Interior Designers Marissa Meads and Grace Santos were featured in New England Real Estate Journal’s 2023 Women in Commercial Real Estate Spotlight:

Marissa Meads: 

1. What recent project, transaction, or accomplishment are you most proud of?

We recently had a challenging project where we had to overcome several obstacles in order to complete the project. Although it was a stressful experience, it taught me that communication between clients, engineers, and contractors is essential, and patience is key. It also taught me to always confirm and triple-check all project details.

2. What are the most important factors women in your industry should consider when choosing a firm to build their career with?

Consider the opportunities to develop your leadership skills and to be mentored. Take advantage of networking opportunities and foster relationships with people who will be able to provide you with helpful advice.

3. Who inspires you most? What qualities do they possess that inspire you?

I have been inspired by a good friend and former coworker who has taught me how to navigate through obstacles in design. Her advice also taught me the value of asking questions and continuing to learn. You will always have someone with more experience than you to learn from.


Grace Santos: 

1. What recent project, transaction, or accomplishment are you most proud of?

I recently completed a 30,000 s/f office fit-out for an investment management company. The project team I worked with was incredible. Sustainability was very important to the client. Our team designed the space to be welcoming and comfortable for employees and visitors, but at the same time, made sure that each material selected was thoroughly researched for environmental impact. I love seeing and hearing employees’ reactions to the space.

2. What are the most important factors women in your industry should consider when choosing a firm to build their career with?

It is important to choose a firm that allows you to feel comfortable and pushes you to give your best. When leadership at the firm is approachable and listens to your needs and concerns, it allows for a more positive work environment. Other important factors include project diversity and training.

3. Who inspires you most? What qualities do they possess that inspire you?

My mother and female colleagues at my firm inspire me most. These women have drive, leadership, creativity, passion, intelligence, and humility and push me every day to give my best, get out of my comfort zone, try new things, and think outside of the box.

See Marissa and Grace featured in this year’s NEREJ Women in Commercial Real Estate Spotlight. 

By Senior Interior Designer Jenna Meyers, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP

There are many factors that prompt a company to begin thinking about whether they should stay in their current space or move. Chief among them is an impending lease expiration; significant changes in staff size; the need to cut costs; or a merger, acquisition, or consolidation.

A common misconception is that it is less costly to renegotiate and renew a lease that includes an allowance for renovations. This is not always the case when you consider the disruption to workflow that an ambitious construction project can cause, along with higher costs when there is no swing space to accommodate staff while their area is being worked on. This scenario would necessitate construction phasing, thus prolonging the project schedule and potentially requiring certain tasks to be performed at night or on a weekend, which means overtime pay. Even if there is swing space in your building or another building, there would be associated rental costs. However, if renovations are limited to simple cosmetic improvements like new carpet and paint, then disruption is relatively minor and short-lived, and staying may be the best option if a company’s current space will meet their needs for the length of a new lease.

Companies considering lease renewal versus a move should strongly consider working with an architect that will test fit their basic program to available space in feasible buildings, including their own. For new and/or small companies anticipating a stable head count, this traditional approach may suffice. But for larger and more established organizations or those with dynamic marketing goals and corresponding growth trajectories, detailed programming at the outset is to their ultimate advantage. Why? Because an accurate, comprehensive program is at the core of every successful facilities decision, particularly when it comes to one that has such critical first- and long-term ramifications associated with cost, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

In partnership with clients whose circumstances have led them to the “stay or go” point, that process involves conducting an in-depth programming exercise that incorporates a range of data, from operational information, spatial interrelationships and adjacencies, and current and projected head counts, to space usage and types, furniture, hybrid work scenarios, and goals surrounding brand, functionality, productivity, company culture, sustainability, and workplace environment, among others. Once the program and vision have been completed, the resulting information can be applied with high confidence to test fits.

We often work closely with brokers and tenant representatives to evaluate the pros and cons of each location and assist with the final building selection. A case in point is Boston Trust Walden, an independent, employee-owned investment management firm. They decided to move after realizing that their office could not accommodate growth. Reevaluating their space usage helped crystalize their objectives, which were to achieve a contemporary, functional space that facilitates individual and collaborative work, accommodates future growth, and manifests their core values. Opting to stay at One Beacon Street, the firm moved to the 34th floor. As an outcome of conscientious programming and collaboration, their new office space, which was expanded by 50%, features a design based on equitable access to natural light, sustainability, and transparency, reflecting key company principles.

With many such examples in our project experience, we can attest that workplace decisions built on a foundation that combines factual data and aspirational criteria are always the most successful.

This article was featured in High Profile Monthly.