Celebrating our 85th Anniversary: It All Starts with a Deck

This year Steffian Bradley Architects (SBA) is incredibly fortunate to be celebrating 85 years in business. We are commemorating this milestone with a series of blog articles on our past, present and future.

Our trip down memory lane starts way back, beginning in the nineteen thirties. For those of you who don’t know, 85 years ago, Edwin “Ted” Steffian founded Edwin T. Steffian Architects, now known as Steffian Bradley Architects. Starting as one-man studio, SBA has evolved into an international architectural firm, with five offices across three continents. All firms have to start somewhere, right?  But, who would have thought, the now notorious (in our offices at least) “deck project” would have led us to where we are today?   

This infamous deck, shown in the sketches below, was one of the very first recorded projects completed by E. T. Steffian. Archived sketches show the addition to the residence of Ray C. Dreher, Esq. of Wellesley, Massachusetts. The two-floor expansion added a 9’x12’ study off the first floor living room as well as an addition of a closed off “sleeping porch” to the second floor master bedroom. The “deck” is where it all began for SBA!

In Ted’s forty year reign, he and the firm had great success; quickly building a strong reputation within Boston’s emerging design community, he completed projects for academic institutions and private developers throughout the eastern United States. One prominent project, the Boston University Law and Education School’s tower, was a collaboration with Spanish architect and planner Josep Lluis Sert. The tower became a distinctive part of the Boston Skyline, and still is today.

As Ted’s career advanced along with the firm’s, he spent his time taking part in many notable organizations. Seen below, Ted is photographed with former Governor of Massachusetts, Francis W. Sargent while being sworn in as a board member of the MA Designer Selection Board (DSB). Ted also served as chairman of the Cambridge Advisory Committee, which ultimately is credited for developing the re-design plans that lead to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) extension to Harvard Square. 

Ted’s greatest honor came in 1969, when he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, a lifetime honor bestowed for outstanding contributions to the advancement to the profession of architecture. Ted’s impact on the design community extended much further than the projects he designed, his legacy lives on each year through the Edwin T. Steffian Centennial Thesis Award given at the Boston Architectural College (BAC).

As we continue look back upon our history, we are excited to share special moments that have shaped the foundation of who SBA is today. As always, we feel very fortunate and honored to be able to continue to design environments that enhance people’s lives, and hope to be able to do so for the next 85 years!

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