Deborah Pierce, J71

HOME: Belmont, Massachusetts

PROFESSION: Architect (partner in Pierce Lamb Architects)

LATEST FEATHER IN HER CAP: 2009 Honor Award for Accessible Design in the residential category, granted by the Boston Society of Architects and the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board

LOVES ABOUT HER WORK: “The kick of giving life to what I’ve envisioned and the sense of teamwork with a resourceful builder and a cooperative client. And the smells of fresh concrete, sealants, lumber, and paint, and the feel of smoothly finished millwork and new tile.”

WHY ACCESSIBLE DESIGN: “Knowing people with disabilities has shown me how unfair the built environment can be. Also, anyone can find themselves disabled. We added a lift to the moderator’s platform at Medford City Hall, and just as the project started, the City Council president, who had been skeptical about accessible design, had a skiing accident that consigned him to a wheelchair. He quickly became a believer.”

FAVORITE BUILDING MATERIAL: Stone. “It’s grounding, and it links us with the past, with other cultures and places. Think Machu Picchu in Peru and Salisbury Cathedral in Britain. Think Italy and Ireland, castles and lowly farmyards. When we bring stone into a building, we bring that energy.”

WHAT WOULD BE IN HER DREAM HOUSE: “A kitchen for cooking with friends, a room with east-facing windows for early-morning writing and yoga, a gathering area with a fireplace and high ceilings, and a variety of spaces mediating between indoors and out—maybe a deck for sleeping up in the treetops.”

ATHLETIC PURSUITS: “I kayaked the whole Charles River. And I’m on a dragon-boat rowing team called Wellness Warriors, where every member is a cancer survivor or caregiver.”

FAVORITE ARCHITECT: Renzo Piano. “His technologically groundbreaking, impeccably detailed buildings are artistry in form and light. The California Academy of Sciences houses—and is—a living museum. The Menil Collection in Houston and the High Museum expansion in Atlanta are beautiful sculptures that enhance the artwork displayed in them.”

HER EDUCATION: B.A., Tufts (sociology); B.Arch., Boston Architectural College


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