Architects deal in the realm of spaces, creating new environments that connect to and enhance the wider community. For 50 years, LPA|A has been based in Worcester and the work of the firm has radiated out from that center across Central Massachusetts. Given the importance of this community to both the firm as a business and to the people who have comprised LPA|A over the years, it is no surprise that service to the community has been a core value for these five decades.
Dick Lamoureux grew up in Central Massachusetts, started his career here, and when he was ready to start his own business, made the decision to open in Worcester. He was a supporter of both the region and his profession, taking leadership in a newly created Central Massachusetts chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) out of the office as it established. Through the years, multiple staff members have taken Board and officer roles at Central Massachusetts AIA.
Supporting the field of architecture in the region through organizations like AIA and encouraging the next generation of architects through internships, mentoring, and scholarships, is a responsibility that LPA|A took on from its earliest days. Over the course of the decades, the scope of the firm’s community service has grown, and the benefits have multiplied. Beyond involvement in industry groups, staff have frequently gotten involved in local nonprofits whose missions support local architecture, organizations like Mechanics Hall and Preservation Worcester.
Deb Packard, Executive Director at Preservation Worcester, said of the firm’s involvement with the organization, “Undoubtedly, one of our strongest allies is LPA|A. With a shared commitment to safeguarding Worcester’s built environment, we collaborate in many ways – large and small. Rob Para, Jr. has served on our Board of Directors since 2006 including a term as president. He is our go-to person when we need architectural advice.”
In the case of Mechanics Hall, the firm was initially hired for some renovations to the historic Worcester landmark in the 1990’s, but the nonprofit’s mission was something Katie Crockett wanted to further support. She took a seat on their Board of Trustees, including a term as president. When LPA|A architect Natalie Gabrielle expressed interest in getting involved with their Modern Mechanics Guild recently, Katie eagerly encouraged the partnership.
“I can’t overstate the value of volunteering, said Katie Crockett. “In my experience, you can make a difference for a community or cause you care about, you can connect with other people who support that cause to multiply your impact, and it is a learning experience and chance to grow personally and professionally.”
In addition to the individual community service efforts of staff members, the firm has sometimes taken on pro bono work to support local nonprofits. When the firm celebrated its 40th year, now a decade ago, LPA|A renovated the food pantry for St. John’s Food for the Poor. More recently, Christina Bazelmans worked with Girls Inc of Worcester to help them with a plan for renovations to their space. She was excited by their mission of “inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold,” and has offered her expertise over the course of the last few years. Her renderings helped the nonprofit secure the funding to move the project forward and construction has been underway since earlier this year.
To encourage all staff to volunteer for causes they care about, LPA|A offers paid time off each year that is designated for volunteer service. The firm also routinely shares volunteer opportunities with staff as they arise. After fundraising for Worcester’s Recreation Worcester program in 2017, LPA|A was invited to engage directly with students through the program. Architect Sean Brennan helped introduce architecture to students during their after-school program with fun activities geared to 9 and 10-year-olds. Sean has also volunteered for school career days and an annual field trip through the city, organized by Preservation Worcester for third graders.
As the firm moves into a new decade, the intention is to continue to build on its legacy in terms of its architectural impact and community service, as the two things are as intertwined as they are critically important for our region.