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The Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA's) headquarters at 25 Beacon Street in Boston was built for another time, and it's time to move. The UUA has identified a new location in Boston's Innovation District at 24 Farnsworth St.
SPEAKER 1: Why would the Unitarian Universalist Association move from its historic headquarters at 25 Beacon Street to an area called the Innovation District in Boston? Because 25 Beacon was built for another time.
REV. HARLAN LIMPERT: Oh, let me count the ways.
REV. TERRY SWEETSER: There is not high-speed internet on Beacon Hill.
REV. SARAH LAMMERT: Well, right now, we are in three different buildings. And most of us are housed either down at 25 or up here. It's a whole city block between us.
HILARY GRAY: We're siloed. Each floor keeps to ourselves a little bit.
KATRINA FOSTER: We're up on the sixth floor. We don't even have an elevator that comes all the way up to the sixth floor, which is crazy.
REV. PETER MORALES: The truth is that we're in a building that was designed for a late 19th-century organization.
REV. TERRY SWEETSER: It's not a practical building. And like our foremothers and forefathers who moved for the simple reason that the old building was outmoded, we need to move from here.
KAY MONTGOMERY: I was very reluctant to give up this building. And, gradually, I let myself realize that charming though it is, that it really doesn't lend itself to the best kind of work atmosphere. And we're about serving our congregations.
REV. PETER MORALES: We're going to be able to actually move into a better facility and put $8 million, $10 million, $12 million probably into the endowment to help our congregations in our move into the future.
KAY MONTGOMERY: And, of course, the expense of rehabbing a building with this kind of age on it would be far more expensive than anything we might purchase, even if we weren't trying to increase the money in our endowment.
REV. PETER MORALES: What we have found is that with our staff spread in two buildings on 12 different floors, and these long corridors with private offices, it interferes with the kind of interaction and collaboration that's essential for us to be successful today.
KATRINA FOSTER: I love the idea that we'll be in a space that's more collaborative and open, the idea that you can actually see what's going on. You see, what is that interesting meeting that's happening over there where two folks from different program areas are talking? Maybe I can find out some more about that.
CAREY MCDONALD: There's actually term for this in economics. It's called knowledge spill-overs. And it's this phenomenon that created Silicon Valley, which is that all these people are in the same place. And they're learning from one another. So that there's a huge amount of value in those unplanned interactions. Another thing that I'm very much looking forward to is the increased capacity of technology that we have.
REV. TERRY SWEETSER: The internet here is about a third the speed that you have it in your home. And, if you're not in 25, if you're in 41, your internet is sent to you by an antennae and is half again as fast.
REV. HARLAN LIMPERT: We're moving because we want better technology. We want the ability to collaborate and communicate with one another more effectively. And we want a symbolic effort to move into the future.
KAY MONTGOMERY: It's not as though we will leave our history behind us. You know our history goes with us. It's who we are.
REV. SARAH LAMMERT: I love that quote in our hymnal that says, we cherish the past, but we trust the dawning future more. And that's just not the message we're giving with this location. And I think a new building will show that we are a forward-looking people.
REV. HOPE JOHNSON: I don't have to be wedded to one address. I'm wedded to Unitarian Universalism. And I believe, even in the new physical home, it will still be my faith home. So it'll still be in my heart. That's what I'd like to share.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
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UUA President Rev. Peter Morales inside the new headquarters at 24 Farnsworth St. in Boston.
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