Paul Ognibene

Paul Ognibene

Paul Ognibene – Building a Building

I argue that the disappearance of work and the consequences of that disappearance for both social and cultural life are the central problems in the inner-city.” 

from When Work Disappears by William Julius Wilson

A significant and omnipresent component of the cultural ethos created by Paul Ognibene, the CEO and founder of Urban Spaces, is the mission to enhance the host communities in which it works – not only regarding a particular building, but the host neighborhoods in which the company works.  Among a range of such initiatives to give back and to make a difference beyond good planning and architecture, Paul Ognibene is committed to more. 

In conjunction with development partners Merrill H. Diamond and Ralph Parent, Paul Ognibene created and implemented the BUILDING A BUILDING program.  It is an attempt to create meaningful change in the subject development neighborhoods through a practical initiative focused on educating and inspiring interested high school age students in the many careers involved in real estate development.  These include explaining the roles and responsibilities of the developer, the architect, the general contractor, the sub-contractors, the attorneys, the lender, and the marketing of a typical residential project.  With a vision relentlessly advanced by Paul Ognibene and his partners, the team provided this community benefit in conjunction with the development of The Lancaster at 1501 Commonwealth Avenue, a 55-unit building now in evidence a few blocks from Brighton High School, the source of our participants.  In addition to coursework related to the aforementioned professions and trades, the students were provided with an opportunity to tour the construction site of The Lancaster to see the classroom work being implemented in real time.

All of the speakers, from the developer and architect to the attorneys and marketers, were involved with the construction of The Lancaster.  Prominent among these were Paul Ognibene of Urban Spaces, many senior staff members of his firm, and his joint venture partners in the development.   It is with no small sense of pride that the administration of Brighton High School asked if Urban Spaces could repeat the program after The Lancaster was completed.  By all accounts, the BUILDING A BUILDING initiative as conceived by Paul Ognibene, Merrill H. Diamond, and Ralph Parent was a great success and will soon be repeated in the other municipalities moving forward.  With the increased emphasis on our inner cities, the need for these kinds of programs will become even more important as we search for transformational answers to long-standing problems.  Paul Ognibene has and will be in the forefront of this effort.


Urban Spaces, LLC is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based real estate development company. Founded in 1989 by current CEO Paul Ognibene, Urban Spaces has earned a regional reputation for award-winning developments that revitalize emerging neighborhoods and enhance those that are well-established.  The company has developed broad range of projects, including new construction, adaptive re-use, and historic preservation in both the private and public sectors.  In addition to being an innovator, Urban Spaces is an influencer and is known for forecasting and advancing many of the important urban trends that we see today, such as micro units, modular construction, and environmental design.  Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces continue to make important contributions to the urban fabric and to the host communities it serves.