A FEW MINUTES WITH ADRIAN CADDY OF GREENSPACE, A VALUED LONGTIME CONSULTANT OF CORE INVESTMENTS, INC.
Adrian Caddy is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Greenspace, which works with Core Investments, Inc. on the developing On the Dot neighborhood in South Boston and other projects.
Adrian, what does Greenspace do?
We are a design consultancy focusing on branding and marketing and experiential design. We create brands, communication, exhibitions and event experiences.
How old is Greenspace?
We’re 20 years old this year, in October.
How many people does Greenspace have?
About 15 or 20.
What other countries do you have projects in?
A lot. Kenya, the Middle East, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, where we’re doing something right now. All across Europe — Denmark, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Dublin mainly. And North America.
How long has Greenspace worked with Core?
I think this is our fifth year, including two years of the pandemic.
What does Greenspace do for Core Investments?
We were introduced to Dave [Dave Pogorelc, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Core Investments] and John [John Cissel, President of Core Development] and Brett [Brett Lazar, President of Core Investments] five years ago by Mario San Jacinto, who was a client on the Old War Office Building project [redevelopment into a Raffles Hotel] in London. He was impressed by our work crafting a vision and narrative, writing stories for that project. He said Dave and the guys need to tell their story. They hadn’t got a vision down for this place yet. We came to Boston and I met Dave and John and Brett first thing in the morning at a cafe in Kendall Square, and they took me on the Red Line. Fifteen minutes later we were at Andrew Square Station and went to the top of Dorchester Heights. Then we went to lunch. They wanted me to understand immediately that this place, which became better known as On the Dot, has incredibly quick connections to the knowledge centers, especially with regard to life sciences, also with untold history and lifestyle, with proximity to the beach — which made it unique.
We see this place as something you could imagine in the future, as one of the significant centers for life science and lifestyle 10 to 15 years from now. We went back and started our work and researched as much as we could the history of Dorchester and South Boston. We did a deep dive into the City of Boston’s 2030 vision plan, as well as other documents. We did interviews with stakeholders, within Core and some of the early partners involved, in starting to shape the story. Then we came back to Boston and we gave a report of what we learned. We finished off by playing back the legacy idea for Core, which we called “creating communities to our core,” summarizing what the Core organization is all about and post-rationalizing the name of the company, or using that as a jumping off point for telling the story of this yet unnamed place.
I found this poem just in my research, nothing to do with Boston, it had to do with the Emancipation Proclamation, [Ralph Waldo] Emerson had written it. But I found it fascinating, read out on the steps of the Capitol in Boston. The site made it unique. I liked it enough to write a manifesto for this place, inspired by the tone of voice and similar language and weaving into it things I’d picked up from Dave and historical search, about this urban neighborhood for young people. And it also remembered [President] Kennedy’s moonshot speech. I thought that was quite a nice place to start a manifesto. So we put it together with some music and film and played it for Dave, and they really liked it.
They were about to onboard Stantec and Halvorsen [other consultants]. I was invited to a meeting, and there were plans on the wall, an early investigation as to place, and Dave was key to play that film we’d made as a way to get everybody around the same table. And everybody warmed to it as well and said it’s good to have a story to work from. That’s how we got started and involved.
The next thing was to come up with a name for this place. I like to say it sort of named itself. People called Dorchester Ave. “the dot”. It’s a great name. Calling it On the Dot allowed us to sort of own it. We tweaked it slightly. It sounds like a place here and also something to do with a place in time. “Meet you at 5 o’clock on the dot.” It had a double meaning as a place and playfulness. Our next task was to craft the identity of the brand, to give it a look and a feel.
What’s interesting about working on Core’s projects?
What attracts me to this project is to project for the long term. There’s huge potential to leave an incredible legacy. On a more specific level, I love history, and I’m fascinated by the layers of history you find in places. So I was drawn to the meetings we had at beginning of the project with Bob Allison, the historian. It was amazing to spend time talking to him. And we interviewed him and filmed him, and that was tremendous. Then, going to the Leventhal library (map collection, at Boston Public Library). I wasn’t aware Boston was a bunch of islands that was filled in.
How many people at Greenspace work on the Core account?
Everyone has had a role to play in it. Graphic design, 3D designers, some filmmaking, web. On a day to day, week to week basis, Gabi [Gabriela Sperling, Production Director], Lene [Lene Nielsen, Managing Partner], Andrew [Andrew Fish, Lead Designer on Core projects]. About four of us constantly at work.
What is your particular role?
As with many of the bigger projects, I’m really the director of the project. If you like, the executive creative director. I take a role like a movie director. I’m responsible for making sure story gets told the best way.
How often do you get to Boston and how much do you travel?
I’m in Boston once a month for a meeting. I usually travel two or three times a month.
Adrian, what is your background and what inspires Greenspace?
When I started it was just myself. The reason it is “Greenspace” is the very first project I did independently, after left my previous firm, was a commission by a Dutch beer company, Heineken. And the project I came up with was called Greenspace. It was a project to create a cultural destination in Valencia in Spain, and it took about two years. I became known as the guy from Greenspace. I was working with the Heineken international creative team. People saw me as the owner of the project, so the company kind of named itself.
The brewery in Valencia was one of our signature legacy projects. We like to talk about legacy, the long-term vision of any kind of project. It’s a good starting point for any kind of project. “What do you want to leave behind?” Even for a startup.
And where did you grow up?
I grew up in Australia. My parents are both English and were working in Sydney. I was there 10 years, then a couple of years in Malaysia, at an American school. Then I came to England and lived in London. When I left art school, called Central St. Martin’s School of Art, one of the eminent art and design colleges, I started doing corporate entity design. I moved to a pretty big global design and events and exhibits firm called Imagination. After 10 years I became executive creative director. We did a global auto show program for Ford Motor Co. They owned about eight car companies — Austin Martin, Volvo — and did a host of exhibition programs, in Detroit and Las Vegas, concourse shows. In Frankfort, Paris, London, Barcelona, Tokyo, Beijing. It was a rolling annual exhibit program to support the auto business.
One of the signature projects I did there was design of a Guinness storehouse. I led the whole project to design that, in a building 250 years old, built as a fermentation factory. When we got the charge to remake it, I had the idea to make the middle of the building a pint glass. The bar is like the white head of a Guinness. That became an incredible success and has 1.7 million visitors a year, the highest number of paid visitors in Europe. That’s when I fell in love with idea for doing things for long term, legacy. That’s when I left and started my company. My first commission was from Heineken. They saw the Guinness project.
Where do you live now?
In West London. I live with Lene [Nielsen], who as well as my wife is a Managing Partner of Greenspace.
What do you do to have fun when you’re not working?
We and my daughter and dog love to hike and go on lots of walks. I run, play soccer every week, and tennis in the summer. I love dance, drumming. I have a kit of drums at home. I’m a motorcyclist and was big into track cycling when I was a bit younger. I have Ducati and Honda 1000cc sport bikes.
What’s a favorite place of yours in the Boston area?
I stay at the Lenox. I like taking walks around the whole Back Bay area. Newbury Street to the Museum of Fine Art. I like the North End. We took a boat ride to Spectacle Island last summer that was great, seeing the city and the islands and whales. I’ve made a couple of visits to the Kennedy Museum. As an architect, it’s great to see that building, as well as the Hancock.