2021 New England Design Hall of Fame Inductee Adolfo Perez

November 4, 2021

Text by Paula M. Bodah

A look at Adolfo Perez’s portfolio makes clear that the Newton, Massachusetts-based architect is fond of the clean lines and fresh perspectives of contemporary design. But you’d be wrong to see his work as a turning away from the shingles and gables of the classic New England vernacular.

“Contemporary design is less about a style and more about an attitude—an attitude that reflects the time and place in which we live and build,” he wrote in his submission to our panel of judges. “It is an attitude that honors the recent as well as the historical past.”

Perez, who was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, arrived at Harvard in the mid-1970s to focus on visual and environmental studies. “I didn’t know I was going to be an architect at the time,” he recalls, “but I always had the facility to draw and think in three dimensions.”

Curiosity led him to an introductory architecture course, where his fate was soon sealed. He went on to earn his master’s in architecture at Harvard in 1986.

After honing his craft at Boston-area firms, Perez hung out his own shingle. In the twenty-eight years since, his work has garnered numerous awards and has been featured in dozens of publications.

While he appreciates the  New England vernacular (in fact, he and his wife live in a center-entrance colonial-style house, albeit one they’ve modernized with an open floor plan and a contemporary addition), Perez insists that architecture doesn’t need to be constrained by the prevailing style. “If you look at a place like Italy that has thousands of years of history, they don’t think twice about building something contemporary,” he says. “I like to think that what I do is a continuation of what’s gone before.”