Patrick Ahearn’s Story: Urban Design to Island Homes
Patrick’s story is one that has been told many times but we are rarely shown the full picture. Join us as we start at the beginning:
Patrick Ahearn’s architecture career started at the early age of 5 when he built villages out of cardboard for his American Flyer train set. A little over a decade later, Ahearn studies urban design at Syracuse University and graduates with a Bachelors and Masters degree in Architecture. Fresh out of school, Ahearn moves to Boston where he starts his early career at two firms: Benjamin Thompson & Associates and The Architects Collaborative. At these two firms, Ahearn contributed to many urban projects including the redesign / rehabilitation of Faneuil Hall, the redesign of the waterfronts in Baltimore and Miami, multiple projects in the Middle East including a new Petrochemical City in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and many more.
In 1978, Ahearn opens his own firm, Ahearn Schopfer & Associates. At this point in his career, Ahearn redirects his attention to revitalizing Back Bay, Boston which was experiencing a period of decline and deterioration. He inadvertently initiated the condominium conversion movement after he completed his first successful project as both the architect and developer on Commonwealth Avenue and he transformed Newbury Street into the iconic pedestrian streetscape it is known today by introducing sidewalk cafes and retail space that previously never existed. In addition, Ahearn worked on Hotels in Boston and all over the country including The Fairmont Copley Plaza and The Omni Parker House in Boston, MA, etc. Ahearn started with one office and a few employees and a few years later his practice grew to include multiple branches along the east coast and nearly 50 employees. After a moments reflection, Ahearn re-imagined his practice to focus on high-end residential, the work he is known for today.
His career has been emblematic of the unique opportunity and responsibility of our profession to preserve, sustain and contribute to the future of our great architectural heritage”
– Howard Elkus FAIA, RIBA, LEED AP, Elkus Manfredi Architects
Ahearn’s first trip to the island was in 1989. He fell in love with the village’s wonderful qualities like its quaintness, walk-ability, and waterfront location; however he also saw opportunities for improvement. Ahearn began advertising his concept sketches in the Vineyard Gazette every Friday resulting in 26 projects that summer. Focused on the downtown, Ahearn designed the Atlantic and Boathouse Restaurant ultimately adding life to the village experience with newly planted trees, street furniture, widened brick sidewalks, public access to the waterfront, and outdoor dining on the street or at the water’s edge. As a result, many other shops and restaurants have seen a renaissance and revitalization as well. No longer is Main Street lined with t-shirt shops. Instead, a rich and varied mix of quality retail shops, new street trees, plantings, and lighting captures the essence of living rich and dynamically in an urban island village core. Twenty-five years later, Ahearn has contributed to over 200 projects on the island and 160 in Edgartown alone. Ahearn’s work demonstrates his devotion to how the parts fit the whole in a way that each project can successfully stand on its own, yet it transcends its designated function by celebrating Edgartown’s rich history and the public realm. Ahearn’s education and experience in urban design set the foundation for Edgartown’s future.