Like many firms, Merge Architects got its start on small-scale projects, such as storefronts. A decade later, the boundary between a project and the city—the streetscape—continues to fascinate the Boston firm’s founder and principal, Elizabeth Whittaker. “We’re always trying to find ways, materially and conceptually, to frame the public,” she says. “We’re interested in how people interact in our projects.”
Merge draws people to its work by using readily available materials, such as wooden dowels and cotton straps, to create “highly custom moments,” she says. “That’s how we define the reality of the budget and further our aspirations beyond the off-the-shelf.” When the one-off design elements are too complicated or expensive for a general contractor to construct, Merge’s staff takes on the task. “We are very hands-on in terms of making the project when we can or need to be,” she says.
Wanda Lau, LEED AP, is the editor of tech, practice, and products for ARCHITECT and Architectural Lighting. Along with 10 years of AEC experience, she holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Michigan State University, an S.M. in building technology from MIT, and an M.A. in journalism from Syracuse University's Newhouse School. Her work has appeared in Men's Health, ASID Icon, and University Business. Follow her on Twitter.