Chris Scovel
MASS Design Group
Boston, MA
Talk Title
Beyond the Building: A Model of Architecture Serving Society
Monday, April 08, 2019
6:00 pm
121 Center Street
Portland, ME 04101

MASS Design Group began in 2008 as an idea for a different way of practice by a group of students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Initially formed by Ryan Leidner, Alda Ly, Michael Murphy, Alan Ricks, David Saladik and Marika Shioiri-Clark, it grew to include many colleagues and contributors who worked together to design and build the Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda, a project of Partners in Health and the Rwandan Ministry of Health.

GHESKIO Tuberculosis Hospital
GHESKIO Tuberculosis Hospital (Iwan Baan)

Chris joined MASS in 2011 and has worked on multiple projects in East and West Africa, India, Haiti, and the United States. He has lead design teams for new large hospital complexes, new hospital buildings, and renovations. He has worked closely with MASS’s Haiti team, advising on the construction of the completed GHESKIO CTC and TB Hospital.

Additionally, Chris deeply values his role as an occasional mentor to a broad range of projects and individuals at MASS. He recently worked closely with and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on a project to design public toilets for the developing world.

Butaro Doctors’ Housing
Butaro Doctors’ Housing (Iwan Baan)

Prior to MASS, Chris worked as an architect in Boston providing design, project management, and construction administration expertise on multiple institutional projects, which included libraries, courthouses, and a wide variety of academic buildings. Chris is a registered and LEED certified architect. He received a Master in Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Boston Healthcare for the Homeless
Boston Healthcare for the Homeless (MASS Design Group)


What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?
Oliver Sacks’ autobiography is a good read. Who knew that behind that highly articulate, soft English voice lay a leather-clad, gay biker who worked out at Los-Angeles’ muscle beach?

Where is the farthest place you have traveled?
200 miles north of Yellow Knife in the North-West Territories, or perhaps the Brooks Range in Alaska, both of which involved float planes and long trips in the wilderness, without so much as a footprint to indicate a single person had ever passed that way before.

How many times have you been to Maine?
I’m from AWAY, but I’ve spent, and continue to spend, much of my life in Maine: On Georgetown Island’s Sagadahoc Bay – hang a right at the Dairy Queen on the north end of the Bath bridge – where branches of my grandmother’s family have lived, worked and summered for generations; in Baxter State Park where I camped and hiked as a kid with my dad; in Hanover on the east end of the Mahoosucs where my own family now has a lake cottage and spends all the time we can; and even in Portland occasionally, whether I am invited or not.

Outside of your own work, what is your strongest architectural experience?
When diving one’s primary frame of reference is depth, the vertical Z-axis. Cave diving is the most intensive, three-dimensional spatial experience I have had since my first, virgin trips as an architecture student to see the Great Works – the Casa del Fascio, the Salk Center, etc. Swimming underground between stalagmites and stalactites is mind-blowing, psychedelic, and completely legal.