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Tsoi Kobus Design Celebrates 40th Anniversary, Adds George Takoudes as Principal

July 10, 2023
Rick Kobus and George Takoudes

TSOI KOBUS, the award-winning Boston-based architectural firm that specializes in healthcare, higher education, and science & technology sectors, is celebrating its 40th anniversary. With a long history of designing spaces for first-of-a-kind technology applications and an eye to the future, the firm recently added George Takoudes, AIA, to the senior leadership team. Takoudes brings over 25 years of experience and an award-winning portfolio of significant projects for high-profile clients, including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard University, Northeastern University, the University of Massachusetts, and Biogen. The Real Reporter (TRR) sat down with Takoudes and founding partner and senior principal Rick Kobus to discuss the move and what it means for the firm.

TRR: Why is Tsoi Kobus making the move to bring in George, and how does this play into the long-range vision for the firm?

Rick: We are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and want to maintain continuity for the firm as it goes forward. We’ve had the privilege of maintaining very long-standing relationships with many of our clients through the past four decades – many of whom have undergone leadership changes. Those institutions continue to thrive, and we want Tsoi Kobus to continue to thrive in the same way. So our goal for the long term is to renew our leadership as we move forward to make sure that we remain a strong design force and knowledge leaders for the clients that we serve.

TRR: So, is hiring George the first step of a succession plan?

Rick: The addition of a talented principal like George to the senior leadership team is in no way a “changing of the guard.” This is not a succession strategy. I will continue to lead the firm and remain in the position of senior principal for the foreseeable future.

George brings his own body of work, his own experience, and his own client relationships, and he’s also a great designer. Adding George to our senior leadership team increases our presence within the marketplace. This will allow us to attract the type of talent that will keep Tsoi Kobus at the forefront of the design landscape for academic, healthcare, and science and technology institutions.

It’s also important that we are able to expand our capabilities to continue to deliver principal-level attention to our clients. There are many firms where you see the principal at the interview and at the ribbon-cutting, but nothing in between. We believe in principal attention, and George has demonstrated that same belief with his existing clients, which is extremely complementary to our culture. This move allows us to serve more clients more effectively

TRR: What was the attraction for making the move to Tsoi Kobus, George?

George: My entire career has been in Boston, and I’ve always admired and respected the work of Tsoi Kobus and seen them as a strong firm in both the region and the nation. I think that having worked alongside Rick doing committee work for the BSA (Boston Society of Architects) and getting to know him as well as Ed (Tsoi, co-founding partner of the firm) provided a level of comfort. It’s a big move, but it made it easy for me.

This move makes sense for me in part because I have 25 years of experience with their major sectors I’m bringing to the leadership position in the best way possible, which is by aligning myself with the Tsoi Kobus values, culture, portfolio, and teams. I can jump right in and be an effective leader right away because of the understanding Rick and I have of each other, the way we work, and the way we communicate. This is really a two-step process. I think it fortifies what’s great about the firm already, and it also allows us to expand. For me, that’s the real power and excitement of joining Tsoi Kobus.

TRR: Anything else you would like to add about what drew you to George, Rick?

Rick: Talent is essential, of course, but being the right fit for our culture is something we take very seriously. George is both. I first became aware of George and his work at the BSA when I was on the board of directors and a committee chair. I got to know George, and he got to know Ed and me, and it speaks to a shared value of giving back to your profession. George demonstrated that commitment at a very early point in his career. He learned that from his mentor, Tom Payette (the founder of Payette Associates, who passed last November), a close friend and someone whom I admired a great deal. That idea of giving back to our community is one of our core values, which tells me that George really is on the same page with our firm. And, of course, his track record of engagement with his clients, which we already talked about. His relationships clearly demonstrate that we are like-minded about the importance of that.

TRR: It’s interesting to me that you were both drawn to human-centric architecture – hospitals, research labs, and academic institutions – throughout your careers. What do you think is the driver behind that?

George: I think we have these personal connections to these mission-driven institutions. We all have stories that link us to innovation, healthcare, and ways that we’re trying to better our society. That’s my story, and that’s one of the drivers for me. As an architect, I want to be part of that equation when it comes to designing the spaces where those inventions and innovations can happen, so that’s what motivates me and a big part of what draws me to Tsoi Kobus. They have the same motivation, and they’re dedicated.

Rick: I have some personal connections as well in terms of family members, but for me, it’s really more about the opportunity that, as architects, we can really influence the field of knowledge. Not just in terms of what we know and what we learn but also in terms of creating environments to discover new knowledge, put that knowledge to work, and impart that knowledge to the next generation – and all of our work does that. Whether we’re working with academic medical centers that have this tripartite mission of discovery, patient care, and teaching or with scientific institutions that are in the realm of discovery and application. All of these fields are so exciting to me because we’re constantly learning. Every day we learn something new, and it’s really wonderful to be on the cutting edge of new technology, new discoveries, new knowledge, and new ways of doing things, and I’ve learned that architecture plays a key role in supporting those activities.

TRR: I see from your portfolio that Tsoi Kobus does a lot of national and international work designing healthcare and life science facilities, but you have just the single Boston office. Why is that?

Rick: Well as I mentioned, culture is very important to us. I think one of the characteristics of a founder-driven firm is that there is a lot of strength in terms of understanding how the culture and the value system of the firm was created and how it translates to how we work. Our adherence to serving our clients, of really understanding their mission, and making sure that our efforts are advancing their mission through planning and design is crucial to what we do. It goes back to the principal-level attention that we provide, and having George in a senior leadership role will only strengthen that.

George: Rick and I have had the experience of working with major national design firms, and while they’re great at what they do, clients often don’t receive the same kind of personalized attention that a firm like ours can deliver. Our thought leadership teams are all under one roof, side by side, and it clearly brings the highest level of creativity, connection, and collaboration.

National Cancer Centre, Singapore