James G. Alexander Wins Massachusetts Historical Commission 2019 Individual Lifetime Achievement Award!


PRESS RELEASE | Published in North End Waterfront, High Profile, Penn State College of Arts and Architecture and New England Real Estate Journal


Award to Honor Distinguished Champion of Preservation

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – June 6, 2019 – Finegold Alexander Architects is pleased to announce that James G. Alexander, FAIA, LEED AP, Senior Principal, Finegold Alexander Architects, is the recipient of the Massachusetts Historical Commission 2019 Individual Lifetime Achievement Award. The Award is to be presented at ceremony on June 6, 2019. Alexander is a Senior Principal of Finegold Alexander Architects whose 50-year career has influenced the historic preservation community in myriad ways.

“Jim’s impeccable ability to discern what should be preserved and that which can be adapted provides the maximum benefit to clients, agencies, and the community. His role has been pivotal in saving and adapting some of the Commonwealth’s most significant historic structures,” explains Tony Hsiao, Director of Design at Finegold Alexander. “Jim’s passion and leadership for preservation has positioned Finegold Alexander Architects as one of the region’s leading design firms focusing on historic preservation and adaptive use.”

Among Alexander’s numerous contributions to preservation movement projects are The Ellis Island National Monument, Boston’s Old City Hall, Charlestown Navy Yard, University of Massachusetts Old Chapel, and many libraries, schools, and historic buildings. Many of Jim’s projects have proven to be anchor projects that led to the revitalization of neighborhoods that were neglected or abandoned such as the Newburyport Downtown Master Plan, 226 Causeway Mixed Use Development in Boston’s Bulfinch Triangle, 2 Clarendon Square and Penny Savings Bank Residences both in Boston’s South End, the Cable Mill Residences in Williamstown, and the Holyoke Public Library, among many others.

“I am honored to receive this award and appreciate the recognition,” said Alexander. “I am hopeful that the next generation of architects and preservationists will bring the work we have done in the re-use of treasured buildings further, with a continued focus on sustainable design. Our firm’s legacy of adaptive use and preservation is something I am most proud of, and I have to credit my predecessors, Tim Anderson and George Notter, as well as our current team of skilled architects who make it all happen.”

Alexander has been responsible for a wide range of projects including the design of new structures, renovations, restorations and additions to historic buildings, and urban revitalization planning. Under his leadership at Finegold Alexander, the firm has become nationally recognized for historic preservation, adaptive use, and urban revitalization projects that have preserved neighborhoods and important buildings throughout the Commonwealth and nationally.

In addition to his 50-years as a preservation advocate and architect, Alexander continues to serve as a mentor, thesis-advisor, and guest critic to many young architects. Over the years he has opened the firm to school and youth programs to introduce young people to architecture, design and preservation.

Alexander has also been a lifelong advocate for preservation through his service as board member and/or president of various preservation groups and commissions including Preservation Massachusetts, Boston Preservation Alliance, Boston Landmarks Commission, and The South End Historic District.

Early Years, Background

Alexander pursued architectural studies and graduated from Pennsylvania State University, including continuing his architectural studies at the Architecture Association in London. As a youth Jim loved to draw buildings in his neighborhood, and by the time he was a student pursuing architectural and architectural history studies at Pennsylvania State University, his role as advocate was born when he circulated student petitions pressing for improvement in the caliber of the University’s architecture. After graduation and early practice experience in Philadelphia, Jim joined Boston’s Anderson Notter Architects in July 1969.

Under the tutelage of noted preservationist Tim Anderson, he was rapidly working at the forefront of groundbreaking adaptive use projects, most notably the conversion of Boston’s Old City Hall into office and retail space. The project was precedent-setting and garnered the AIA National Honor Award for Extended Use, the first award conferred for adaptive use. This project was followed by the restoration and conversion of Ellis Island into a National Monument and Museum which was then the largest preservation project in the United States. These experiences along with witnessing the negative impact of the 1960s urban renewal projects — which rapidly demolished whole neighborhoods — inspired his passion and advocacy for preservation and adaptive use.

About The Massachusetts Historical Commission And Award

The continuing presence of historic properties in Massachusetts immeasurably enhances the quality of our lives; they help to establish our sense of place and to define the very character of our communities. To meet the challenge of preserving this important heritage, the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) was established by the legislature in 1963 to identify, evaluate, and protect important historical and archaeological assets of the Commonwealth.

In recognition of the challenge of preserving our national legacy, the MHC founded the Preservation Awards program. Awards are presented annually to preservation projects or individuals that have displayed an outstanding commitment to historic preservation in Massachusetts. To qualify for the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award the individual must have 20 or more years of exemplary service in historic preservation. Previous recipients include Minxie and James Fannin, Andrea Gilmore, Dr. Adelaide Cromwell, Wesley Ward among others.

About Finegold Alexander Architects

Finegold Alexander Architects is a design collective focused on creating architecture for public, private and mission driven organizations. Our projects, whether they be new construction or renovations, are integrated into their physical, cultural and environmental contexts. We are passionate about working across disciplines, project types and scales to arrive at fresh solutions. We believe that our future and that of the planet depends on sustainable, interdisciplinary, and collaborative achievements.

We Listen, Our Buildings Speak.