Press Releases August 2, 2023

Boston Architect Robert Brown to Retire After More than 40 Years in Practice

Derek Johnson to Lead the Corporate and Commercial Practice for Perkins&Will's Boston Studio

BOSTONRobert Brown, the former managing director of Perkins&Will’s Boston studio, head of the studio’s corporate and commercial practice, and a leading architect for more than 40 years in greater Boston’s commercial real estate development market, has announced he will retire in September 2023. A trusted advisor to his clients and the firm, and a mentor to many in the industry, Robert has held leadership roles at Perkins&Will since 2012 as a member of the board of directors, regional managing director for the Northeast, and managing director of the firm’s London, U.K. studio.

Brown‘s leadership has been instrumental to the design and delivery of some of Boston’s and Cambridge’s most iconic buildings and developments, such as MIT’s Kendall Square South of Main initiative; the View Boston Observatory at the Prudential Center; the Sanofi building at Cambridge Crossing; and the award-winning Exchange at 100 Federal Street.

“Perkins&Will is a one-of-a-kind firm that is a design leader in many sectors, but also a place that values diverse thinking, fosters collaboration, and encourages ingenuity,” says Brown. “It has been a great joy and pleasure to have been a member of the Boston team and global leadership.”

Prior to his time at Perkins&Will, Brown was a principal for 30 years at another Boston-area architecture, interior design, and urban design firm. He has led commercial interiors and architecture practices, designing millions of square feet of innovative, mixed-use developments both locally and internationally. His projects include 111 Huntington, the Belvedere, and Atlantic Wharf in Boston, and a waterfront development in Bermuda. Brown also spearheaded noted academic projects at Middlebury College in Vermont, Babson College in Wellesley, and the Prospect Hill Charter School in Cambridge.

"Robert is one of the most talented leaders in the architecture and design industry. Beyond his superb design and client management skills, his leadership skills come naturally and effortlessly. As a result, in his tenure at Perkins&Will, he has transformed our Boston studio into one of the most creative and dynamic studios in our firm, with superlative business results. We are deeply appreciative of Robert’s contributions."

– Phil Harrison, CEO

Robert Brown and Derek Johnson together at their jointly led project, View Boston.

Following Brown’s retirement, Derek Johnson will take over as leader of the corporate and commercial practice for the Boston studio. Johnson—a LEED Accredited Professional and certified passive house design consultant—joined Perkins&Will in 2012 and has earned a reputation as a trusted manager and project leader. For the past year, he and Brown have jointly led the practice, completing projects such as the Exchange, View Boston, and the SunLife headquarters in Portland, Maine.

“Over my years of practice, strong relationships with my clients have been so important,” Brown says. “I know Derek will continue to steward those relationships with care and a keen design eye for the firm’s future projects.”

Johnson brings expertise in both adaptive reuse and ground-up design to the role of practice leader. He is known for his commitment to ensuring a project’s design goals—and the client’s expectations—are met, from the earliest phases of design through completion.

“It has been a pleasure working with Robert these past 11 years; his mentorship and support have positioned me well for this next stage of my career,” Johnson says. “I look forward to continuing the many professional relationships we have nurtured together, as well as developing my own.”

Brown’s inquisitive, uniquely collegial approach to architecture and design has left an indelible mark on Perkins&Will. Yet his positive influence extends well beyond the firm, reaching the industry at-large through decades of involvement with the Boston Society of Architects (including two terms as its President), and a longstanding membership with the Urban Land Institute’s Renovation and Reuse Council.

“Robert’s contributions to Perkins&Will include his 10-year tenure as managing director for the Boston studio, where he created an innovative and collaborative culture, promoted talent growth and development, and focused on elevating design across various practices,” says Yanel de Angel, managing director of Perkins&Will’s Boston studio. (De Angel succeeded Brown in November 2021.) “His legacy goes beyond projects; people always come first. He instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in teams and brought joy to our studio. While he will be greatly missed, the future of our studio—and our corporate and commercial practice under Derek’s leadership—is bright.”