Lesley University Combines Old with New in Recent Renovation

An Image of the outside of Lesley University

An Image of the outside of Lesley University

How does a 170 Year Old Church become a “Nexxus for the Arts” in Cambridge? With a lot of dedication and patience.  It took 10 years for Lesley College’s School of Art and Design to build a state of the art facility for their students.  On March 31st, IFMA’s Programs Committee set up a tour called, “Lesley College, Something Old, Something New,” which showed exactly why it took so long and why it was worth the effort.  The 70,000 square foot facility, much of it underground, is surprisingly compact yet filled with everything including a photo lab, a historic printing press, green screens, gas and electric kilns, a fully equipped wood shop and internet access throughout.  The students were in class and working on projects while we toured the facility and it was clear they were loving their space.

Members of Lesley University giving a tour of the renovated facility

Members of Lesley University giving a tour of the renovated facility

The panel discussion following the tour detailed the painstaking efforts the team went through to get as much space as possible for the students, preserve (and move!) the historic church (now the school library), and engage the community in their ongoing projects. The stained glass windows from the original church are being restored and placed back into the project on an on-going basis and add just the right touch to the peaceful library.   Dean Richard Zauft also spoke about how important it was to him to bring the community into the school not just through exhibits but workshops and summer programs.  When asked about what they would have done differently, each panelist had a different answer.  “More wall space to display art”, “More storage for art projects”, “Easier building controls” were among the responses.  Even with those wishes yet to be filled, the space has done what it was supposed to do:  upgrade facilities for students, unite a formerly dis-jointed campus and invite the community in.

  • Georgiana Olwell, ECO Logic Ltd. – IFMA Community Projects Committee Member


Cradles to Crayons Brings Together the Community & Facility Professionals

On March 30th this year, NAIOP Massachusetts put on its annual Community Connect Day – Service with Boston’s CRE Industry. This year the event was held at Cradles to Crayons over in Brighton. For those of you that might not know, Cradles to Crayons is charity organization that provides essential items for life for kids up the age of 12. It was founded back in 2002, and has been supplying items for home, school, and play free of charge for those that are homeless or are in low-income situations. It has grown over the years to include 300 Social Service Partners and makes it easy to participate, either via donations or volunteering one’s time at the warehouse organizing the donated items.

- Photo Credit: Annie McEvoy, New England Real Estate Journal

– Photo Credit: Annie McEvoy, New England Real Estate Journal

The Community Connect Day was a collaboration of several industry organizations, including: NAIOP, AAREP NE, BSA, CoreNet Global NE, CREW Boston, SMPS, SWEP, and ULI. This vast spread of partners provided a well-balance group of facility and construction professionals who were able to come together for a volunteer cause outside of their industry. I’m happy to say that next year, IFMA will be on the list of partners and we encourage every member to participate in this event next year!

- Photo Credit: Annie McEvoy, New England Real Estate Journal

– Photo Credit: Annie McEvoy, New England Real Estate Journal

Several of our IFMA Boston Chapter members went together this past month and it was a great turnout. We were able to both network with facility professionals from other organizations while also contributing to a good cause in our local community. The day started out with group activities, where volunteers got to meet everyone while writing motivational cards for the kids being outreached. Volunteers were then split up into groups with an activity leader, thus allowing for a more intimate setting to get to know others during the event. Various activities included: sizing clothes, checking the quality of items, and packing items to be sent out. After all of the groups finished their activities, the volunteers met up as a whole and were recapped the impact of their work by the encouraging staff at Cradles to Crayons. Finally, to put the cherry on top of the day, volunteers then met up together at a nearby Tavern for food, drinks, and networking.

- Photo Credit: Elisif Brandon, Archtectural Photographer

– Photo Credit: Elisif Brandon, Archtectural Photographer

Overall the day was a great success and a definite repeat for those of us that went. I encourage all of you to mark your calendars for Spring-time next year to come out to this very well-run and charitable event. It is a win-win for us as facility professionals, allowing us to give back to our community while growing our network at the same time. Hope to see you there next year!

  • Andrew Verderame, Community Projects Committee: IFMA Boston

A Long History of Giving: IFMA and The Spark Center

As many of you may or may not know, IFMA Boston has maintained a strong relationship with the SPARK Center in Mattapan, MA. On January 15th of this year, SPARK had a special guest visit from the Red Sox’s Mascot Wally and few of our own chapter members. It was a wonderful opportunity for the kids to get to meet Wally and for our members to see where our donations are being put to good use. This past year’s Holiday Gala had a great turn out with donations for SPARK and we want to thank everyone who participated in helping continue what has been a great tradition in IFMA Boston’s Community Outreach.


For those of you that may not know, the SPARK Center was originally known as CAP, which stands for “Children with AIDS Program.” Former Chapter President Joe Flynn reminded me that “IFMA’s relationship with SPARK dates all the way back to the 1980’s.” In the beginning, our chapter partnered with another professional organization IBD to help us start assisting this program for children. As time went on, IBD split up and IFMA Boston made a special effort to maintain our relationship with SPARK on our own.

As a way to keep this tradition alive, our chapter has used our annual Holiday Gala to raise money and support on a consistent basis. In addition, every year our chapter’s Board of Directors makes a special trip to the SPARK Center in Mattapan to donate their time and labor to help upkeep their facility and landscaping. These two annual traditions have helped our chapter to become well-recognized as a strong supporter of SPARK, as Lori Stewart Coletti quotes: “Throughout IFMA Boston’s long history with SPARK, we have been repeatedly recognized as a consistent source of support, upon which the program has come to rely. Especially in times of economic turmoil, IFMA Boston has maintained this support through the generosity of our members, sponsors, and others who understand the vital importance of our contribution to the viability of this program.”

Today, as a part of Boston Medical, SPARK’s mission is to help Boston’s highest-risk children to build better tomorrows. SPARK provides therapeutic, medically-specialized programs for children of all ages based on the concept that all children are resilient and able to be in charge of their futures.

In order to keep this great tradition going, I implore all of members to remember SPARK when it comes to offering time and support as it has a special place in our chapter. This relationship has become a unique part of our chapter’s identity and speaks volumes to our commitment to community. In the future, it would be great for our chapter to create similar relationships and establish annual traditions for us to give back to our Boston Community. One of the great benefits of our chapter is the ability to make your voice heard, and I encourage anyone who knows of any local programs in need to reach out to me (andrew.verderame@siemens.com) or the Board to potentially create another positive relationship with our community.

  • Andrew Verderame, Community Projects Committee: IFMA Boston


Sound Masking in an Office Without Private Offices or Cubicles – The Bridgespan Group



Reducing Distractions and Protecting Speech Privacy in an Open-Concept Space

When the Bridgespan Group, a non-profit consultant group for philanthropists and mission driven organizations, moved to a new 28,000 square foot, one floor location, they saw an opportunity to do something completely different with their office space and the way they worked. One aspirational value of the Bridgespan culture is collaboration—employees work in close-knit teams and the company leadership feels every person has valuable contributions to make. As a result, they wanted a completely open office that was a physical representation of their collaborative spirit. The goal was to design a dramatically different kind of office that would enhance interpersonal interaction and provide a variety of workspace choices for all staff every day while simultaneously keeping costs down.

All employees were invited to participate in the visioning of the new office project, and after numerous brainstorming sessions and a lot of research, a plan for a truly open office emerged. The new office would not have assigned seats, rather, everyone would have a place to store their personal belongings and choose where they wanted to sit throughout the day. At the heart of the office there would be a space with movable tables, sofas, and white boards where teams could meet and discuss work previously done in closed conference rooms. There would be several small comfortable seating clusters throughout the office for small-group conversations, and also sitting and standing work stations for individuals. Those looking for a more private setting could move to the “library” where there would be no conversations or cellphone use. There would be a bank of small private rooms for people to use when they truly needed privacy for meetings, phone calls, or individual work, but there would be no private offices – even for the most senior staff. Conference rooms would have glass walls so meetings could be seen by everyone.

With such a bold vision came privacy and noise concerns. A completely open office space with no cubicle partitions or walls to block sound would mean that speech privacy would be compromised and noise distractions would be elevated. How could Bridgespan retain their open concept vision but also create an acoustically comfortable environment? How could they ensure that teams did not distract one another while working on separate projects? How could they ensure that conversations in conference rooms and private rooms would not be overheard?


QtPro™ Sound Masking System

The Bridgespan Group asked their property managers, Cresa Partners, for potential solutions to office noise problems. Cresa suggested that Bridgespan consider introducing sound masking to the space. Sound masking is the process of adding a low level, unobtrusive background sound to an environment to reduce the intelligibility of human speech and reduce noise distractions. By making nearby conversations unintelligible, sound masking protects speech privacy and allows individuals to work more productively in a space with fewer noise distractions. Sound masking is more cost effective than other acoustical treatments such as partitions or soundproofing materials.

Integrator Connectivity Point won the bid to install Bridgespan’s sound masking. Small, barely visible emitters (speakers) were installed in the open ceiling and drop ceiling areas throughout the open-office space and the designated private areas. The emitters were connected by cables to a QtPro control module residing in the server room. Connectivity Point and Bridgespan worked together on a wiring plan that could facilitate potential zoning changes later on. The system was also configured to act as a docking station for music devices so that Bridgespan could play the music of their choice over the emitters during events and get-togethers.


An Open Office Plan that Actually Worked

Bridgespan was able to create an open office environment that’s both beautiful and functional. Office chatter from team projects is not distracting to employees and groups in other parts of the office. The “library” remains quiet and unaffected by noise in the adjoining open area. Furthermore, private conversations in the private rooms and conference rooms are not overheard by employees in the open area.

“Sound masking helped make our open office concept work. Teams can collaborate out in the open near other teams and employees without being overly distracting. We’re pleased with what the system has done for us.” – Charles Lee, Director of Information Services, The Bridgespan Group


About The Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. They collaborate with social sector leaders to help scale impact, build leadership, advance philanthropic effectiveness and accelerate learning. Bridgespan works on issues related to society’s most important challenges and to break cycles of intergenerational poverty. Their services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.

About Cambridge Sound Management
Cambridge Sound Management, Inc. manufactures QtPro sound masking systems to help organizations across multiple industries protect speech privacy, reduce noise distractions, and fuel workplace productivity. Powered by direct-field Quiet Technology, QtPro works by emitting a uniform, barely perceptible background sound at the frequencies of human speech. Cost effective and easy to install, QtPro is deployed in hundreds of millions of square feet of space throughout the world including commercial organizations, healthcare facilities, financial services, government agencies, and educational institutions.

About Connectivity Point
Connectivity Point specializes in integrated technology solutions for voice, data, video and security applications. They have specific expertise in structured cabling and wireless connectivity, security systems, audio visual equipment, VOIP telephone systems and sound
masking solutions. Connectivity Point services the New England area with their own technicians, and nationally and globally through a network of pre-qualified partners, enabling Connectivity Point to be their clients’ One Point of contact.

Post sponsored by Cambridge Sound Management