching the writings of Phillip Johnson and developing a set of Johnsonian principles to honor the original design intent while thinking about how the BPL could better serve its patrons today/tomorrow.

This allowed us to be transformative in our design while still being respectful of Phillip Johnson design and the Boston Landmarks commission.

Photo by Bruce Martin

Q: When and how did you get involved with this project?

SM: I started on the BPL Johnson Wing Transformation project in July 2013 at the beginning of the design phase.

Q:   How do you feel about this BSA honor?

SM: Our entire design team is thrilled and humbled to receive the Harleston Parker Medal. The BPL was a labor of love. Libraries are a valuable civic institution and many of our team are committed to them both at work and in our own activities. It was an honor to receive the BSA’s highest level design award for our work at the BPL at the Gala last week.

Architects Elizabeth Bondaryk and Sindu Meier. Photo by INE News.

Q: What do think impressed the jury?

SM: As part of the selection process, the jury visited the BPL and we give them a tour to highlight the major design features and interventions. Most of the jury was aware of the condition of the Johnson Wing before the project and I think it was the level of transformation and opening of the library to Boylston Street that most resonated with them.

Members of the jury were: Yugon Kim, founding owner and partner, IKD; associate and director, TSKP Architects Boston; Karin Goodfellow, director, Boston Art Commission; Cynthia Smith FASLA, vice president and principal, Halvorson Design Partnership; Anne-Sophie Divenyi AIA, senior capital project manager, Harvard University, Office of Physical Resources and Planning; Malia Lazu, president, EpiCenter Community; Lee Moreau AIA, principal, Continuum Alexa Pinard, urban designer, Boston Planning & Development Authority; Dante Ramos, Ideas editor, The Boston Globe; Kishore Varanasi, principal, CBT Architects; Richard A. Yeager AIA, assistant director of planning and design, Boston College.

Photo by Robert Benson

The Harleston Parker Medal award was established in 1921 by J. Harleston Parker in memory of his father. The first award was granted by the Boston Society of Architects/AIA in 1923. The intent of the award is to acknowledge the “single most beautiful building or other structure” built in the metropolitan Boston area in the past 10 years.

Divya Meier with Mayor Marty Walsh and BPL President David Leonard

Ms. Meier holds a B. Arch. degree from Carnegie Mellon University. She joined William Rawn Associates Architects in 2012.

Other projects on which Ms. Meier has worked include East Boston Branch Library, Boston; Valente Branch Library, Cambridge, MA; Harvard Business School, Tata Hall and Klarman Hall, Boston; Northwestern University, Residence Hall, Chicago, IL; Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, Cleveland, OH; Eastern Connecticut State University, Fine Arts Instructional Center, Willimantic, CT; The Winsor School, Performing Arts, Health, and Wellness Center, Boston; King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools & Community Complex, Cambridge.

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