As the chief operating officer of large real estate and development company Related Beal, Kimberly Sherman Stamler has played a key role in the construction boom in Boston. Her firm’s signature projects in the area include the One Back Bay/Clarendon luxury residential tower and Lovejoy Wharf, where Related Beal is building a new US headquarters for sneaker company Converse. The company also made a splash recently when it unveiled a proposal for a 14-story residential building in downtown Boston with apartments for low- and middle-income families at rents around 40 percent below the market average. Stamler recently spoke about how she got into the business and the future of development in Boston.
1. Stamler, 37, first became interested in urban design as a child, when the New Jersey native would accompany her parents to their jobs in New York City.
“I loved going to work with them, coming into New York and seeing the diversity within the city. I wanted to know what was going with the people, the noises, the buildings, the rhythm of the place. I was fascinated by how we got around, and I loved plotting out the routes we would take on the subway.”
2. Besides Boston and New York City, Stamler’s favorite urban areas are the old cities of Europe such as Brussels and Glasgow, where she found inspiration in the blend of classic and modern architecture.
“Seeing modern architecture in old cities, and seeing old cities keep existing architecture — that’s what makes a city one of the best in the world. I think Boston pays close attention to preserving and honoring the architecture that’s been here for so long, while being flexible with new buildings and ideas.”
3. Stamler decided on a career in development while majoring in urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In particular, she liked that the field required her to put knowledge of various disciplines into practice.
“I studied so many different pieces of city development. It’s not just architecture, it’s education, real estate law, policy, and economics. As a student, we had to rezone an area of Philadelphia. That’s when I got hooked — it got me right into the weeds of the city’s goings-on.”
4. Stamler said the hardest part of her career was during the recent recession, when development all but ground to a halt. However, she said, tough times can help companies learn to operate more efficiently.
“You have to find the opportunities in challenges. Is there a new construction technique we could pioneer that would save money? Even now, we look at every building after it’s done and say, ‘Are the end users actually using the space the way we intended? What can we do better next time?’ ”
5. Stamler has always paid close attention to the design and planning of cities she visits, but recently, she’s been taking a fresh look from the perspective of her two young sons.
“One of our favorite things as a family is exploring new cities and neighborhoods, going to cultural and kids’ institutions like museums. We explore through each others’ eyes. My kids always notice things that I don’t, and it’s really interesting and fun to see what sticks out to them.”