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North Shore native Mark Pelletier never found himself adrift. Growing up in Salem, he shadowed his father during work days on construction sites and was hooked. As he matured, his entry into the world of architecture was inevitable.
Since joining Harvard-based Maugel DeStefano Architects eight years ago, Pelletier advanced to the top, first being tapped as a principal by founder Brent Maugel in 2018, then becoming a majority shareholder along with two fellow principals Jonathan Cocker and Mike Kunz in 2022, when Maugel retired.
Named 2023 Architectural Firm of the Year by the Boston Real Estate Times in August, Maugel DeStefano is a major force behind residential and commercial construction projects throughout Central Massachusetts and beyond. Serving industries from the life sciences, to robotics and advanced manufacturing and real estate, the 30-year-old firm is always looking to innovate and advocate for clients, Pelletier said.
Whether it’s the planned Franklin Lofts in downtown Worcester near Union Station, a biotech lab in Central Mass., or behavioral health center in Framingham, Pelletier said a building should be an experience and be memorable. “Like a handshake,” he said.
How did you land in this field?
I grew up in Salem, and I had a dad in the construction industry. I would go to a lot of job sites with my dad and was amazed at how things were put together. I was pretty artistic, and in high school I worked for a small construction company as a gopher. I’ve worked on a job site since I was 14. I went to Wentworth Institute of Technology. I liked that it was hands-on. I never had any doubt about what I wanted to do.
Is being an architect as glamorous as it seems?
Everyone on TV is an architect! It comes with a lot of ups and downs, but mostly ups. This career has really been good to me, I like to give back as much as I can. One of the things I love doing is having young interns in the office meet with people in the company to share their journey to becoming an architect. Some of our interns have become employees.
Is it difficult to hire young architects?
The climate has changed, and construction is moving along at a rapid pace. It gives designers the opportunity to move to their dream jobs. Our founder, Brent Maugel, always focused on having the right people on the bus. The people we have, we love every one of them, and we try to make sure we keep them.
What makes working in Central Mass. unique?
The opportunities are more broad. For example, when Cambridge became so overwhelmed with the life science market, the suburbs became the release from that stress. We found ourselves evaluating buildings for lab conversions. You really had to know what you were doing because not every building can be converted.
The Central Massachusetts market is calling for housing, so the multifamily projects are going where there’s available land. Any suburb on the MBTA line has incredible leverage for development.
When Mike, John, and I took over the company, we had a pretty strong funnel of activity, and it continues to be pretty strong. Almost every market sector is continuing to move. We’ve noticed a little slow-down in the sciences, but that’s only natural because during COVID, there was so much money pushed into the sciences. It didn’t really stop, it just plateaued.
What is your favorite type of project?
I like anything with a design challenge; it can be a residential project or a commercial project. If it’s a unique challenge that isn’t easily solved, that’s kind of where I like to live.
What is key to a successful leadership transition?
What an incredible responsibility. We have to look at the legacy of our founder. We are very dedicated to maintaining that leadership and continuing that legacy. We’re client advocates first and foremost. Our vision for the future should be bold and innovative, but we’re building upon that legacy. With new leaders in play, we realize we’re a young firm with a lot of opportunity. We’re looking at things like artificial intelligence.
What is next for Maugel DeStefano?
One of the questions we’re always trying to answer is, “What’s the next big market sector going to be?” I don’t know if we have the answer to that.
This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Correspondent Emily Micucci.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Mark Pelletier became a principal of Maugel DeStefano in the 2019 merger that created the current version of the architectural firm. Pelletier's promotion was a year prior to the merger.
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