1959 - 1970
Carol Johnson began her practice in 1959, with the encouragement of colleagues from The Architects Collaborative, where she had worked the previous year, and taking advantage of projects offered her through contacts she had made as a student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and at Wellesley College.
Between 1959 and 1970, Carol operated her practice initially out of her apartment in Cambridge and then out of a small office on Mount Auburn Street in Harvard Square. As the practice expanded, she moved to larger offices and hired additional employees. In 1970, the firm changed its name from Carol R. Johnson, Landscape Architect, to Carol R. Johnson & Associates to reflect the growing importance of the employees to the practice. In September of 1975, the firm was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as Carol R. Johnson & Associates, Inc. During these years, the firm did significant work at the U.S. Pavilion for Expo ’67 in Montreal, Canada. Over the ensuing years, the firm has grown to become one of the larger landscape architectural firms in the United States, serving a national and international clientele.
During the decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s, CRJA focused on transforming urban spaces, campuses, industrial sites, and waterfronts into celebrated parks and public spaces. Projects reinforced the hallmarks upon which the practice was founded in 1959, by emphasizing traditional values of dedicated public service, and an unrelenting insistence upon quality in design and construction.
The 1970’s saw the completion of the first of many community-based planning projects for CRJA, the North Common in Lowell, MA. The project was an outgrowth of Lyndon Johnson’s Model Cities Program and began a long tradition of engaging the community in the design process. The Mystic River Reservation in Medford and Somerville, MA, begun in the late 1970’s and completed in the early 80’s, was an early example of the firm’s ability to meld its interest in history (in this case Charles Elliot’s approach to scenic and natural resource values) with state-of-the-art environmental sciences. A separate land reclamation and restoration effort at a former power plant site on Lake Cayuga in upstate New York helped to restore the site to a natural meadow landscape, which would subsequently go through the normal process of becoming forest again.
The 1980s saw the commencement and completion of many of the firm’s most important public waterfront reclamation and open space projects, including the Old Harbor Park along Dorchester Bay in Boston, MA, completed in 1986; the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, which unites the Charles River Reservation with nearby Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, completed in 1987; the Lechmere Canal Park in East Cambridge, MA, an important urban revitalization effort in the City, the first phase of which was completed in 1983; and, significantly, the John Marshall Park along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., completed in 1983.
In tandem with its work on park and waterfront revitalization projects, the firm continued to expand its footprint on college and university campuses in the Northeast, undertaking landscape master planning, site design, and restoration efforts at Wellesley College, Williams College, Harvard University and Boston University.
During this decade the firm focused a great deal of energy on Boston’s urban, public realm. We took on the role of Lead Landscape Architect for Boston’s Big Dig project. This 10-year endeavor required as many as 12 full-time staff at various times. Also in this period was our work on the Harborwalk and park associated with the Moakley Courthouse, the first major public space in Boston’s Seaport District. This work was coupled with the design of a great number of public schools in the Boston region.
This decade also saw the start of our cemetery planning and design practice, featuring the construction of the massive, Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, MA.
CRJA’s international work got underway at this time with projects in Taiwan, Korea and Bermuda. Shae-Tze Island in Taipei and LG Chemical Research Park in Korea were mainstays of this effort.
2000 - 2011
In August of 2001, the firm purchased and renovated a former molasses warehouse on Broad Street in Boston’s financial district, where it is headquartered today. Among seven partners, Carol is the Chairman Emeritus and Harry Fuller is the firm’s President and Managing Partner.
In this decade, CRJA started working seriously in the Middle East. Four major projects gave impetus to this growth: Shams Island Central Park, Abu Dhabi; American University in Cairo Master Plan and New Campus design; Marasy Waterfront Residential Complex, Abu Dhabi; and the Marabet Equestrian Community Master Plan outside Cairo. These and other projects in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Dubai enabled us to establish a branch office in Abu Dhabi for four years from 2007-2011.
To service expanding work in the U.S. Southeast and abroad in China, CRJA opened an office in Knoxville, TN in 2005, and placed our first representative in Beijing in 2010.
2011 - Today
In 2011, CRJA formed a strategic alliance with the IBI Group of Firms, complementing their key areas of Urban Land, Building Facilities, Transportation, and Intelligent Systems. Established in 1974 and headquartered in Toronto, IBI Group has grown over the years both organically and through strategic acquisitions.
Today the firm has dozens of offices located across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. IBI Group professionals exercise a broad and sophisticated knowledge base that spans urban design and planning, building and landscape architecture, engineering, advanced transportation management and traffic systems, real estate analysis, communications specializations and software development.