Forty years ago, OLSON LEWIS + Architects began in founding partner John Olson’s living room. From sketching in his renovated carriage home to working as one of the region’s top architecture firms, Olson and his partners have come a long way—and are excited to celebrate four decades this year.
OLSON LEWIS + Architects (OL+) focuses on four pillars of work: residential, hospitality, education, and life sciences. They offer architecture, planning, and interior design services, and leverage their expertise to fit any client’s needs. They can offer an entire end-to-end solution for a huge project, complete with the capital campaign. Or, they can offer their services a la carte, if a client just needs a rendering or some interior space planning.
OL+ is the mastermind behind many North Shore landmarks, like the Beauport Hotel, the Newburyport Harbormaster, the Pingree School, Shore Country Day School, the Golf Club at Turner Hill, the Ipswich YMCA, the Manchester Yacht Club, and the Essex Country Club.
After the COVID-19 pandemic postponed celebrations in 2020, OL+ celebrates their anniversary this year by highlighting milestones in the company’s history and the staff that makes it all possible.
Olson founded the firm in 1980 with Randy Lewis, who passed away in 2017. After successfully leading the firm for many years, Olson takes on the title of ‘founding partner and advisor’ and remains an active presence at the office. The office’s new leadership team will allow Olson to split his time between architecture projects and playing a round on the golf course.
“Designs start by listening and reflecting before taking shape as sketches on paper,” says Olson, tapping his ear. After more than 40 years as an architect, Olson has a keen sense for problem solving. He understands that a successful project satisfies his client and also helps the surrounding community.
One of the award-winning highlights of his career is the Beauport Hotel. This coastal project demanded all his know-how: integrating a high-profile seaside hotel into a historically significant and environmentally sensitive setting. If you visit the hotel one evening, you may find Olson in the restaurant enjoying the space with family and friends.
Randy Lewis brought a lively style to the firm with his musical and artistic background, and introduced OL+ to life sciences and lab design through his experience in mechanical engineering. He worked on many of the firm’s life sciences projects, like Cubist Pharmaceuticals and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Art Dioli joined the firm in 1984, and is currently a partner at OL+ and a longtime resident of Ipswich. He focuses on residential projects, understanding how each home must provide a unique solution for the family within. He works closely with homeowners to find solutions that address their particular needs. He’s hands-on, too, known to climb a tree or head out on a boat to discover a site’s views and special features. He utilizes his skills, experiences, and drive to deliver his clients exactly what they’re looking for. “That’s why you hire an architect,” he says.
One of his career highlights is his family’s own home on Great Neck in Ipswich. The simple, intimate cottage sits on a tidy parcel of land where the river runs into the sea, and was built on the footprint of a previous cottage. The home is small but impactful, full of modern amenities and beautiful details. Dioli made sure to highlight the sunset view on the home’s west side, catching and refracting the evening light inside and out.
Partner Chris Doktor joined the firm in 1993 and has worked on many of the firm’s education projects, including independent schools on the Northshore such as Brookwood, Pingree, and Shore Country Day School. His care and commitment to addressing the concerns of everyone who will be using the facilities have helped create schools that run smoothly and focus on teaching. These exceptional learning institutions draw new residents to the area to educate their children.
Chris has also, at times, been hired to design homes for some of these families new to the Northshore.
Principle Michele Brooks, an interior designer and lab planner, joined the firm in 2000 and worked closely with Randy in the life sciences sector. During the pandemic she has been working with companies such as Translate Bio and Enanta Pharmaceuticals, both of whom are actively pursuing scientific answers to thwart COVID 19. These and other Life Science projects have been looking to reimagine the workplace – both in the corporate setting and in homes as well, especially as many of the employees have been working remotely.
And the most recent leadership hire, John Harden, joined OL+ in 2020 as a new partner. Rather than focusing on a particular project type, Harden prefers to work with a wide breadth of clients, including multi-family housing, corporate offices, religious institutions, schools and residential homes. Deeply rooted in this New England ‘town by the sea,’ Harden understands that successful projects are good neighbors and support the larger community.
The OL+ leadership team is rounded out by Associate Steve Scapicchio and Senior Associate Seth Morrissey. The bedrock of the firm are its people, a hand selected and talented group who each bring their expertise to work together collectively in a small, family-friendly workplace.
The professionals at OL+ consider themselves lucky to have stayed busy throughout the pandemic, as the architecture industry boomed. They look forward to the years ahead following these big changes in the company, and will continue to serve the North Shore community for generations to come.
For more information, visit olsonlewis.com.
40 YEAR TIMELINE
40 YEARS OF BEAUTIFUL PLACES
CROSSWATER (Arts home)
BEAUPORT HOTEL GLOUCESTER
TURNER HILL GOLF CLUB
2021 BEST SCHOOLS IN ESSEX COUNTY (Pingree School / Shore Country Day School / Brookwood School)
SHORE COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL