A FEW MINUTES WITH ROB ADAMS OF HALVORSON, A VALUED CONSULTANT OF CORE INVESTMENTS, INC.
Rob Adams is the Principal Landscape Architect at Halvorson Design, a part of Tighe & Bond Studio, a landscape architecture and urban design firm. Halvorson focuses primarily on New England and works with Core Investments, Inc. on developing the On the Dot® neighborhood in South Boston and other projects.
Rob, what do you actually do for Core – what’s your role?
What we do for Core is help them envision and execute the construction of their public realm and integration of ground-floor uses into the street and vice versa. We consult with them for exterior public realm placemaking around their property, On the Dot®, the Cannonball Cafe. We did some early work on Washington Village for them. [On the Dot® is Core’s 21-acre planned mixed-use neighborhood in a former industrial area of South Boston recently approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The first phase of Washington Village, a nearby mixed-use project, opened recently.]
How many people at Halvorson work with Core?
Typically three. I’m the principal in charge. There’s a design lead. I have a project manager, Shannon Jamieson, and a staff person, Heather Edin. Sometimes depending on demand, we staff up.
Do you work on multiple projects for other companies?
We right now probably are working on eight to ten projects, mostly around the waterfront, focused on resilience, sea-level rise mitigation, and how to make public spaces accessible and inviting. We aspire to create open space that solves many problems, creates new open-space networks, and provides mitigation, future transportation corridors, and multiuse infrastructure. We work with developers, institutions, and agencies focused on large-scale public realm, streetscapes, and multimodal waterscapes.
What’s interesting about working on Core’s projects?
What’s interesting or notable about working with Core and, fortunately, some of our other developers is they understand the value of making a community and making a place. The value that it brings to a neighborhood, the value that it brings back to themselves, not building and flipping. These developers honestly earnestly believe in making a place better, and that has so many dimensions. Making the environment, aesthetics, and the neighborhood economy better for them. Their objectives are multifaceted and multilayered, which makes for a better project at the end of the day. To me, that’s the difference about working with Core.
Rob, what is your background?
I went to Ball State University, College of Architecture and Planning, in the Midwest, Indiana. Then I did my internship at Halvorson in ’92. I came out to Boston. Craig Halvorson, who owned the firm, took me under his wing and mentored me for the next 10 years, and I went from undergrad to work, which is a little unusual. There are a lot of master’s degrees in the design profession. I was exposed to design and found design inspiration from Craig; he was an amazing teacher. We did the master plan for the [Rose Kennedy] Greenway, us, and SMWM out of San Francisco – the open-space master plan, which helped ‘parcelize’ the corridor, including the North End parks. We also worked on the [adjacent] Federal Reserve Bank and partnered with Machado and Silvetti on Dewey Square.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Peoria, Illinois, about two hours south of Chicago, and got my Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture at Ball State.
Where do you live now?
I live in Portland, Maine, now. I was in Boston from ’99 until 2019. I spend three days a week in Boston.
What do you do to have fun when you’re not working?
Mainly bike ride, and I ski in the winter, but primarily bike riding of all sorts. Road and gravel biking recently, road biking. There’s fat-tire biking in the winter as well. We have a place in Vermont, and they have trails they groom for fat bikes. You’re riding your bike while it’s snowing in the woods, and it’s magical.
What’s a favorite place of yours in the Boston area?
I lived in the South End for 20 years. I’m pretty fond of the South End. And there’s this little park we renovated twice now – Titus Sparrow Park, named after an African-American tennis player. It’s like the perfect little neighborhood park, not fancy, but a place where the community came together. It’s at Columbus and West Newton, with a church on one end, United Union Methodist.