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January 5, 2010 

SMMA (architecture, engineering, and planning) says what few can: “We’re still hiring.” New staff tally for 2009, 27, with the latest starting yesterday and bringing its roster to 162. The reason for the growth, we’re told: repeat clients for the 55-year-old Cambridge firm.
SMMA’s Mark Spaulding, Jacquelyn Behles, and Rafael Gurevich

SMMA’s Mark Spaulding, Jacquelyn Behles, and Rafael Gurevich savor the just completed Blue Cross Blue Shield office tower in Providence, overlooking Water Place Park. “With the economy sinking around it, for a while it was the only crane downtown,” recalled Mark. To cap off that achievement, he spent much of the holiday with one of his favorite foods: “a very good beer.”

Ara Krafian, here with fellow engineer Brian Lawlor

Ara Krafian, here with fellow engineer Brian Lawlor, says that by spanning corporate, educational, and technology projects, "we haven’t niched ourselves.” Now that “opulence is out and need is in,” Ara finds the firm doing fewer new offices and more new tech facilities, like a data center for EMC in Durham, NC, and a lab for Wyeth in Andover.

architect Alex Pitkin, here with interior designer Marie Fitzgerald and landscape architect Stella Lensing

Wellesley’s new public high school will open in 2013 and has a cafeteria that’s “the physical manifestation of Facebook,” says architect Alex Pitkin, here with interior designer Marie Fitzgerald and landscape architect Stella Lensing. With lots of glazing, it has views front and back to see who’s talking/walking with whom. You know, essential high school stuff.

DGT Survey Group's John Silveri, Moses Mohammad, Al Najimy, and Mike Clifford

Ever wonder how buildings go up on crowded city sites without hacking up the neighbors’ walls or puncturing a water pipe? Ask these guys from DGT Survey Group, John Silveri, Moses Mohammad, Al Najimy, and Mike Clifford. (Best wait until they finish that take-out from Southie, which we caught them snacking on last Wednesday.) They’re working on the new office tower being built around the old Russia Wharf and concession areas at Fenway. As surveyors, they locate surrounding structures, align old and new buildings, and assure accurate elevations and column lines.

Bob Staples, Ana Lally, Sam Taleb

Wasn't long before the toys came out. Bob Staples, Ana Lally, Sam Taleb, and Mike show off their 3D laser scanner that measures 900,000 points per second compared to 500 points per day with the older electronic instruments. Mike says it can do some tricky maneuvers. Every off season they work at Fenway, and some years, he says, they align the Pesky Pole so “it leans out when the Sox are up and in when Yankees come to bat.” We know the fury of doing things without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, so we'll add he was joking. We think.

Druker, the Recession Barometer

Ron Druker

To know when the recession is over, keep an eye on the corner of Arlington and Boylston. Ron Druker, third generation developer with The Druker Company, has marked turn-arounds before. In the ’80’s, his Heritage on the Garden helped return the Back Bay to its former glory, and in the Naughts, his Atelier | 505 said the South End was again the place to live. He’s now finishing plans with architect Robert A.M. Stern for 230k SF of offices including 15k SF of international retail on the A & B corner. Permits in hand, he’s ready for high end tenants to return. His guess: another three years. BTW, the copper griffin on the table replicates those at the Boston Public Library, where Ron endowed a design and architecture lecture series to mark his family’s 100 years in Boston real estate.

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