MBB Architects offer employees travel grants to broaden cultural perspectives – Archinect

February 17, 2020


Image courtesy of MBB Architects.

Image courtesy of MBB Architects.

In an effort to expand cultural competency, Murphy Burnham & Buttrick (MBB) Architects has instituted its own private travel grant. Established in 2016, the Harold Buttrick Travel Grant offers one employee five days of paid leave and paid travel-related expenses to “[broaden] his or her understanding of architecture through a research project.” 

In a field so influenced by culture, it’s not uncommon for students of architecture to take advantage of their institutional travel opportunities. Be it a study abroad program or even a fellowship opportunity for a recent graduate, these trips undoubtedly inform the cultural compass of the travelers who set out on them. Yet, when one enters the workforce, these opportunities become less of a reality.

“Offering this grant helps MBB expand our perspective and professionalism in ways that can only be achieved through experiencing architecture as it’s practiced in worlds other than our own. The research is brought back to the firm and shared within the office,” said MBB partner Mary Burnham, FAIA in a statement. 

One recipient, Claire Ross, traveled to Japan in 2016 to explore the theme of “Embracing Impermanence.” In 2017, associate Sanou Cisse studied wood timber construction in Norway. And, back in 2018, visited South Korea to study its urbanization. “MBB values diversity and collaboration in designing rich and nuanced architecture that resonates with our diverse world,” said MBB partner Sara Grant, AIA, LEED AP. “We believe that providing our employees the opportunity to get out and see the world through the lens of their work perfectly aligns with our mission.”

Providing staff this option sets an interesting model for other firms to adopt. Investing in research-centered travel not only shows team members that they are valued, but also illustrates the organizations commitment toward diversity.