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BSA Spotlight on Anthony Piermarini

By Isabella DeLeo

What’s in a name? For Studio Luz, a name is a guiding practice, a poesis. Luz, which means light in Spanish, reflects much of what the team strives for. Anthony Piermarini, Principal and Co-Founder of Studio Luz, offers his insights for the Small Practices Designer Spotlight presented by the Boston Society of Architects. “The name echoes illumination as a mental construct” he asserts, “It is this kernel around which to build.”

As Studio Luz is on it’s 20 year anniversary, the team keeps building this practice: learning and doing more and refining our voice and values. Anthony discusses some early experimental projects, including the very first – the Harvard Graduate School of Design Mailslot – which plays with the idea of mail as a matrix for the human body. Among other early work, there’s also the renovation of the cocktail bar and lounge Ombar, which included personal-sized laminated glass podiums to create an intimate and every-changing atmosphere; plus the Diva Lounge renovation, which turned a “shoebox” storefront into an airy, undulating space that could transport patrons away from the stresses of city life.

Anthony shed light on some particular projects in the early 2000s and 2010s that reflected Studio Luz’s focus on interiors. Among these projects, there’s the Harpoon Brewery Visitors Center, what Anthony describes as a “breakthrough” project for the team, and the very personal renovation of the Meyer Residence, a home that partners in work and in life Anthony and Hansy Better Barraza built from “the ground up,” emphasizing energy efficient appliances and a verticality to the space.

10 years into building Studio Luz, Anthony says that the team began refining and critically examining its values. For Anthony, the team began asking, “How do we continue to create and negotiate social relationships?,” in addition to “What cultural rituals, traditions and customs inform architecture?” By asking these important questions, the Studio Luz co-founders decided to create a non-profit organization, BR+A+CE, working on projects that reflect a commitment to equity, sustainability and community, including the Tilt-Down Fence project that honors the contributions that immigrant communities have made to the City of Boston.

In Studio Luz’s almost 20-year practice, Anthony highlights many of the firm’s experience with renovating buildings that have a historic context: including the 691 Massachusetts Avenue Residences on the South End, and the renovation of the former film warehouse at 69 Church Street, which is still under construction.

In Anthony’s view, Studio Luz has “been able to leverage the kind of portfolio that we built over the years and start to pursue the work that I think really kind of ignites a fire in our belly.”