Donald Tellalian speech
Donald Tellalian during his presentation (photo credit: G. Manoug)

Tellalian Speaks in Washington on Armenian Heritage Park of Boston

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WASHINGTON – Donald J. Tellalian, the principal architect of Boston’s Armenian Heritage Park, spoke on September 12 at St. Mary Armenian Church Cultural Hall with more than fifty community members in attendance.

Master of ceremonies Leda Zenian (photo credit: G. Manoug)

In her introduction, the master of ceremonies, Mrs. Leda Zenian, said, “The Boston Armenian community, led by the Boston chapters of the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, accomplished an extraordinary project under the leadership of our guest, Donald Tellalian. They built a genocide memorial in the heart of Boston, diplomatically called “Armenian Heritage Park,” which was officially opened in 2012 by the foreign minister of the Republic of Armenia and the governor of Massachusetts. The whole project cost 6.5 million dollars. All Armenian organizations—namely more than 35 of them—worked together and raised the funds under the guidance of Barbara Chrakian Tellalian, the wife of our guest speaker, who is also present here with us.”

Donald J. Tellalian (AIA), recently retired, was the founding principal of Tellalian Associates Architects & Planners, LLC, a Boston based firm whose projects include several preeminent cultural, educational and historic institutions.

From left, Barbara Tellalian, Donald Tellalian and Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan (photo credit: G. Manoug)

Among his many projects are the Museum of  National Heritage, Lexington, Mass.; Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, Mass. (working with the design architect Sir James Stirling, London); The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland; Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, Winchendon, Mass.; Ironworkers Local 7 Headquarters and Apprentice Training Facility, Boston, Mass., as well as the preservation/restoration of the Massachusetts Historical Society and Old State House, Boston, MA, for which he received the Bostonian Society’s John Hancock Award for Preservation of Boston’s Historic Heritage.

His professional and community service includes course lectures and design juries at the Boston Architectural College and Wentworth Institute of Technology and serving, for many years, on the Newton Historical Commission. He is the recipient of the Historic Newton Preservation Award.  Don served as Parish Council Chair, Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Greater Boston, Cambridge and most recently as designer/architect of Armenian Heritage Park on The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, Boston.

Born in Troy, NY, he graduated from Troy High School in 1954 and went on to Carnegie Mellon University, graduating with highest honors with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1959. As a Palmer Fellow, he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Architecture from Princeton University in 1962.  A recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship in 1965, he pursued independent studies at the Universita degli Studi di Roma on the subject of Environments for Art, A Study of Museums and Exhibit throughout Italy.

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Mr. Tellalian, who was invited by the local Knights and Daughters of Vartan organization, provided captivating insights and details on what was involved in the realization of the Armenian Heritage Park. He took the audience back in time to 2002, and shared with a slide show presentation the history, the politics, and the technical aspect of building the Armenian Heritage Park in an affluent and strategic location in Boston. Tearing down the Route 93 elevated highway and building under it the tunnel called “the Big Dig” gave ample space for beautification of downtown Boston, which became called The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

All major communities, including the Greeks, Jews, Italians and Arabs, wanted to build cultural centers on that land, but all failed. Only the Armenian community succeeded. Two Armenian legislators at the Massachusetts State Legislature, Peter Koutoujian and Rachel Kaprielian, helped pass legislation granting the Armenian community a parcel of land to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Then, through multiple layers of collaboration among governmental personnel as well as Armenian organizations, the Heritage Park became a reality.

The Armenian Heritage Park contains an abstract sculpture, a split dodecahedron, which changes configuration every April, for 25 years. The sculpture is seated on a reflecting pool consisting of the representation of the nine lost “vilayets” or provinces of Western Armenia, with water pouring as tears from them. Those tears then reemerge as a single jet of water in the adjacent Labyrinth. The Park Foundation has many endowed funds, the principal being the K. George and Dr. Carolann S. Najarian Endowed Fund Lecture on Human Rights at Faneuil Hall in memory of Dr. Najarian’s father, Avedis Abrahamian.

Fr. Karapetyan during the closing ceremony (photo credit: G. Manoug)

Fr. Hovsep Karapetyan, pastor of St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church of Washington, D.C.  in his closing remarks congratulated Tellalian for his historic achievement and wished that the Armenian community of Greater Washington can one day be able to construct such a historical monument.

The evening ended with a reception where guests were able to enjoy Mr. and Mrs. Tellalian’s presence.

S.M.S.