SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

May 22, 2013

A winning design

(Continued)

The founders have also given their time to the city. Durand is chairman of the Salem Redevelopment Authority’s Design Review Board, a former Chamber of Commerce president and a former Planning Board member before he moved to Wenham. Meche previously served on the executive board of the Salem Partnership and as president of Salem Main Streets. He was also one of the founders of the Salem Academy Charter School.

Durand said he and Meche love the city, and they have been able to establish a Boston architectural firm without a Boston address.

So how did a Salem firm wind up designing a data center for eBay in Utah? The principals say it’s because they are a nimble firm.

“We have always been good in getting into new avenues of work,” said Durand. They are always watching the economy to see where the trends in buildings are headed, he noted.

The firm has a done a range of work for Harvard Medical School, which Meche and Durand said dovetails with the firm’s latest push into life sciences and data centers. The firm’s core work has been in commercial office space and interior design in Boston.

The firm did not set out to be designers of data centers, Meche said. Years ago, they became frustrated when the requirements of engineering teams would interfere with architectural plans.

“We set out to understand their work better and integrate it better,” Meche said. They wound up being hired for increasingly technical projects, which are driven by engineers and their requirements. Meche said architects are important to give a planning perspective to a building project like a data center.

“Without an architect to do planning, it just doesn’t work as well if you make the architect the sort of the draftsman for the engineers,” Meche said.

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