These are the three priorities we’ve set for the design of our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston’s Innovation District. We are working closely with Goody Clancy, our recently-selected architectural firm, to ensure the building’s design fulfills these requirements so that our headquarters can reflect the principles of Unitarian Universalism. Last week, the staff of the UUA were invited to participate in a design workshop to explore three themes: sustainability and green design; universal access and inclusive design; and, trends in 21st century workplace design and health. This was a chance for the architects to get to know us through conversations and brainstorming sessions as we work together to create a religious home for Unitarian Universalism.

We learned more about these three priorities from a selection of expert speakers. To answer the question “What is a workplace welcoming to all?,” we heard from Valerie Fletcher, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, a Boston-based international non-profit committed to expanding opportunities and enhancing experiences for people of all ages and abilities. Valerie spoke about the importance of accessibility and inclusion for both our staff and our visitors, and described some ways our design can play a role in creating a welcoming workplace. This concept of welcoming goes beyond legally required accessibility and includes everything from flexible workstations to acoustic and visual sensitivity.

To explain “What is a sustainable work place?,” we heard from Barbra Batshalom, Executive Director of the Sustainable Performance Institute, an organization that focuses on sustainability and green practices for workplaces. For the new headquarters, the architects are working to ensure that the building materials are as healthy as possible for our staff, volunteers, and visitors, for the environment, and for the workers who produce those materials. We also want to ensure that the building is as green as possible, which includes being flexible to deploy future green technologies.

Finally, Nancy Wellott, an innovation strategy consultant and founder of Habits and Habitats, answered “What is a workplace of the 21st century?” This is a difficult question to answer! The new headquarters will honor our past while looking to the future, ensuring that we have the best tools and most collaborative space possible to serve you and your congregations.

At the end of the session, we broke up into small groups to consider what we learned from the speakers and to think about the feelings produced by our current buildings on Beacon Hill and what we hope for from our new home. This was a fantastic opportunity for all of us to connect, to share our ideas for 24 Farnsworth, and to begin to focus on our three priorities. As principal architect Jean Carroon says, “I’ve never had a client give so much time, so much energy, so many ideas.… It’s really going to be great.”

Welcoming. Sustainable. Future-focused. What do these ideas mean to you? To share your thoughts and ideas, please add a comment to our blog!

In faith,

rob molla

Rob Molla
Director of Human Resources, UUA
New Headquarters Design Team Lead

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