Celebrating 20 Years at Studio G: Sylvia Mihich

In May we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Sylvia Mihich, Principal and Director of Practice, at Studio G with a virtual lunch. Once we have gotten to the other side of the pandemic we plan on having a much bigger celebration!

We asked Sylvia to mark this milestone by recounting how she and Gail met, her early days with Studio G, and what she sees for the future of architecture at Studio G and in our world.

Gail and I first met about 35 years ago in a studio at the Boston Architectural College (BAC). I was working as a carpenter and wanted to learn how to transcribe my design ideas from imagination to paper – I signed up for a drafting class and took a design studio on the side for the fun of it.  There was Gail, also taking her first step into architecture. At a time when there were only a handful of women at the BAC, we made an early connection.

Fast forward 16 years, children, and a couple of transcontinental moves later, as I was finishing up work on the Landmark Center in the Fenway with Bruner/Cott, Gail asked me if I would join her in her ‘infant’ 3-person firm. It was an enticing offer:

  1. To work with a friend with whom I shared many social and political views, and shared motivations for getting into architecture to start with;
  2. To have the opportunity to help form and grow the firm, bringing my solar energy experience, my technical strengths, and large project experience to bear.

So, I leapt and landed at Gail Sullivan Associates, now Studio G Architects.

Over the last 20 years, projects have grown from small renovations to $80M in new construction projects. In the beginning, the projects focused on childcare, community facilities, and housing; they have now grown to include public schools and therapeutic healing environments. The common thread through all has been service for the underserved, and for the public good.

Sylvia 2020 Anniversary Blog

A selection of projects from Sylvia’s 20 years: Top: Haverhill District Courthouse; Boston Prep; 270 Centre Street; Boston Prep; Middle: Greater Egleston Community High School; E+ Highland; Rockland Senior Center; Atlantis Charter School; Bottom: 270 Centre apartment; Haverhill District Court main courtroom; Moody Street Center; Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance new offices

From the start, and before “sustainability” and “green” were part of everyday nomenclature, our projects were characterized by innovative use of materials and energy conscious and healthy design principles.

The creative and out-of-the-box thinking which yielded cost savings, and increased comfort and health to our clients back then, continues to drive us to design the best buildings possible for our clients and the planet today.

From reducing the negative impact on the built environment, our buildings are now moving towards helping foster the health of the planet and using fewer of its limited resources.Through it all, the most rewarding aspect of my work over the years has been to have happy, grateful, and appreciative clients and users of the spaces we’ve designed.

Knowing that we’ve improved people’s day-to-day—- that residents are breathing easier because their new apartments have high indoor air quality; that organizations are better able to carry out their mission because they now have appropriate and healthy offices; that even the less fortunate in our society have decent and uplifting spaces in which to heal—- continues to energize my daily work.

A few highlights from 20 years: Top: 2008 MAHA site visit (left); 2019 staff photos (right); Bottom: 2012 Hub on Wheels with Gaby and husband, Tom; 2010 270 Centre Street site visit; 2016 Distinguished Alumni in Practice Award from Boston Architectural College; 2020 virtual surprise anniversary lunch

In turn, I feel lucky and immensely appreciative for having had such a great, inspiring group of creative and like-minded Studio G’ers to collaborate with over the years, and who have put their all into supporting the work we set out to do.

Looking forward, we are at a critical juncture for the future of our planet and societies. As architects, we have great impact on the built environment and people, and we hold the reins to influence whether that impact is positive or negative. For the survivability of the planet, it’s imperative that globally, building design responds ever more to the environment, with ever-decreasing negative impacts on dwindling resources, and have a positive impact for society. To that end, as we continue working towards our mission of building sustainable communities, I hope that Studio G will be recognized for its part in designing what the planet needs and society deserves—- beautiful, resilient, restorative, and equitable buildings for all.

 

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