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MARY-ANN AGRESTI, AIA, Architect / Artist / Educator

Mary-Ann is the principal architect and owner of The Design Initiative, Inc founded in 1996 in Boston’s Fort Point Channel and re-located to the Hyannis Main Street East end neighborhood in 2008. She is responsible for the design, programming and management of numerous architecture projects, with a particular focus on academic and public buildings and the development of learning environments. The Design Initiative focuses on the design of spaces for learning, working and gathering. For over 25 years she has been renovating, planning, selecting materials and designing furnishings for buildings from Colorado to Kuwait. She has recently been a consultant for the award-winning Ministry of Education in Kuwait, the Chao Center for Executive Education at Harvard Business School and the renovation of Alumni Hall at University of Massachusetts Lowell. Read more>

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Mary-Ann has been a lecturer of Interior Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, since 2007, focusing on building materials exploration and integrated design process. In addition to teaching foundation and elective studios, her class, “Building Materials Exploration,” delves into the story of building materials, with a focus on the tangible and intangible qualities of the products architects and designers use to create. Making sustainable choices as an investment in placemaking is key to her teaching and practice philosophy.
 

Previous to founding The Design Initiative, Inc Ms Agresti worked with the Studio of Cristiano Toraldo di Francia in Florence, Italy on an intra-city bus terminal located in Florence, Italy. She was also a member of the architectural design team with Stull and Lee for the Zakim Bridge, a critical part of the Central Artery Tunnel project in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Her commitment to integrated design leads her to design furniture specific to the needs of her clients. Several designs for reading carrels, study lamps and study tables have been produced by The Design Initiative. Ms. Agresti has designed a custom reading chair, carrels and fixtures for Choate Rosemary Hall, which have been contracted for mass production, as well as custom carrels for Colorado State University, chairs for Yale and a suite of furniture for MIT’s Baker House and Simmons Hall. Dedicated to an interdisciplinary architectural profession, she continues to study material and design related fields to better inform her practice. She has studied regularly at the Haystack School in metals and wood and continues to practice printmaking from her letterpress studio in Boston.  Her interest in education has developed into a commitment to teaching and mentoring.  From 1997-2000, Ms. Agresti was a Professor of Visual Studies at Pine Manor College. She has taught at Citizen’s Schools, an after school urban mentoring program and continues to regularly serve as a juror at architectural programs such as MIT, Boston Architectural Center, Rhode Island School of Design, and The University of Pennsylvania. On the Cape, where her studio is currently located, Mary-Ann, regularly teaches youth in local schools about sustainability and the design process, and works closely with small business owners and institutions to create resourceful and sustainable architectural and planning solutions, that reflect her community’s goals of responsible growth.

Extending her architecture to the space between interior and exterior, Mary-Ann has recently completed several public art installations on Cape Cod, focusing on the wonder of place-making and storytelling through material and form. Two new pieces were installed in the fall of 2019 along Hyannis Harbor as part of the Discovery Art Walk. 

Mary-Ann has a BFA from Syracuse University in Editorial Design and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania.

As principal, Ms. Agresti has been the primary architect in numerous commercial and private projects, including: v

Feasibility study for the Sturgis Charter School classroom renovation, 441 Main Street, Hyannis MAClassroom Testing Center Renovation, Sturgis Charter School, 529 Main St, Hyannis MA$1.8 million renovation of the historic Georgian Choate Rosemary Hall Andrew Mellon LibraryAnnual classroom and accessibility modification for the Sturgis Charter School west campusCommunity Park and Gardens, 725 Main St Hyannis, MA, Brownfield Restoration Schematic Design

Ms. Agresti has been a Consultant for the following projects: v

The Massachusetts State House Master Plan, Space Planning Evaluation + Standards

University of Massachusetts Lowell, Alumni Hall
The Massachusetts State House Master Plan, Space Planning Evaluation + Standards

Chao Center for Executive Learning, Harvard Business School

College of Business, Kuwait University, Shadadiyah Campus

Boston University School of Management, Renovation

College of Engineering and Petroleum, Kuwait University

MIT Brain and Cognitive Research Center

MIT Simmons Hall

MIT Baker House Residential Hall

MIT Koch Cancer Research Center

Scientific Center of Kuwait Expansion, Kuwait City Kuwait

Science Museum and Geo-Climate Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Choate Rosemary Hall, Andrew Mellon Library, Renovation

Her previous professional experience includes working with the Studio of Cristiano Toraldo di Francia in Florence, Italy on an intra-city bus terminal located in Florence, Italy. She was also a member of the architectural team for the Zakim Bridge, a critical part of the Central Artery Tunnel project in Boston, Massachusetts.