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BAC Celebrates 2016 Commencement

Grads receive inspiring send-off as they embark on next chapters

BAC Class of 2016; Photo by Molly Chase

The Boston Architectural College celebrated its 2016 Commencement on Friday, May 20, at Old South Church in Copley Square. The College graduated 159 students in the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, and design studies.

In keeping with BAC tradition, a jazz band accompanied the graduates, special guests, and members of the Board of Trustees in a procession through Boston's historic Back Bay. Under a clear and sunny sky, they all walked in full regalia from the BAC's iconic building on Newbury Street to Copley Square's Old South Church. Graduates excitedly high-fived and waved to bystanders as they proudly made their way to the ceremony, where their friends and families were waiting.

"So this is it... your final journey through the BAC. Courses, portfolio reviews, practice assessments, and capstone projects are all behind you," BAC President Glen S. LeRoy said as he opened the commencement ceremony. "For the future, you should continue what has gotten you to this point. Follow your dreams, have faith in your own abilities, and care well for those around you."

Rita Doummar, Master of Architecture, was awarded Valedictorian of the Master's Program and Hannah Smith, Bachelor of Interior Architecture, was awarded Valedictorian of the Bachelor's Program. Both Rita and Hannah had the opportunity to address the crowd and reflect on their unique and meaningful BAC educations.

Rita concluded her speech with some lighthearted advice to her fellow graduates. "Class of 2016, welcome to the real world, welcome to a new start, welcome to the next chapter. As a word of advice, don't settle, keep pushing, and do what you want," she said. "Don't let anything or anyone stops you, live and don't take life too seriously...life is short and it's up to you to make it sweet. Most importantly though, always remember to back up your hard drive."

Hannah's speech captured the essence of the BAC's culture and community. She recalled the rigorous coursework and countless late nights, admiring all of the graduates for their ambitious drive and thanking the BAC's close-knit community for its unwavering support. She ended by challenging her peers to go into the world and make an impact.

"I challenge us to question decisions, push limits and find innovative solutions. I challenge us to find ways to learn in everything we do, and to find our passion for design every day," Hannah said. "I ask you to continue to support one another. And when the going gets tough and the deadlines are impossible, I ask you to continue to preserve, to strive for success and to ‘get it done.'"

Moshe Safdie, renowned architect, urban planner, educator, and theorist delivered the commencement address. Safdie received the 2015 AIA Gold Medal, and will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 National Design Awards of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum this fall. Throughout his celebrated career, he has continued to inspire the theory and application of ideas about housing, mixed use and high density in cities around the world.

"All of you in some way will deeply affect our environment. You will have a direct impact on the lives of people; it is an enormous responsibility," Moshe said in his keynote address. "Staying curious is the most important thing. Use your eyes, and be a critical observer."

The BAC awarded Moshe an honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to the architecture and design professions. Other honorary degree recipients were G. Neil Harper, Overseer Emeritus and past Board member, and Marc Pelletier, BAC alumnus and Board member. Both Neil and Marc, who have been invaluable resources and dedicated supporters of the BAC, received honorary doctorates for their years of service to the College.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016 and best of luck to all of the graduates in their future careers!