Lifetime Achievement Robert Verrier, AIA

June 23, 2010
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Robert Verrier, the president and founder of the Architectural Team on Admiral’s Hill – one of the leading architectural firms in Boston – turned 70 this week.

It is a birthday to note not just because he designed Admiral’s Hill, but rather, because his career as an architect has been exemplary in every way.

Throughout a long life, and a long business life, Verrier’s word has been his unbreakable bond. He is an honest man with a great talent, a positive spirit and a great sense of aesthetics and design.

While others in his profession have come and gone over the decades, he has succeeded in expanding the Architectural Team and at the same expanding his personal influence in the building industry.

He is a tremendous pillar of strength for his friends. He is a generous guy. He loves life. He especially loves his life.

He has been a loyal father and husband and over the years, he has remained loyal to those who have worked for him and who fought side by side with him through the ups and downs that dominate a businessman’s life.

Verrier is an architect first but he’s also a businessman.

He has known what it’s like to face payroll when there’s no money in the bank account.

Conversely, he has shared the wealth at his firm, where he is considered free- wheeling, a bon vivant, and someone who enjoys sharing victories with the staff.

For the last 50 years, he has made a career of preserving the architectural heritage not only of New England but of other distinct architectural regions throughout the United States, his daughter Maria wrote recently in a book she created about her father’s life in honor of reaching the age of 70.

“My father has proved that few historic buildings are too wide, too narrow, too specific for their original purpose, or too neglected to restore and adapt to a new use. According to my father, buildings are too important to our identity and national diversity to be considered disposable,” she wrote.

Indeed.

Over the years since opening the firm, which is housed in the grand, Georgian design commandant’s house on the former Naval Hospital property on Admiral’s Hill, Verrier’s Architectural Team has served as the architect for substantial projects on Boston’s Commercial Wharf, in the former RH Stearns Building in downtown, the former Somerset Hotel, The Charlestown Boys and Girls Club, Battery Wharf and dozens upon dozens of exciting real estate developments and rehabilitations throughout New England.

One of Verrier’s dearest friends and associates, the late Ed Fish (Mr. Fish died last week), said of Verrier that he has a great imagination, a great attitude and that he’s a great friend.

Mr. Fish’s construction company built Admiral’s Hill and rehabilitated into modern residential housing units the 19th Century granite building and the old hospital building which both stand today as fine examples of preservation and reuse.

“On his 70th birthday, I am sure Bob can reflect on his achievements and firmly believes that the great things he has accomplished are the end result of perception, wisdom, hard work and the ability to respect his colleagues as much as we all respect him,” wrote Mr. Fish shortly before he died.

Many of his architects and colleagues thought Verrier had lost his mind when in 1985, he decided on the move to Chelsea into the commandant’s residence on Admiral’s Hill.

A longtime colleague and partner, architect Mike Binette, said that he thought Verrier had lost his mind when they drove over the Tobin Bridge to Chelsea to view the new company quarters.

“The Commandant’s house had a hole in the roof, boarded up windows and a tree growing out of the first floor living room,” Binette recalled.

“Bob was enthusiastic,” he added.

‘”Isn’t this fantastic. This is gonna be great,”’ he recalled Verrier saying that day.

“We all saw our bonuses going down the drain – but Bob envisioned a great headquarters for us – and he was right, as always,” Binette added.

Twenty-five years have passed since Verrier set up shop on Admiral’s Hill.

He remains upbeat and confident, sharp as a tack and enthusiastic about the future.

I have known Bob since he first came to Chelsea.

He has been a wonderful friend – and a friend who remained one during the tough times.

The man I know, the Bob Verrier I respect and admire, is what I like to refer to as the real thing.

After all these years, he is the best thing the Architectural Team has going for itself.

He is the heart and soul of that firm.

At 70, he has the spirit and the ambition of a much younger man.

The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best about people like Bob Verrier when he wrote, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

Happy Birthday, Bob – you’re a great guy, and a generous man.

Thank you for your friendship.


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