LLB Opens Worcester Office

August 29th, 2018

In July 2018, LLB Architects opened a new office in the historic Stevens Building, located at 40 Southbridge Street, in the heart of downtown Worcester, Massachusetts. LLB worked closely with the City of Worcester’s Business and Community Development Division to select a location embedded in the city center. LLB chose a building similar in character to its Pawtucket office, an industrial 19th-century brick building converted to modern professional office space.

LLB selected Worcester as the location for its new Massachusetts office based on the growing development activity within the City and surrounding areas. The firm is excited to be part of a community that values revitalizing historic buildings and improving urban environments, as it aligns with the firm’s work in adaptive re-use along with new construction that respects historic neighborhoods.

Worcester’s concentration of municipal, institutional, educational, and commercial clients offers many opportunities for LLB to contribute to the growth of the area. The firm also plans to contribute to the revitalization of Worcester through the development of a building similar to its Design Exchange headquarters in Pawtucket, RI. Currently, LLB is working with the Worcester Public Library. It served as the Project Architect of the recently completed Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center.

The history of LLB Architects is rich and varied since its founding in 1936 in Providence, Rhode Island as an engineering practice by Samuel Lerner, a structural engineer and professor at Brown University. In 2011, the firm moved to the Design Exchange in Pawtucket, a historic mill building which was purchased and developed by partners Christian J. Ladds and Kathleen A. Bartels. The firm currently has 10 registered architects and half of the employees are LEED accredited professionals. Serving clients in the municipal, institutional, educational, and commercial markets within New England, the firm focuses on designing buildings with sustainable practice and environmental consciousness; contributing to the contextual fabric of a place and creating a positive impact on the surrounding community.

The above photograph is of the Stevens Building, built in the mid-19th century, from its listing on National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Franklin Public Library

August 22nd, 2018

The Franklin Public Library, established in 1790, is widely considered to be the nation’s first public library. The library collection was started with the donation of 116 books by Benjamin Franklin.
The original library was built in 1904 and expanded in 1989. LLB Architects designed the 6,000 sf addition, restored and renovated the existing 22,000 sf structure. LLB worked closely with the library, town and community to develop a solution that would meet their goals. The addition increases the capacity of the general stacks, provides much needed meeting and community rooms, enlarges the size of the children’s room, and creates a young adult room. It also updates the entire building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and inserts a complete new sprinkler system.

During the course of construction, the town added to the scope of the project by committing to additional extensive renovations and upgrades to the original building, tel/data systems, and original roof, resulting in significant, but value added, Change Orders.

The renovation included the preservation of Memorial Hall, which contains the faux bronze plaque commemorating the dedication in 1904, the restoration of the original reading room with its priceless murals, and adds a custom designed climate controlled exhibition case for the original books donated by Benjamin Franklin.

LLB Presents at ACUHO-i Living-Learning Conference

October 21st, 2015

LLB, along with our partners on URI’s Hillside Hall, presented Making Lasting Connections through Strategic Residential Planning: Lessons Learned from the University of Rhode Island’s Hillside Hall at the ACUHO-i Living-Learning Programs Conference last week in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Chris Ladds was joined by Jordan Gatewood from Mackey Mitchell Architects and Chip Yensen, former Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs at URI (currently with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte). Speaking to a full-house of university housing administrators, architects, and other industry professionals, the discussion focused on how the strategic planning of URI’s Hillside Hall served as a model for living-learning communities on campus and how other colleges and universities could learn from the URI model. The team discussed URI’s Residential Master Plan and strategic planning goals, planning and design of the Hillside Hall Complex as it related to site location and orientation and space allocation and layout, and how to develop a similar building program. The session was a great success in exploring the exciting opportunities and complex challenges facing the live/learn community today. Thanks to all that came out to meet our panel and participate in the discussion.

The Design Exchange Wins a 2015 Grow Smart RI Award

May 29th, 2015


Grow Smart RI is recognizing The Design Exchange with an “Outstanding Smart Growth Projects” award. The distinction was presented at the 2015 Smart Growth Awards at The Ballroom at the ProvidenceG on May 21.

“Each year, passionate, creative, and resourceful Rhode Islanders show us the way to tap our state’s full potential through projects, plans, and policies that play to Rhode Island’s strengths and generate enduring economic benefits—both statewide and in specific neighborhoods,” stated Grow Smart RI’s executive director Scott Wolf about the celebration, now in its fourth year.

The Design Exchange—a new collaborative work community in downtown Pawtucket—is located in a historic, four-story mill that was once part of the Rhode Island Cardboard Company complex. Constructed in 1880, the restored building is now occupied by eight creative businesses including graphic, industrial, and interior designers, photographers, textile designers, and engineers—vibrancy that has been drawing visitors and economic activity to Pawtucket’s arts district.

Lerner Ladds Bartels (LLB) Architects, which also operates out of The Design Exchange, purchased the building in 2010. “At the time, we had been searching for a building space to own for about ten years,” explained LLB Architects principal Kathleen Bartels, who indicated that the company’s previous space—a Victorian home in Eastside Providence—didn’t quite lend itself well to collaboration. “We were looking for an open floor plan.”

Bartels and her Partner Chris Ladds developed and renovated the historic mill, which previously sat vacant for over 30 years. “We spent a lot of time getting the economic model to work and ensuring that it was a smart investment,” stated Bartels, who added that state and historical tax credits significantly contributed to the project’s economic feasibility.

“There was a lot of collaboration to get the project financed,” she continued. “The building’s previous owner had secured and sold us the rights to the tax credits, which we used for rehab work. We also worked with Pawtucket Business Development Corporation and Bank RI to bridge the remaining gap in funding.”

The Design Exchange, a live/work community, was a vision that was dreamt by the building’s previous owner, according to Bartels. “We wanted businesses with artistic and creative focuses.”

Bartels, a Coventry native, mentioned that The Design Exchange shares a similar mission and philosophy with Grow Smart RI. “While it is challenging, it is very rewarding to fix the broken environment and transform communities into great places to live and work.” She also indicates that smart growth is a concept that is close to the architectural philosophy of her firm. “It’s all about repurposing, adaptive reuse, and being economical with the land and our historic buildings.”

Established in 1998, Grow Smart RI has become the leading advocate for sustainable economic growth, revitalization, and improved quality of place in the state’s urban, suburban, and rural communities.

“It’s very important to take a look at the building stock in Rhode Island,” added Bartels. “Rhode Island’s buildings are some of our state’s most unique and precious assets, and we need to preserve and capitalize on these strengths as much as possible.”

The Design Exchange’s nomination to receive the recognition was submitted by the Pawtucket Foundation, recipient of this year’s “Outstanding Smart Growth Leaders” award.

View Grow Smart RI’s celebration of the Design Exchange here.




Bryant University’s Physician Assistant Learning Center Holds Ribbon Cutting

May 11th, 2015


April 8, 2015 – Bryant University’s new Physician Assistant Learning Center held its Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening ceremony on March 2nd in the facility. The event featured speeches from Bryant’s President Ronald K. Machtley (center) and Jay Amrien (3rd from left) the Director of the Physician Assistant Program. Chris Ladds (4th from right), Kathy Bartels, and Jonathan Taylor attended the event on LLB’s behalf to celebrate the opening.

LLB designed the space working with Lavalle Brensinger Architects, specialists in healthcare design, to accommodate the programs unique needs. Working collaboratively with the university to program, plan the building that includes simulation laboratories, lecture classrooms, and office for faculty and staff.

Hillside Hall at University of Rhode Island

March 10th, 2015

Acting as a gateway to the Hillside District, the new $42 million, 429-bed Hillside Hall by LLB Architects is a dynamic new model for residential housing at the University of Rhode Island. The 120,000 square-foot structure remains permeable at the ground level to enhance the cross–campus ties and pedestrian inter-connectivity while maintaining universal accessibility. Two bar-shaped wings are sited along the sloping hillside and connected by a glass bridge which houses stacked sky lounges and a monumental circulation stair. Light floods the interior and is animated with a rhythmic pattern of colored glass, creating a diverse array of shadows that constantly change.

The organizing principle of the design merges the two primary grids of the campus plan that are thoughtfully woven together to create unique cantilevers, ledges, and intersections. The two residential wings are cranked and cracked open to allow natural light into the double-loaded corridor which terminate with transparent glazing. These moments at the grid intersections become group and collaborative study lounges for the freshmen and sophomore student residents in pharmacy, nursing, and international programs, part of a Living and Learning Community. The configuration of bedroom clusters around these lounges promotes a sense of identity and community within the larger complex, reinforcing the social fabric of Hillside Hall within the residential district.

The most effective and economical methods to achieve a green building comes from a holistic approach to sustainability. LLB Architects integrated solar hot water system, exterior sun shading and sun screens, operable windows for maximized natural ventilation, light reflecting roofing materials with demonstration green roof, a rigorously designed and engineered building envelope with maximum insulation and materials chosen for high recycled content obtained regionally. All uphill water is captured in a series of rain gardens that collect and filter water through a sequence of above ground water retention basins. Permeable pavers, reflective site materials, and extensive new site plantings all contribute to a truly sustainable landscape. Certified as LEED Gold, the project set new standards for environmentally friendly residence hall construction.

This project was done in association with associate architect Mackey Mitchell Architects. Site plan and landscape design by Carol R. Johnson Associates. Photography by Paul Burk Photography and Warren Jagger Photography.

RISD Apparel Design Department

February 16th, 2015

LLB Architects worked with Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) on the study, design, and renovation of a downtown Providence turn-of-the-century building to serve as the new home for their Apparel Design Department.

The existing office building was converted into large, well-lit, open, and technologically advanced studio spaces and classrooms which enhance and promote the hands-on learning environment of the department.

A flexible multi-purpose space is used as separate classrooms as well as a single large studio space to hold departmental semester critiques by moving tackable and mirrored portable wall partitions. Large glazed openings into the studios and display cases in the corridors exhibit the students’ progress and projects throughout the school year. A welcoming faculty suite with collaborative office/workspace and a conference room greets visitors as they arrive in the building as a space to house the high-level fashion and designer materials that teachers often share with current and prospective students.

Click the link below to see RISD’s Film “Welcome Home” celebrating the new facility:


Harvard Business School Knowledge and Library Services

June 25th, 2014

At Harvard Business School, the historic Baker Library’s Department of Knowledge and Library Services needed a space to meet their growth and changing business model. The department employs transient professionals as well as full time staff who juggle a combination of contemplative and collaborative workloads. LLB designed the space within Baker Library for their department conscientious of their need for both permanent and flexible spaces. The only dividing walls were envisioned as glass curtains with enlivened obscuring graphics, loosely designating zones of activities without imposing the bulk of typical plaster walls. Workstation wall heights were designed as low and permeable, featuring solid zones where privacy was most needed. Workstation size was designed as minimal, offering nearby closeting for background binders and bulk of more permanent employees. Clusters of workstations were served by adjacent break out collaborative zones accommodating groups of 2-5 personnel. These zones featured mobile furnishings and writing and posting wall space. Large meetings were accommodated in a new open conference and meeting zone that was furnished specifically to their webinar meeting style. The solution broke down the traditional boundaries of the cubicle and integrated collaborative zones throughout to give this group infinite flexibility.

LLB Architects

February 19th, 2013

LLB Architects, formerly Lerner Ladds + Bartels, is a leader in designing timeless environments that allow people to thrive. The architectural practice is built upon the core values of care for the environment, communities and clients. A multi-disciplinary firm, LLB has a wide portfolio of work for both public and private clients. Since its founding in 1936, LLB’s success has been rooted in its ability to collaborate, explore and (re-)invent using an approach that integrates people and technology. Learn more…

We are always looking for talented designers and architects! Learn more about career opportunities and how to join our team.

Walpole Public Library

August 1st, 2012

In the historic context of New England, the Walpole Public Library is a rare new building sited adjacent to the town hall and historic Blackburn Hall and just steps away from downtown. LLB Architects had been working with the Walpole community since 2007 when we were asked to re-envision and improve upon the previous library design, accepted for a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. After a long, twenty-year process and funding approval by a slim margin, the community of Walpole can be proud of their new library.

The design of the new 32,000 sf building uses traditional architectural textures, colors, and fundamentals of traditional architecture to respond to the New England context. The library program is organized around four masses encased in fiber cement panels which anchor the building’s entries. In between them, generous circulation paths, a sculptural staircase, and skylights create a feeling of openness and lightness. The difference in treatment and fenestration on each side of the library appropriately responds to its site orientation and the environmental effects on them.

On the interior, service desks for circulation, reference, and the children’s area are centrally located for the highest visibility and security with the minimum number of staff. There are areas dedicated for young children, which includes a program room for community events; young adults, with computers and comfortable seating for lounging; and patrons looking for new books and media, or reference materials, or any of the 110,000 items (and counting) in the library’s collection. One of the areas in the library that has grown in popularity is the quiet study rooms, designed with floor to ceiling glass, which allow for a sense of privacy and territory, but a sense of security as well.

The building received LEED Gold certification and makes use of both passive sustainable strategies as well as active strategies. The incorporation of a green roof over the one-story wing creates a better insulated space for the program area. Natural light floods the interior spaces through the surrounding glazing and skylights and reduces the need for artificial lighting. The use of a photovoltaic panel system has assisted in generating over 5% of the building’s utility features onsite, as well reducing the baseline energy use by nearly 25%. A rain garden at the entry of the building creates a small stream of rainwater from the roof to feed native plantings and remain within onsite in a retention pond. To further promote sustainable design, significant efforts were made to use both local and high-recycled content materials.

The library’s past location was built in 1903 thanks to a grant from Andrew Carnegie, land donation by Walpole natives, and town money. Like then, Walpole’s new library, with a project budget of $11.2 million, has been made possible by various contributions including a generous grant from the MBLC, charitable donations from the community, and optimism from the taxpayers of Walpole. Since its dedication in April 2012, the Walpole Public Library has seen circulation levels dramatically increase and continues to welcome patrons offering endearing compliments.

Photography by Bruce T. Martin Photography