Ann Beha: Expanding the Design Dialogue Between Tradition & Innovation

Ann M. Beha, FAIA; Principal, Ann Beha Architects

BOSTON- Ann M. Beha, FAIA and Principal of Ann Beha Architects has devoted 40 years to building and leading a design practice based in Boston, working on projects that range from local to nationally and even internationally. Her focus is the revitalization of existing buildings and the introduction of contemporary architecture in historic settings. Throughout her career, Beha has been a thought leader and advocate for this combination of the old and the new.

A graduate of Wellesley College, Beha received her Master of Architecture degree from MIT and was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She has been a trustee and past president of Historic New England, served on Visiting Committees at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Architecture at the City College of New York, and is a member of Harvard University’s Design Advisory Panel. In 2023, she will be a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Design at Yale University.

Widely recognized nationally and internationally, Beha has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New England Chapter of the Victorian Society in America, the Women in Design Award of Excellence as well as the Honor Award from the Boston Society of Architects in 2018 and was given the inaugural Award of Honor from the US Department of State, Overseas Building Operations Industry Advisory Group in 2019.

Newberry Library, Chicago (Photo/Tom Rossiter)

When asked, Beha says that her greatest joy is her collaboration with her teams and clients, advocating for architecture that serves and inspires, and reflects its stakeholders and community. A native New Yorker, she lives in Boston with her husband Rob Radloff, and has two grown daughters, Macy and Allison, who inspire her every day.

Grolier Club, New York City (Photo/Michael Moran)

With a staff of 65% minorities and women, Ann Beha Architects (ABA) has been cited for its mentoring, outreach, and decades of community service. Her projects expand the design dialogue between tradition and innovation. Marked by strong historical, cultural, and educational content, her planning and design work advocates for innovative contemporary expression, the sustainable renewal of historic resources, and a progressive approach to planning for the arts, the community, and the campus. ABA’s clients include the U.S. Department of State, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as other leading academic, civic, and cultural organizations.

ABA is well known in Boston for its work, including such projects and locations as:

The firm is currently undertaking projects for the Smithsonian Institution, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Athenaeum, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; the US Department of State Embassies program, and in Boston’s South End, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA). ABA has built partnerships with national and international firms and is architect for long-term planning at the US Embassy in Paris, and, now in construction, the renewal and expansion of the US Embassy in Athens, Greece.

Greenwich Academy Lower and Middle school, exterior (Photo/Michael Moran)

ABA establishes a dynamic discourse between heritage and the future, dedicated both to contemporary architecture and the revitalization of historic resources. Collaborating with academic, cultural, and civic institutions, ABA’s work creates transformative and enduring places for change, growth, and celebration. Shaping and strengthen community life, the firms planning, and design work supports new directions, identities, and settings for education, the arts, and the civic realm. Founded as a woman-owned, and now a Minority-owned Business Enterprise, ABA is committed to diversity and opportunity, and has been named an Emerging Professional Friendly Firm by AIA New England for supporting advancement through professional development and personal growth opportunities. ABA’s work combines a deep knowledge of historic preservation with innovative design solutions that balance heritage with contemporary occupant needs, sustainability, and resiliency. Its new design work is cited for its clarity, simplicity, and enduring value—hallmarks of architecture that is built to last.

Ann M. Beha, FAIA; Principal, Ann Beha Architects

Boston Real Estate Times asked Ann Beha a few questions as a part of our coverage of the 2022 Outstanding Women in Real Estate Awards.

Boston Real Estate Times: How has architecture changed your life? How has the industry changed during the last 30 years as far as technology, markets and design are concerned?

Ann Beha: Architecture is my profession and passion. I love the content of our projects, deeply rooted in community, culture, and education. Within that I am looking for a “deeper dig” into how we live, how we build, how we plan sustainably for our communities, and the next generation. For me, Architecture is about design, but also about content, impact, research, and teamwork—and more. Practicing as a leader and pacemaker takes curiosity, imagination, a sense of humor—and a titanium spine!

The future of architecture belongs to all of us, especially the new architectural generation. Urgencies: to embrace design for equity and social change, resilience and sustainability, all so essential to our community. Urgent focus on open space, density management, a robust infrastructure—these underlie the profession today.