our team's collective history is deeply rooted in collaborative, innovative, and award-winning design
saam (pronounced “sahm”) is a multi-lingual descriptor that translates as “together”
Saam Architecture was founded in June 2014 by Diana Nicklaus and Jacobus (Koos) Louw, both of whom prioritized a highly collaborative, flexible, remote work model in creating the firm. Saam’s projects span a multitude of sectors, including: K-12, higher education, aviation, workplace, federal agencies and arts/cultural organizations. Since its establishment, Saam’s team has grown substantially to 26 staff members, drawing talent from other high-profile Boston architectural studios to bring together diverse backgrounds and skill sets, enabling us to take a holistic approach to total design.
Saam is certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) through the Federal Contracting Program, a WBE (Woman-Owned Business Enterprise) in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, a DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) through the Unified Certification Program in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and a WBE/SLBE by the city of Boston. Saam Architecture is committed to a progressive and equitable approach to the practice of architecture, which enables us to deliver highly collaborative and award-winning design.
Collaboration is central to our approach to architecture: we provide responsible design solutions based upon our clients’ goals. Our clients are not only serviced by responsive, flexible individuals who value trust and open communication, but also provided with extensive agency through their input into the project design, specifications, and execution.
We are a truly mobile professional service provider. Our clients are located throughout New England and the Northeastern United States. A number of our team members live outside a one hour commute from our studio. Investing in collaboration technology enables the Saam team to service clients from our Boston studio, from our homes or from the clients’ office or project site locations. When the need arises to be at clients’ offices or project sites we intentionally use the opportunity for personal client interaction by scheduling on-site project team work sessions that coincides with regular project meetings.
The Saam team is equipped with high-powered laptops with the most current versions of software including Revit Server. We have direct access to a wireless VPN network that allows total mobility and unified teamwork from any location at any time and we can enable access for all design team members to the Revit model through real-time VPN access. Our policy towards mobility and collaborative technology ensures that the geographical location of our Boston-based office relative to our clients’ office and/or project locations has no bearing on our ability to effectively service clients and projects.
The majority of our projects have achieved LEED certification including Gold level. We are familiar with the LEED process from concept through to final certification. We incorporate sustainable practices throughout the design process as a rule. We interpret the guidelines and where sensible, practical and economical, integrate it with our own sustainable ideas to deliver to our clients projects that are truly user friendly, energy efficient and sustainable.
Saam’s approach to sustainability is an inherent part of the business model. With an attrition rate of less than 6%, our first commitment is to the sustainability of our team. By offering flexible and remote work schedules, as well as unlimited vacation, our team sustains a strong work life balance while providing a high level of client service. In addition, we have documented that this model allows us to reduce our collective greenhouse gas emissions by over 40% when compared to a standard 9-5 office-based approach.
Saam Architecture offers a co-op/intern opportunity year-round to students majoring in architecture. Students are able to connect academic learning with practice in a supportive studio environment, where our flexible program works with a variety of university and college schedules. We appreciate the novel perspectives, fresh ideas, specialized strengths and skill sets that interns offer to our team.
President and CEO Diana Nicklaus is currently the President of the Board for Professional Women in Construction Boston. In addition, Diana has served as a Vice President for the Massachusetts Building Congress Board and a founding co-chair for the MBC’s Women’s Network. She also serves on the Design Review Committee and Master Plan Committee in Northborough, Massachusetts, where she and her fellow board members use their knowledge to review designs, flag potential issues, and make recommendations for improvements so buildings serve the best interest of the town and its residents. Additionally, Diana and the firm have been a presenter and sponsor of the Northborough Junior Woman’s Club’s annual “Women In STEM” event since 2012.
Principal Linda Smiley’s interest in preservation of historic architecture and community service has been enhanced by her 12 years of service on the Newburyport Historical Commission. She has served most recently as the Historical Commission’s representative on the Community Preservation Committee.
Vice President and COO Diana Ostberg is an active member of the Metrowest community. She is currently the “Community Champion” for Cradles to Crayons in Natick. C2C serves kids in need ages 0–12 across the state by providing clothing and other essentials. Diana organizes community clothing drives for the group as well as regularly volunteering at their “Giving Factory”, sorting through donations and preparing them to be distributed. Diana also served for three years as the President of Natick Cooperative Playgroup. The playgroup, which has been around since the 1970s, is a low-key way for local families to meet and build friendships in the community. Diana helped coordinate the group’s community service projects, including group donations for Thanksgiving meals, Christmas gifts, and Easter basket supplies for needy families.
Senior Associate Leah Fannon is a member of the parish council at her church and has been serving on a committee working to make the church more accessible by adding an elevator and two new accessible bathrooms. She also contributes time at her daughter’s public school by serving on the school site council.
Associate Katie Kernizan was a volunteer with Architecture for Humanity in Haiti, contributing to the emergency response and disaster relief efforts following the devastation of the 2010 earthquake. In 2012–2013, she returned to Haiti as an employee of a UK-based NGO to work on long term development of four public schools in Port-au-Prince.