Ray Porfilio and Rickie Harvey


Ray and Rickie have been good friends of mine since graduate school days in New York.  They had met while undergrads at Williams, and then Ray spent a couple of years studying law at Oxford (and rowing lightweight crew) before architecture school, which provided him with a broad education.  Getting to know Ray during first year turned out to be problem, as we sat next to each other in one studio and found that we had so many interesting things to talk about that it seriously interfered with getting our work done.  (Those of you who know me from later stages in my career can nod knowingly here, but it was really much worse in grad school than it has been since – when you put two people together who have this proclivity, it goes exponential.)

Ray and Rickie moved to Boston soon after graduation, where Ray worked for or managed a succession of very good firms at a range of scales, and Rickie continued her work in publishing and museums.  They lived in great old neighborhoods in Roslindale and West Roxbury,DSCF3869where I visited them whenever my travels took me to Boston.  They raised two children, Parker and Jaqueline, who to the amazement of all parents of recent college graduates, are employed full-time and living on their own.

Greta got to spend one evening with them before she flew back to Eugene for a visit with Linda, and then I stayed for several more days (the most extended visit we’ve had in over thirty years) which still didn’t give us enough time to cover all the topics at hand – book recommendations, architecture and growth in Boston, the vicissitudes of middle age, etc.  Rickie and Ray have both been very active in local politics – this year they are helping to lead an effort to stop or mitigate a natural gas pipeline that will be running five miles through dense Boston neighborhoods with few safeguards – and one evening they hosted a reception at their house for Michelle Wu, a first-term city council member whom they’ve know for years.  For an Oregon resident who has become used to bizarrely transparent and simple political processes over the years, it was eye-opening to spend an evening with their neighbors, all of whom seems to have much higher understanding of the inner workings and craft of politics than anyone on the West Coast.

Ray is now a principal at Epstein Joslin Architects (http://www.epsteinjoslin.com), a firm that works in  a wide range of building types, especially known for their work in performance spaces.  We took a brief tour of their office, which felt strange to me, as I hadn’t been in an office in years where at least a quarter of the employees hadn’t been students of mine.

As with so many old friends on this trip, it was a gift to be able to send so much time with Ray and Rickie, jumping right back into a conversation that has continued for decades.

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