Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) is a firm practicing architecture focused on the co-creation of places which enrich ideation, collaboration and well-being in all spheres of daily life. Our consistent dedication to creativity and innovation at every scale, looking at seemingly ordinary problems in new ways, is a response to the forward looking spirit which we find in our clients and which our clients aim to engender in the end users of their projects.
We are futurists in the same way that our clients are futurists. We understand that reaching to anticipate the shape of the future – from improved quality of construction and detail, to new modes of use and patterns of organization - is an essential goal of architecture today and our utmost responsibility. Because of this commitment, buildings and environments by JLA are positioned to endure to serve future generations, both in their materiality and in their forward-looking, flexibly efficient functionality.
In the end, the uniqueness of our firm lies in our unparalleled dedication, partnering with visionary client leadership, to achieving world-class results within the bounds of demanding public/institutional processes and finite resources. It is architecture whose purpose is to produce unexpected benefits and cherished long-term value for our patron organizations and for every inhabitant - creating stimulating and inspirational places for the mind.
JLA was founded in 1985. Since its reorganization in 1995, our three studios have been housed in a landmark classical limestone townhouse overlooking the Charles River Esplanade in Boston’s Back Bay. The practice consists of a closely knit team of architects and staff working collaboratively on a variety of project types ranging in size and type from residences to government buildings to plans for townships.
We are led by Jonathan Levi FAIA who directs design for all projects and participates in all phases of execution. Mr. Levi is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and National Peer for the Office of the Chief Architect of the United States. He is former Adj Full Professor of Architectural Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design where, for 28 years, he taught studios, lectured and led curriculum as a core faculty member in design, construction technology and practice.
Key staff includes Philip Gray AIA and Mark Warner AIA, each with over 30 years of experience, spearheading organization, management and technological excellence for a wide spectrum of nationally significant cultural and institutional projects. Senior Associate, Elizabeth Bugbee AIA, ensures that our building information modeling technology (adopted in 2005) and integrated design cultures remain at the leading edge of international practice standards. Nationally awarded visioning leader, Sunkyu Koh provides inspirational delineations and illustrations to support project audience understanding and momentum building.
Principal / Lead Designer
JLA’s proven long term success derives from our expert focus on mediation-based consensus building. Through our extensive capacity for design flexibility and improvisation, we are able to both shorten and strengthen the cycle of listening, research, design and response in order to rapidly achieve an identity of purpose with our clients and their constituencies.
In practice, we do this by mining the self-knowledge expertise of our clients; eliciting and methodically assimilating responses to numerous carefully-crafted and strategically-arrayed design alternatives. We believe that the comprehensiveness of our alternatives for client deliberation exceeds the industry standard - leaving no stone unturned. Public and committee presentations delivered by Jonathan Levi FAIA, a professional lecturer and expert public speaker, lucidly sort out and unlock complex design constraints and solutions in order to reinforce confident decision-making.
In employing the necessary rigor that comes from precisely laying out and clarifying alternatives, our internal creative process is enriched. In this way, the growth of a project’s creative principles and objectives is bound to the growth of our client collaborator’s productive understanding and genuine participation; making for a product which is truly co-created. Co-created architecture is architecture that is understood and embraced by the community as their own – which, we believe, is the ultimate measurement of value.
The highest aspirations of any building project are dependent on successful management of schedule and budget. With a deep history of repeat clients, JLA’s stalwart performance in project delivery is an unambiguous record of exceeding expectations. Projects ranging from $23M to $110M, delivered under exhaustive public scrutiny and with unalterable completion dates, have consistently been bid on budget and executed on time with minimal change orders. Whether working with Design/Bid/Build or Construction Management methods, a key ingredient of this consistency has been our success in fostering positive, productive collaborations with project delivery team members and organizations.
Buildings and environments designed by JLA are renowned for the extensive consideration given to the details of construction and the human scale design of inhabited spaces. It is a level of consideration stemming from Mr. Levi’s decades-long technical research and teaching; and which is pursued through an indefatigable level of personal involvement; from client meetings to autograph drawings of technical details to direct site observation.
The result is buildings that are distinguished by a consistently high level of intention throughout - generating superb functional and experiential resolution in every space and at every surface. They are buildings intended to respect the reality of how they influence the everyday moments of experience and which reflect the detailed needs and purposes of their inhabitants as much as they uplift the public realm. So that, in other words, a classroom interior is as important as a ceremonial stair; and a window jamb as important as an urban axis.