Share your thoughts!

One of the reasons I’m so excited about the UUA’s move to our new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street is the potential for enhanced collaboration that our new space will afford us. In that spirit, I am delighted to invite you to share your vision for how our new UUA headquarters will look and feel.

Goody Clancy, our architecture firm, designed this “blink” exercise to help gather your ideas about new design possibilities. Would you like our new headquarters to feel more modern or traditional? Would you like to see rougher, more natural materials or should they be more refined? Do you favor neutral colors, bold swaths of color, or a more neutral palette with pops of color here and there? Note that none of the images are actual choices. They’re meant to represent and suggest ideas, concepts, colors, shapes, and moods.

The “blink” exercise is designed to be quick. What is your immediate, gut reaction? What is your instinctual response to each of the photographs presented? Do you love it or do you hate it? Or do you fall somewhere in between? There are even spaces in the survey for comments should you feel inclined. This is an opportunity for all of us to go with our instincts and have fun in imagining our new religious home.

You’ll find the “blink” exercise here!

Your input will be incredibly valuable as we move forward in designing our new space. If possible, please respond by Monday, July 15. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

In faith,

Morales Peter 24 Farnsworth

Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

How Should Our New Headquarters Look?

On behalf of Goody Clancy, the UUA architects for our new headquarters offices at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston, I’m thrilled to share with you a “blink” exercise in the form of a Survey Monkey questionnaire.

Goody Clancy designed the “blink” exercise to help gather information on how we want our new headquarters space to feel. As constituents of the UUA, we welcome your input. Note that none of the images are actual choices. They’re meant to represent and suggest ideas, concepts, colors, shapes, and moods.

The “blink” exercise will take you about 20 minutes to complete. Offer your immediate, gut reaction to each image. Do you love it or do you hate it? Or do you fall somewhere in between? There are even spaces in the survey for comments should you feel inclined. The link is live through the end of July.

Have fun! Don’t overanalyze. Imagine.

Complete the Blink Exercise Here

Concept Sketches Released for 24 Farnsworth

At General Assembly, UUA President Peter Morales unveiled some architectural concept sketches created by Goody Clancy for the new headquarters. Take a look at the images below!

Watch Move Highlights from President’s Report

Dear friend,

I just got back from another successful General Assembly in Louisville, KY. I am excited and energized by all the amazing work taking place in our congregations and our movement. As I shared in my report to General Assembly, we have accomplished so much together, but we all know that there is still so much work to be done.

As I begin my second-term as your Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, I want to share with you regular updates on the UUA’s journey to a new home at 24 Farnsworth Street in Boston, MA. This move is an opportunity for us to embrace the dawning future of our faith in a space that will allow the UUA to serve you and your congregations even more effectively.

For my first message to you, please watch this short video from my report to General Assembly attendees containing new information about the UUA’s historic move.

Move video image

I look forward to sharing more updates and information with you in the coming weeks. I encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and fellow congregants. Thank you for joining the move and coming along on this journey with us.

In faith,

Morales Peter 24 Farnsworth

Rev. Peter Morales
UUA President

Welcoming. Sustainable. Future-focused.

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

Taking our memories with us

A post from UUA Executive Vice President Kathleen Montgomery.

I used to live in a lovely house in Atlanta.  Not very big, but incredibly charming.  Slate roof.  Old brick.  Acre lot.  Lots of trees and flowers.  We brought our sons home to it as newborns and they became teenagers there.  We all loved it.  Now, whenever any of us are near, we drive by and get sentimental.

The day came when it was time to move on.  That decision was hard and exciting and scary.  I never wish I still lived in that house in Atlanta but oh, the precious memories!

That’s how I feel about the UUA’s decision to sell our Beacon Hill buildings.  I dearly love 25 Beacon Street and rarely come into the building (as I have almost every day for thirty years) without reveling in the memories it contains and its stately elegance.  Almost every room in it is embedded with stories that remind me of the people who have been in them, ones I know and care about and others who were gone long before my time.  Lots of laughter, some tears, marriages in the chapel, endless meetings, important decisions, scheming and planning and watching change happen, watching the Association grow, build on the past, and become more clear about its mission.

Best memory: the era when the Massachusetts State House struggled with the issue of marriage equality and we hung huge signs facing the State House that said things like, “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right.”  The demonstrators and the politicians couldn’t miss them.

I love all the memories and get sentimental thinking about them (well, okay, I get sentimental pretty easily).  But you know what?  It’s time to move on.  That belief didn’t come easily or quickly to me but I grew into it with certainty.

We need a different kind of space that fits the time we find ourselves in.  We need to unburden ourselves of buildings that are about the past and not about the present and the future.  We need to acknowledge that bearing the enormous cost of bringing Beacon Hill buildings into the 20th century, forget the 21st , would be foolish.

So we’ll take our memories with us as we move on—no one and no building can take them away.  They’re ours.  They’ll always be ours.  Now it’s time to move to a new, fresh, innovative space and create new memories.

-Kay Montgomery
Executive Vice President
Unitarian Universalist Association

2901 Kay Montgomery

Breaking News! Architect Selected for the New Headquarters

After a thorough evaluation process, we have selected an architecture firm to lead us through creating and implementing a design vision for our new UUA headquarters. Goody Clancy, an award winning firm with over 50 years of experience designing some of Boston’s most distinctive spaces, is our chosen architect.

This Boston-based architecture firm was chosen by a committee of UUA staff members out of a pool of architecture firms selected for their specific strengths and experience in areas with spiritual spaces, historic preservation, sustainable design, and the ability to add diversity to the UUA project team.

The finalists were chosen based on their fit with these criteria:

  • Visionary team leadership
  • Energy
  • Understanding of the project scope
  • Ability to work within the given time frame and budget
  • Understanding the nature of this as a transformational project and the importance of change management
  • Sustainability and accessibilities knowledge and interest
  • Diversity of the project team
  • Interpersonal connections
  • Quality of design work

A team led by Goody Clancy project lead Jean Carroon, who has received national recognition for her special expertise in applying sustainable design technology to historic buildings, will soon begin a process of discernment about how we might envision welcoming people in to and working in this new space. Jean and her team are eager to get started so that we can call 24 Farnsworth Street our new UUA home in January 2014.

New photos added to the Join the Move homepage

On April 11, UUA staff got their first look inside the new building at 24 Farnsworth Street. Everyone was very excited to see the new space and enjoy some treats from our future neighbor, Flour Bakery. Chris Walton from UU World took some great photographs, which have been added to the About the Move section on the blog homepage. Check out the new interior shots for a look at the “blank canvas” that will become the new UUA offices.

A Move for the Millennial Generation

As you have probably heard, the Unitarian Universalist Association is planning a big move of its HQ offices from historic Beacon Hill to the up-and-coming Fort Point neighborhood in Boston. If you ask me, I’m super excited about this move. It feels like a true recognition from the highest levels of leadership in our faith that we are embracing the future that is a reflection of the way our generation, the Millennial Generation, will be interacting with religion for years to come.

First, with this move we’ll get considerable upgrades in technological capability at the UUA. Right now, all the internet access in my office has to be beamed across two city blocks to the servers located in a different building. How can we expect to keep up with changes in video conferencing, webinars, online education and resources, even graphic design and mobile applications, without the technology infrastructure to make it possible?

In addition to the technology improvements, we’re getting the chance to design the new Fort Point space from scratch. Conversations among the staff and with our architecture consultants have so far emphasized a flexible, open work environment. It would help us get beyond the traditional program silos that the UUA has been trying to overcome in the last few years through cross-staff collaboration. The importance of partnership and team building will only increase as the UUA becomes a nimble organization for the 21st Century, focused on seeding and feeding the good work going in our religious communities rather than policing the bylaws and boundaries of our administrative structure.

A new space has the chance to be the embodiment of our values and aspirations. It can be a place that we are proud to call home for years to come, not just for years past. We see 50-60 youth groups and Coming of Age classes visiting the UUA’s current offices every year, and sadly all we have to show them is a conference room and a few pictures on the walls. Imagine having a museum space that displays our history in an accessible, creative way that our visitors can experience. I’ll leave the debate over the historical value of our Beacon Hill location to my capable colleagues, but I will note that, when I visited the UUA as a high school student, the exciting thing to me was making a pilgrimage to where the my faith’s leadership was housed, wherever that was, rather than visiting a specific place on a map.

Ultimately, I see this move as us as UUs trying to put our money where our mouth is and set ourselves up for success in the changing religious landscape in America. I invite you to look forward with me to what our future holds!


-Carey McDonald, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the UUA

Read the original post from the Blue Boat Blog!

What is Your Beacon Hill?

AUA cornerstone

The picture shows American Unitarian Association President Samuel A. Eliot II holding the cornerstone of the AUA headquarters. He  modernized Unitarianism as a denomination and laid the pathway for its organizational structure.  All this was revolutionary at the time.  He knew that the organization wasn’t the end-all-and-be-all, but that a healthy, efficient denomination was essential to a healthy faith.

Flash forward 88 years.  Our UUA is on the cusp of moving from 25 to 24.

The new building consists of open, light-filled space that will be customized to support the work of a contemporary, mission-driven, collaborative Association.  No matter how much potential the new site affords for improved technology and access, though, many are grieving.  Others say the move “from Boston to Boston” is irrelevant.

But my hope is that this move might provide essential role modeling for our congregations.

I’m keenly aware that many of our congregations – especially in New England — are housed in buildings from a very different era. And that these building suck up magnificent resources that could be spent in other ways that inspire people to lead lives of humility and purpose, connection and service, thereby transforming themselves and the world.  Many of our congregations have taken up their building as their mission, rather than the building sustaining and supporting the mission.  If you recognize this in your own story, may you have the courage to take control of your story and mission and move with us into a new era.

I love our history.  But sometimes we treat the 25 Beacon Street address as if it were built in 1825. In fact it was built in 1927 and served merely as an office building to the Louis Cornish and Frederick May Eliot administrations of the American Unitarian Association.  At that time the AUA served around 300 congregations.  We now serve over 1000 congregations through a network of staff and key volunteers stationed not just in Boston but all over the continent.

I confess that I’m terribly sentimental about 25 Beacon Street. I have stories for almost every room, as do many of you.  And I will take those memories with me and commit to making new ones.   But the only spaces currently used for their original purposes are the President’s office, the bookstore, and the second floor chapel, landing, and library. And just think about how what goes on in those rooms has changed over the years!

The significant features came from somewhere else and can move with us again.  Channing’s pulpit is moveable. The chandelier, which was a gift from a church in the 1600s, can move again.  All the library books came from somewhere else.  The President’s desk is moveable. And that cornerstone in the picture?  It can move again.

As the excitement of the news of the pending headquarters move starts to die down, I hope you will look for your own congregation’s story within this new story.

What is your Beacon Hill?  Are you ready to move into a new era?  What will you bring with you?


-Tandi Rogers, UUA Growth Strategist

Read the original post from the Growing Unitarian Universalism blog.