BELMONT, Mass. — By the end of April, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) expects to begin demolition of its aging and cramped headquarters on Concord Avenue, to make way for all-new construction at the site, which will create a new three-story building with a soaring glass wall extending the full three floors in front and illuminating the interior with natural light. “This will be one of the most beautiful buildings in the country,” said NAASR Chairman Yervant Chekijian, “and a true global center for the Armenian community.”
The plans call for a variety of Armenian features incorporated into the design. The lead building donors are Edward and Pamela Avedisian. The two other leading donor families are Margaret C. and Leon J. Atamian and Family, and Marta and James Batmasian. Many NAASR members and the community have also made significant gifts. “We are honored and grateful to the many generous families who have put their trust in NAASR as one of the world’s leading institutions to preserve Armenian heritage for generations to come,” said Chekijian.
The Belmont Planning Board approved the new construction plans after a presentation from Ara Krafian, CEO of the architectural and engineering design firm of Symmes, Maini & McKee (SMMA) of Cambridge, on December 19, 2017. Recently, NAASR selected a general contractor, Altair Construction, and anticipates a start date for site work and demolition in April. Meanwhile, NAASR has continued to raise funds for the $6.5-million campaign and, to date, has financial commitments for more than $4.8 million. “We invite the community to become part of NAASR’s inspiring plans for our headquarters and create a lasting way to recognize your family,” said Chekijian.
NAASR’s rare book Mardigian Library is one of the top five Armenian libraries open to the public in the diaspora, soon to total 40,000 books, with books dating back to the 1600s, and rare periodicals dating to the 1800s, as well as unique personal archives of prominent scholars, early Armenian-Americans, and religious leaders. The new building will have ample space to accommodate existing holdings and allow for substantial growth, within a secure and up-to-date environment.
NAASR’s new headquarters will be a central gathering space and world-class research center for Armenian Studies. Plans call for an expanded and secure library; an expanded event hall for diverse programming and community events; a welcoming bookstore; a new classroom; a Shoah Foundation video archive viewing room; a spectacular Garden Atrium; an Armenian Alphabet Wall alongside the monumental stairway; an Atrium Overlook; and a top-floor Solarium for study and receptions before and after events, with full accessibility under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).