Deep Space Exploration or an LS&A Specialty?​

LS&A is proud to announce the completion of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Mission Control relocation from Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA to Burlington, MA. Architecture: Hudson Design Group, Interior Design: Leslie Saul & Associates Lighting design: HLB Boston.

Too Large? Too Small? Or Just Right? The Goldilocks Effect​

A potential client asked whether we were too small for their project. She asked what would happen if one of us got “hit by a bus.” It’s a great question, no matter the size of a firm. Usually there is one person who knows the most about each project. In our firm, Monique, Suma and I are in constant communication, so we all know a lot about each project.

Playing to the crowd

LS&A is proud to announce that our project is featured in the August 2019 Boston Magazine, SPACES article entitled “Playing to the Crowd”

Celebrate Independence; Remember why we celebrate July 4th.​

One of Thomas Jefferson’s last letters was written on June 24, 1826, declining the invitation from the Mayor of Washington, DC to join a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. All three surviving signers of the Declaration declined the Mayor’s invitation due to their poor health...

Gamboge Yellow, a color with some potty humor, I mean history​

Have you ever heard of the yellow known as Gamboge? According to Kassia St. Clair in The Secret Livesof Color (Penguin Books c. 2016), “Gamboge is the solidified sap of Garcinia trees, and comes primarilyfrom Cambodia, or Camboja as it was once known, which is how Gamboge got its name.” Here in New England, when we think of the tapping the sap of trees, we imagine Maple Syrupproduction, with dripping sap flowing into buckets hanging off trees. Every Maple tree over 12” indiameter can produce 10-20 gallons of sap. Some Maple trees can fill the bucket in as little as half a day.By contrast, Garcinia tree sap takes a year to fill the bucket and harden into the form that getsprocessed for pigment. Artists in the Far East and India used Gamboge for hundreds of years on scrolls, illustrated oversizedletters at the beginning of paragraphs, paintings and miniatures. When the first pigment reached Europein 1603 on a Dutch India ship, artists were thrilled to get to use a yellow as bright as the sun. Rembrandtused Gamboge to color the haloes on his paintings. Turner and Reynolds also loved it. According to St.Clair, William Hooker, landscape painter and botanist, mixed Gamboge with a little Prussian Blue tomake “Hooker’s Green, the perfect color for painting leaves.” But watch out, those of you who want the perfect yellow or green. The pigment was also used by 19 thcentury doctors as an excellent purgative. “A small amount produced profuse discharges, while largerdoses could be FATAL” (my CAPS!) St. Clair writes that the workers at Winsor & Newton who crushedthe solidified Garcinia tree sap to make the Gamboge pigment would have to rush to the toilet once anhour while working with it! A French physicist, Jean Perrin, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1926 after using Gamboge to proveEinstein’s theory of Brownian Motion. In the early 20 th Century Gamboge was replaced by aureolin, an artificial yellow that was not as brightnor as translucent as Gamboge, but was resistant to fading. Winsor and Newton continued to make andsell the authentic natural Gamboge until 2005, when stopping production must have left artistsdisappointed, but workers relieved. On this rainy June day, think of the happy yellow of sunshine, Gamboge. (I hope you can avoid the pottyimagery as you think of this particular yellow). Color can change your attitude. If you have a desire to add color to your office, retail store, restaurant, senior living facility, privatehome, synagogue, church, college or other learning environment, please call! Let us put color to workfor you. Contact us through our website on this link:​

Why Diversity and Inclusion? Inclusion makes for Diversity, which makes for Sustainability​ 

Nature in its purest form is a great model for how to make life sustainable, circle of life, and so on. Early humans lived in a nomadic life as they followed the natural abundance of food as those food sources changed seasonally. They hunted ...

Why Generalists Succeed in a Specialists’ World​

I was inspired by David Epstein’s book: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World Epstein proposes that despite the pressure to start kids on violin or golf at an early age to guarantee mastery, there is another path to success: letting kids try many different sports and/or instruments and even musical genres. Specialists who have achieved at the highest level ...

Innovation through Curiosity, Resilience and Persistence​: A look at the life of thomas edison

Curiosity is having an intense interest in how things work and interact with other things, what things do  and don’t do, and in general knowledge about anything.  A curious person wants to learn more about  things and isn’t satisfied with a cursory overview of something. A curious person is rarely bored.  Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a set‐back.  Resilience may be the most important skill to  have in life.  Resilience gives people the ability to overcome emotional distress, job losses, bad teachers,  abusive family and friends, having your perfect idea shot down, and even waking up one day and  realizing you have been going down the wrong path.  I propose that there is no innovation without resilience.  We are currently working with a client that had  organizational resilience when they completely changed their business from consulting to software in  order to follow economic opportunities.  But that is a topic for another post.  This post is about an  individual who overcame poverty and personal set‐backs to persevere until he achieved success.  I think  that if we could figure out how to build resilience in people, we could help the disadvantaged overcome  their circumstances and build a better world for all. Resilience may not lead directly to innovation  without the other characteristics: curiosity and persistence. If every individual had at least one person who believed in them and their capabilities, and who sparked  their curiosity, resilience and persistence, perhaps we could solve the world’s challenges, while leaving  no one behind. If we think that we cannot do something, we will not be able to do it.  Conversely, If we  think that someone else believes that we can do it, we may try and try again. Those old clichés “if at first  we don’t succeed, try, try again” and “practice makes perfect” are based on the reality that success and  perfection happen when we have curiosity, resilience, and persistence.  Persistence is possible when we  are curious and resilient and when we have someone who believes that we are capable.  Thomas Edison is a role model for innovation through curiosity, resilience and persistence.  This may  surprise you, but Thomas Edison had no formal education.  His mother home‐schooled him and believed  that reading would help him follow his own interests.  Wikipedia suggests that Edison credited his  education to reading R.G. Parker’s “School of Natural Philosophy” and “The Cooper Union for the  Advancement of Science and Art.” His two favorite pastimes were reading and experimenting.  As a  young man, he worked at night so that he could study by day.   His first opportunity came from the father of a three year old boy whom Edison saved from walking in  front of a moving train.  The father, J.V. MacKenzie, was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph  operator, launching his scientific and entrepreneurial careers. On the train, he studied Qualitative  Analysis and conducted chemical experiments.  According to Wikipedia, he obtained the exclusive right  to sell newspapers on the train.  He hired help and launched his first venture, writing, publishing and  selling newspapers. Altogether, Edison founded 14 companies including General Electric (GE). The second man to support Edison was Franklin Leonard Pope, who allowed the poor young man to live  and work in the basement of his New Jersey home, while working by day at the Gold Indicator Company.  Eventually, Pope and Edison started their own company in 1869, working as electrical engineers and  inventors. It should be noted that Thomas Edison’s career was not without failures. He was the cause of a near  miss train accident.  Getting fired from the trains led him to moving to NY to work with Gold Indicator  Company. Spilling battery acid that dripped through the floor onto the desk of his boss below, led to his  being fired from Gold, which led to founding his own company with Pope in New Jersey.  Later, Edison created the first industrial research laboratory in New Jersey. I think that it’s important to  note that Edison’s workshop was a big open room with perimeter shelves filled with both mechanical  and natural parts and pieces. All of the scientists and engineers that he employed “played” with all of  the parts. Sounds like the first maker space!  Edison knew that he didn’t have all of the answers; that it  took a team.  Of course, in the US in the late 19th century, it was a team of all white men, as far as I can  tell.  Edison kept a quote over his desk (and in several other places in his laboratory building) by Sir Joshua  Reynolds, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” Thomas Edison was not the only one working on creating the incandescent light bulb with use of a  carbon filament. But Edison and his team were the first ones to discover that with carbonized bamboo  (inspired by a fishing trip) they could create a bulb that could last for 1200 hours.  The patent was filed  before the bamboo discovery, but they referred to the filament as carbonized cotton, wool, etc. So his  bamboo discovery was protected by patent.  This led to his work on providing reduced voltage direct  current energy to homes. Edison was also the originator of sound recording, although his initial concept  of tin foil over a cylinder didn’t work very well. He and his team worked hard to improve their own  technological breakthroughs.  Legend has it that it took over 1,000 tries to get the lightbulb right.    Visit the Dibner Institute of Science and Technology, now located in California, but formerly located at  MIT in Cambridge, to see a rare collection of (breakable) Edison lightbulbs. Thomas Edison achieved fame and fortune on a foundation of a love of learning, insatiable curiosity,  resilience from setbacks, having several mentors along the way, and persistence to keep trying until he  achieved working prototypes.  His success was not made through individual achievement alone, but with  a team of like‐minded, hardworking colleagues.  Curiosity, Resilience, Persistence and Teamwork were keys to Edison’s achievements.  If you have an  architecture or Interior Design Project that needs a team of curious, resilient, persistent and  collaborative people, please call us or click on the contact us button on our website.  We would love to  hear from you!​

Does Search Engine Optimization have you baffled?​

I’ve been asking new potential clients how they found us.  Interestingly, many have found us on Google. Also, they have each complained about the process. As hard as it is for the professionals to decide on which key words to put into our websites, it is equally hard for our potential clients to decide what to type into the search bar. Here are some of the things that they reportedly typed into the search bar: An owner of a vintage auction house located in Brimfield, MA, typed: “Retail Designer near me” and got no results, so he typed “retail designer in Mass” and he got us.  The other results were not for designers with any retail design experience. Now, much as I would like being the only retail designer in Massachusetts, we know that is not true. A homeowner in Cambridge typed “architect near me” and although we were not the only architect listed, we are located the closest and we were the first to respond to his inquiry. A manager of a mobile home development that is part of a national chain, typed in “full service commercial designer” and “office interior designer” and she found us even though we are located pretty far from her site. Who knew that full-service was hard to find? Another homeowner typed in “Architect in Cambridge, MA” and was shocked and overwhelmed by how many names came up. I forgot to ask how/why he selected us. One of our clients referred us to another potential client, who promptly lost the piece of paper with our name on it. When they typed in “Office designer in Greater Boston,” they hoped that our name would pop off the search results. They said that they went through 10 pages of results before giving up. Luckily, our client had told me of his referral, so we were able to connect the old fashioned way, by phone. Yesterday, a new member of an institutional client’s facilities group called me. I had designed a major renovation and addition there 20 years ago. Someone had given him our name, but he wasn’t confident that he had the name right, so he went directly to our website: He searched our portfolio looking for their twenty year old project, which he did indeed find, so he called to confirm that I did the project. He asked if we were interested in another small facelift in the only room untouched twenty years ago. An interesting part of the story is that last week a consultant told me to remove all of the old projects and only show the new and more modern ones, so that the portfolio would be easier to navigate. Had I listened to this advice, our client would not have been able to find their project on our site. Our client reported that although he was not part of the original facilities group, he was proud of what we did then, because people still love the space! Have you ever been frustrated by your searches online? Have you found it hard to get the right search results? What would you type in if you were looking for one of the finest full-service architecture and interior design firms around your area?Please let us know if you need to optimize your online searches, and learn more about how we can optimize your project results. Just click on the “contact us” button on our website. We would be delighted to talk by phone or facetime almost any time!​

Color and incarceration

In 1979 and 1980, I was a few years out of architecture school and had started to focus on interiors, which I thought affected the lives of the people who work...


Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc.

architecture and interiors

Cambridge Office:
1972 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
Office: 617.234.5300

Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc.

architecture and interiors

Leslie Saul & Associates, Inc.

architecture and interiors

architecture and interiors