AIASF Equity by Design Symposium, 2016

Group Photo, EQxD 2016 | Photo Credit: EQxD

Aminah McNulty is the marketing manager at Brown, Richardson & Rowe, a woman – owned landscape architecture and planning firm in Boston, MA.  She attended the fourth annual Equity by Design Symposium in the fall of 2016 with the following synopsis.

This gathering was a testament to the power of the collective voice. 250 designers and allied professionals gathered at the San Francisco Art Institute to discuss equity in architecture. Facilitators and participants shared their stories, struggles and strategies for innovative practices within their firms.

“Equity has a strong potential as a new paradigm and social construct to succeed on multiple levels—equity in education, equitable practice in the workplace and social equity in access to basic life resources, healthy and safe communities and public space in our urban centers. The equity-focused value proposition at all these levels is rooted in transparency, education, collaboration and trust.”—Rosa Sheng, AIA, Equity by Design Co-Founder

The mission of Equity by Design (EQxD) is three–fold: to collect and publish data, understand and articulate patterns, and engage in creative solutions to advance the profession.

  • Metrics:   Research, data and accountability
  • Meaning: Connection, passion and value
  • Matrices: Creation, network and solution

Figure I | Probability of Aspiring to Principal | EQxD 2016 Survey

The 2016 survey results show that from the start of a career, women are less likely than men to aspire to become principal (see Figure 1). There are five pinch points in design careers: hiring and retention, paying your dues, licensure, care giving and the glass ceiling. Today, women make up 21% – 29% of firm leadership in top architectural firms in the country, a substantial increase from 17% in 2013[1]. Factors behind this leadership gap include lack of available mentorship, unclear methods of advancement, pay inequity, work life balance and conflicting values.

Figure 2 | Workplace Culture | EQxD 2016 Survey

The EQxD 2016 Survey showed shared values as the top indicator of job satisfaction (see Figure 2). In the breakout session Becoming a Change Agent, the group discussed the need to first identify and articulate personal values, then seek an employer with transparent values that align with your own. How a firm tracks and measures job performance is a key indicator in deciphering company values. Contrary to popular belief, time spent at a desk does not always reflect an employee’s productivity or worth. Employees who network and get to know their clients and colleagues bring in more work than those that sit at their desks late into the night. Many women also note that becoming working moms with conflicting responsibilities and priorities significantly increased their efficiency at work.

The principals of Brown, Richardson + Rowe spent their careers articulating and promoting values of equity and inclusion to their employees. Their strategies include hourly pay structure, flexible work schedules and a communal work culture. This commitment to fostering an equitable workplace builds trust and competence throughout the staff, allowing efficient use of time and energy to produce first rate designs.

Aminah McNulty presents breakout session brainstorm | Photo Credit: BRR

The overwhelming acceptance and candor showcased at this event reinforced Co-Founder Rosa Sheng’s remark: “Be vulnerable as the start of healing and making yourself whole. Fail fast, fail often. We can fail in a moment without being failures.”

For more information about Equity by Design and how to get involved, please visit their website and follow them on Twitter.

[1] “EQiA2016_EarlyFindingsInfographics.”Equity by Design [EQxD]. N. p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Smith College President’s Garden, Northampton, Massachusetts

Smith College is rehabilitating the historic walled garden adjacent to the President’s House. The garden sits on a hill overlooking Paradise Pond and the Mill River. Boston architect John W. Ames designed the House in 1920 in the Neo-Georgian style for his Cambridge friend and incoming Smith College President William Allen Neilson and his wife Elizabeth Muser Neilson. Ames broke with tradition and faced the home in light colored stucco instead of the traditional Georgian style brick. Both the house and garden were featured in Better Homes and Garden magazine in 1921.

View of historic President’s House at Smith College

The President’s Garden is about eight feet below and to the side of the house façade, accessible from the house through the lower level of the garage and the rear terrace. Students enter through a side gate down a steep narrow walkway from the path above the garden. The rectangular formal garden with cutting and herb gardens was originally envisioned as a private space for the President and his family. An opaque six foot tall fence mounted on a stone retaining wall surrounded the garden.

Existing conditions of College President’s house and garden

New accessible entry and view of President’s Garden, Renderings by John Latham

Every May, matriculating Smith graduates parade down the path above the north wall of the garden adjacent to this tall fence. They can see a lovely grassy hill with ornamental trees and a swing overlooking the pond next to the garden, but not the garden.  The steep garden paths were not universally accessible. The college administration decided that they wanted to open the garden up to everyone.

Proposed plantings and garden restoration

Brown, Richardson + Rowe opened the view to the garden and created an accessible path by adding new stone retaining walls on three garden sides, replacing the tall fence with a lower ornamental wood railing, regrading the garden perimeter and interior and adding steps and handrails. A colonial style open air wood pavilion was added, located on axis with the main garden path and topped with a pyramidal cedar shingle roof and with interior seating. Other improvements include lighting, the replanted herb garden, new cutting garden layout, new brick pathways, three curved stone seat walls and wood benches. The formal garden plantings have been redesigned with all new herbaceous and vine plantings punctuated with ornamental flower pots in species mix and layout coordinated with the Botanical Garden staff. The garden is under construction and is scheduled to reopen September, 2016.

View of President’s Garden and Paradise Pond



Salem Station, the third busiest station in the commuter rail system, needed additional parking spaces for commuters.  BRR teamed with Fennick/McCredie Architecture (FMA) to design a circulation system with two new accessible pedestrian gathering places as part of a new 714 space parking garage project.

MBTA Salem Station, July 2016

One of these two gathering places is next to the main entry and the other is above the North River.  The new circular seating is made out of the historic granite blocks that were salvaged from an 1888 Boston and Maine Railroad roundhouse found beneath the site slated for the new garage.  Archaeologists mapped the roundhouse before the MBTA removed the granite to allow for the new garage pilings.  The T’s decision to reuse the blocks led to the creation of a marvelous and sustainable urban space.

Pedestrian Plaza Rendering, Courtesy: FMA


The project also included a fully accessible high-level platform, platform canopy, waiting room, bicycle storage and a new accessible ramp from the Bridge Street/Washington Street intersection to the station platform.  Native shade trees, evergreen windbreaks, perennials and hardy salt tolerant shrubs will provide a comfortable pedestrian environment for station users.

2014 ABX and Massachusetts Trails Conference – Sessions with Clarissa Rowe

Join Clarissa Rowe, one of the founding principals at Brown, Richardson & Rowe, for two speaking engagements this fall.

Clarissa is a featured speaker for Reimagining Boston’s Historic Landscape at this year’s ABX conference on October 28th.  She will discuss ways to approach a 19th century landscape in the 21st century and will present her work in the adaptive reuse of the historic Olmsted designed Chestnut Hill Waterworks.

Chestnut Hill Waterworks - Photo Courtesy Chris Barnes

Chestnut Hill Waterworks – Photo Courtesy Chris Barnes











The designers respected the long history and landmark status of the former Boston Waterworks site. The views to the complex are virtually un­changed. The rolling lawn and specimen trees enhance the building setting. By maintaining the landscape setback with its allée of mature oak trees, she preserved the landscape tradition of this place, while providing accessibility into the building, preserving Olmsted ideals, and meeting contemporary needs.

Chestnut Hill Waterworks - Photo courtesy Alex MacLean

Chestnut Hill Waterworks – Photo courtesy Alex MacLean

For more information, go to:

Clarissa is also presenting at the November 8th session “Meeting the Challenges of Urban Trails” at the 2014 Massachusetts Trails Conference entitled “Trails for All”.

Clarissa will discuss the issues involved with transforming abandoned urban rail right-of-ways into safe, accessible, aesthetic corridors and connectors such as site constraints, structural issues, invasive species control and community perception.

Quequechan River Rail Trail Overlook - Perspective by Jing Yang

Quequechan River Rail Trail Overlook – Perspective by Jing Yang

She will present BRR’s work at the Quequechan River Rail Trail in Fall River, MA; the Monoosnoc Brook Trail in Leominster, MA; the Northern Strand Trail in Everett MA; the Chelsea Greenway in Chelsea, MA and the East Boston Greenway.

East Boston Greenway - Photo courtesy Chris Barnes

East Boston Greenway – Photo courtesy Chris Barnes

For more information go to:
















Summer Fun in Haverhill!

Phase One of BRR’s master plan for 104 year old Swasey Park in Haverhill was completed just in time for summer fun!  The Gateway Cities Park Program of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs funded a spray pad that opened at the end of May.

Photo courtesy Alison Colby-Campbell

Photo courtesy Alison Colby-Campbell

Haverhill’s newest water play area is located in the heart of the park.  Bordered by stone walls appropriate to a park that has been around for over a century, multiple spray jets from above and below were an immediate hit with the neighborhood kids.

Photo courtesy Alison Colby-Campbell

Photo courtesy Alison Colby-Campbell

Local resident/blogger Alison Colby-Campbell captured the zest of the delighted children with these great photos. Even though the temperature was hovering around 70 degrees over Memorial Day when the water was turned on for the summer season, whole families were ready to use the spray park in many creative ways.

photo courtesy Alison Colby-Campbell

Photo courtesy Alison Colby-Campbell







Logan Airport Consolidated Rental Car Facility

BRR is no stranger to working on large scale construction projects. 

According to a recent issue of the Boston Business Journal, which lists the Largest Construction Projects in Massachusetts ranked by dollar value completed in 2012 or under way in 2013, BRR has been involved in two of the top 25 (Logan International Airport’s Consolidated Rental Car Facility and UMass Boston’s Integrated Science Center).   

Ranked at number six, with a price tag of $310 million, is Logan International Airport’s Consolidated Rental Car Facility (ConRAC) with Suffolk Construction, PGAL/Parsons Brinckerhoff, VHB and Fennick McCredie Architects.

Birds Eye View of SWSA

Birds Eye View of SWSA

The ConRAC project consolidates on-airport rental car operations into a new parking garage, customer service center and associated support facilities in the Southwest Service Area (SWSA) of the airport.  BRR has been involved in all phases of the project, beginning in 2005 when initial feasibility studies were first conducted, to the present project construction phase.

View to Customer Service Center by Jing Yang

View to Customer Service Center by Jing Yang

The landscape we have designed will transform this vehicle-oriented site into a safe and welcoming place for pedestrians and bicyclists.  The multi use path will link to the Harborwalk, Airport Station and the East Boston Greenway. Once completed, the increased vegetated landscape on this 49-acre site will provide environmental benefits and beautify airport property.  The project will meet the requirements of the Massachusetts “LEED Plus” program and is designed to achieve a LEED Silver certification or better.

The new customer service center and parking garage opened on September 25, 2013.   Project final completion is anticipated by September 2014.

Construction News – Holyoke’s Veteran’s Park Reopened

After nine months of renovation, Holyoke’s 150 year old Veteran’s Park was reopened with much fanfare on June 14, 2013.

BRR was present for the reopening ceremony on a beautiful, sunny June afternoon.

Opening Day June 14, 2103

Opening Day June 14, 2013

Speakers included Jennifer Gilburg, chairwoman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, City Council President Kevin A. Jourdain, state Rep. Aaron M. Vega, D-Holyoke, and Kurt Gaertner, director of the state’s Gateway Cities Parks Program.

Mayor Alex Morse with Friend

Mayor Alex Morse and Friend

In 2007, the Patrick Administration established the Gateway City Parks Program to advance park equity in designated Gateway Cities.  Holyoke selected Veteran’s Park as the City’s preferred project. The Gateway Program has funded Brown, Richardson & Rowe’s design and the park’s construction for the one acre park.  New LED park lighting, accessible interior walkways, planting, benches & trash receptacles and accessible pedestrian ramps to the park at the intersections of Chestnut Street with Hampden Street and Chestnut Street with Dwight Street have transformed the park.

The centerpiece of the park is the 42-foot-tall granite Civil War monument and statue of Miss Liberty.

Brown, Richardson & Rowe, Inc. is assisting the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA) with the assessment and realization of park opportunities in support of this important state-wide parks initiative.

See more at

Boston College Gasson Hall

At Boston College in Chestnut Hill, the view down Linden Avenue toward Gasson Hall and the eagle perched on a stone column is magical.  The Maginnis and Walsh English Collegiate Gothic structure speaks to the first time visitor about the school’s character.  Mature trees frame the axial entry to the symmetrical cast stone façade, windows and tower.  With the assistance of McGinley Kalsow & Associates, Boston College has restored the building.  To preserve its historic character, Brown, Richardson & Rowe designed two unobtrusive accessible ways to the ground floor that preserve the marvelous stairs, the eagle and the symmetrical facade and planting around the building. The new masonry walls, railings, paving, trees, shrubs and ground cover are appropriate to the style of this important building.

View to new accessible ramps, courtesy Gary Wayne Gilbert

View to new accessible ramps, courtesy Gary Wayne Gilbert

“Stunning” and “spectacular” are the words that most people use to describe the newly completed renovation of the University’s most iconic building, Gasson Hall, says Executive Vice President Patrick Keating. “The building is approaching 100 years old and looks new,” Keating said of the multi-year renovation project that was completed in August of 2011. “The whole team did a fabulous job restoring this building to its original character and they accomplished the task literally to the day called for in the schedule.”

“I think that ‘stunning’ captures it quite nicely,” adds Associate Vice President for Capital Projects Mary Nardone, who helped to oversee the complex project that has restored the signature Collegiate Gothic-style building and bell tower to pristine form for Boston College’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2012-13 and provides modern and spacious classroom, study and administrative facilities for the current academic year and well beyond.

Gasson Hall front entry, courtesy Gary Wayne Gilbert

Gasson Hall front entry, courtesy Gary Wayne Gilbert

In addition to a complete replacement of all of Gasson’s exterior pre-cast stone, the building got new weather-tight windows, stairways and entrance porticos and accessible ramps.





Worcester State University Residence and Dining Hall

Brown Richardson + Rowe is working with Goody Clancy on the new Massachusetts LEED Plus student housing and dining facility at Worcester State University in Worcester, MA.  BRR’s scope of work includes conceptual site design and the final design of landscape elements including: pedestrian and plaza pavements, landscape curbs, low walls, site stairs, metal railings, fences and gates, site furniture such as benches, trash receptacles, bike racks, and bollards.  BRR will also be involved in Construction Administration activities associated with these elements.

View of Residence Hall Courtesy Goody Clancy

View of Plaza Space – Courtesy Goody Clancy

The addition of this new building on the hillside above Coughlin Athletic Field provides spectacular views and creates a new flexible plaza space within the residential area of campus.   An outdoor area, accessible from the dining facility on the first floor of the building, provides students with an outdoor dining option during the warmer months.

Plan of Proposed Plaza

Plan of Proposed Plaza

New retaining walls currently under construction on the hillside will be visually screened by plantings at the base of the terraced walls.  BRR selected low maintenance plant species that are adaptable to the challenging environmental conditions on the hillside: tolerating drying winds, temperature extremes, varying dry and wet soil moisture while also being attractive year-round with dense growth habit that will initially screen the walls and will not grow too tall over time and block views from the first floor of the building.

View towards entrance - Courtesy Goody Clancy

View of Main Entrance – Courtesy Goody Clancy

Groundbreaking for the building occurred on March 21, 2013 and the new 400 bed residence hall and 575 seat dining facility will be ready for occupancy at the beginning of the fall 2014 semester.

Spring is coming!

Brown, Richardson + Rowe has 30 years+ of experience working with residential clients to transform their outdoor spaces into beautiful, low maintenance, sustainable environments while providing innovative design solutions.

Stone walkway

Our objective is to effectively guide clients through the design process from concept to completed construction.

The first step is to develop a program based on the client’s needs and desires.  The design concept may include areas for outdoor entertaining, solitude and play.  We have experience detailing everything from trellises, courtyards, decks, terraces, paths, pools, fountains, walls and fences.  Our clients ask for gardens of different types including kitchen, flower, perennial or native gardens or gardens to attract wildlife.

Cool summer retreat

As stewards of the land, we do encourage the use of native and drought tolerant plants, reduction of irrigated lawn, and permeable paving within the design.  We strive to provide solutions that maximize natural systems to minimize energy use (i.e. planting deciduous trees on the south side of a residence which provides shade in the summer and sun in the winter, helps to reduce energy costs and creates a healthy residential environment).

Welcoming entrance gate

We create comfortable spaces with beautiful and enduring garden elements and planting that bring color and interesting textures to the gardens throughout the year.

Seaside Grasses and Perennials

For more information, check out our website: