It all goes back to Leazar Hall for Eric Robinson and Kevin Deabler. It was there that the friends-turned-business-partners met on their first day of class at NC State. And more than 20 years later, the pair continues to work side by side, leaving their imprint on Boston neighborhoods at RODE Architects, the firm they founded in 2005.
“We’re raising our families in these neighborhoods that we’re actually doing this work in,” Deabler said in a recent talk the two gave on campus with College of Design students. “We’re forming the city that our kids are going to grow up in, and there’s something pretty authentic about that.”
PHOTO: From left to right, Kevin Deabler, Roger Clark and Eric Robinson
Robinson and Deabler both graduated from NC State with design degrees in the mid-1990s and eventually used parts of both of their names to arrive at RODE as the moniker. They have taken on a variety of projects in the 12 years since they founded their firm, from Harvard Art Museums to restaurants and multi-family residences. But working in Boston has its challenges. The crooked, winding roads and lack of a consistent grid system result in oddly shaped plots of land, which can make it an architecturally challenging city.
Those challenges can be overcome, Robinson and Deabler said, by taking a holistic approach to their projects. “We do work very hard to do a rigorous assessment of the sites and sort of looking at everything — solar orientation, proximity to whatever it might be,” Robinson said.
Boston’s rich history also means some pushback from community members who fear the modern, paneled designs are too futuristic for the nearly 400-year-old city. But for Robinson and Deabler, embedding themselves in their neighborhood makes a difference. “I think a lot of [it] is explaining how we see this as architects blending into the neighborhood, even though it might be adjacent to some hundred-year-old brick building,” Robinson said. “We want buildings to reflect what it is today, not what it looked like a hundred years ago.”
Robinson and Deabler still keep in touch with their Wolfpack roots, attending football games at Boston College and getting together with fellow alumni. And when a former Wolfpack quarterback was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2016, they were excited to show their support around town.
“I think we’re the only two people in Boston with Jacoby Brissett jerseys,” Deabler said. “We had them custom-made.”
Original Article by Megan Ellisor can be read in the NC State Alumni News here.