Announcing 2018 Promotions

February 27, 2018

Ayers Saint Gross is thrilled to announce 26 well-deserved promotions. These employee-owners, who represent all three offices and multiple disciplines, are the future of our firm. We are pleased to be a place where people can learn, grow, and share their expertise with our clients.


Eric Zobrist, AIA, LEED AP

Eric has more than 20 years of experience in planning, designing, and managing large-scale higher education, corporate, retail, and mixed-use residential projects. His recent work includes the University of Arizona Health Sciences Education Building and the Vertex Student Apartments. An integral leader in our Tempe office, he is currently directing the reinvention of the Hayden Library at Arizona State University.


Dana Perzynski, AICP, EDAC, LEED AP
Dana enjoys building strong collaborations among disciplines, particularly in relation to master planning for health sciences campuses and academic medical centers. She has completed successful master plans for two of the country’s top three medical schools.

Lindsay Story
Lindsay, our Creative Director and leader of our graphic design practice group, is currently working on comprehensive signage and wayfinding efforts at the University of Denver and Gustavus Adolphus College. Her creativity has led to ongoing relationships with the National Aquarium, the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and Bowie State.


Brian Gruetzmacher, AIA
Brian’s focus for 2018 is the completion of the historic renovation and expansion of Bancroft Elementary School on a challenging site in Washington, D.C. He is also a member of the firm’s internal strategic planning group.

Kim Heaney
Kim is the firm’s Contracts Administrator. Her organization and eye for detail is demonstrated through her handling of all contracts and subcontracts for every project across all three offices.

Adam Knepprath, CCNA
Adam, a member of the IT team, leads firmwide cybersecurity programs. He also conducts internal awareness programs to educate fellow employee-owners on the importance of cybersecurity issues.

Michelle Moseley, PMP, LEED AP BD+C

Michelle recently served as project manager on a complex planning, architecture, landscape, and signage team, delivering excellent design work on an aggressive schedule. In addition to work on projects such as the new dining and housing facility at the University of Maryland, she boosts corporate culture through multiple strategic initiatives.

Adam Ravestein, PLA
Adam brings a wide array of passions to the landscape architecture studio, urban design projects, and the entire design process. His diverse experience ranges from the Waterfront Campus Plan for the National Aquarium, the San Martin Drive corridor enhancements for Johns Hopkins University, and campus transformation projects for Grinnell College.

Doug Satteson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CDT, NCARB
Doug has enjoyed his extensive work with the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently working on the Collections Storage Module at the Udvar Hazy Center in Dulles, VA, as well as starting design work on the Museum Support Center in Suitland, MD.

Jasmine Shah, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Jasmine’s leadership and expertise extends throughout the design and construction processes. She currently serves as project architect on Delaware State University’s housing and dining facility while also completing construction administration on the Douthit Hills Hub at Clemson University.

Allison Wilson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Allison is an architect and the firm’s Sustainability Director. She develops sustainability master plans and strategies for institutional clients, advances building projects through LEED certification and performance analysis, and leads programming for our annual Green Week and the Carrot Awards. Allison actively serves USGBC Texas and the ACE Mentor Program of Austin.

Eric’s goal for 2018 is to elevate the firm’s dining portfolio. His recent work includes projects at Goucher College, Minnesota State University-Mankato, and Case Western Reserve University. Eric has also designed residence halls that are currently under construction at Penn State Behrend and Colby College.

Irini Zhupa Zendeli, AIA, LEED Green Associate
Irini is excited about a rare upcoming opportunity: the chance to design a project at her undergraduate alma mater. She will be part of the design team for a new dining and housing facility at the University of Maryland, currently slated to open in 2020.


Shelly Drees, SITES AP
Shelly is the firm’s first SITES Accredited Professional. SITES is a comprehensive Green Business Certification, Inc. rating system designed to distinguish sustainable landscapes, measure their performance, and elevate their value. She’s currently working on campus transformation projects for Grinnell College.

Kevin Jones, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Kevin’s recent projects include the Texas Tech University Experimental Science Building II and the reinvention of the Hayden Library at Arizona State University. He is also a member of the firm’s internal strategic planning group.

William Kenton, LEED Green Asssociate

Following the recent grand opening of the Kent State University Integrated Science Building, William is currently working on both the Whittle School & Studios D.C. campus and a medical research lab project in Baltimore. He is also a member of the AIA Baltimore Historic Resources Committee.

Joe Kim
Joe is studying for his Landscape Architecture licensure while working on projects for Clemson University and Goucher College. He is proficient in BIM, and a member of the firm’s visualization group.

Daniel Lucenti
Daniel is currently working on construction administration for the Providence Innovation Center and The Enoch Pratt Free Library, and will start design for District Hall in Providence in the near future.

Tiffany McAllister, LEED Green Associate
Tiffany’s recent projects include Science @ Carnegie Mellon University and Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences Master Plan. She is actively involved in the firm’s volunteer committee at Beechfield Elementary/Middle School.

Marie McKenna, LEED AP BD+C
Marie is hard at work on Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall at Washington College. It is slated to be the school’s first Living Building Challenge project.

Christine Pappert
Christine, a member of the firm’s finance department, created a user-friendly reporting structure that is now being implemented for multiple large firmwide projects.

Jeff Phang
Jeff enjoys finding efficiencies in processes and helping clients make smarter decisions by leveraging data. He’s excited about further integrating Space Analytics into campus planning and other disciplines.

Katherine Richardson, CID
Katherine is on the design team for the Interfaith Center at Goucher College and the student center renovation at American University. She also serves as the Legislative Coordinator for the Maryland Coalition of Interior Designers.

Corey Rothermel, ITCA-CR
Corey is pursuing his AICP certification while working on the 2018 University of North Texas Health Science Center Campus Master Plan and Tarrant County College District Visioning projects.

Rhiannon Rudolph, PHR
As part of the HR team, Rhiannon’s 2018 goal is to further develop a culture of learning at the firm. This role includes establishing a more thorough onboarding process for new employees and strengthening the leadership development program.

Alex Semkin

Alex is a part of the design team for the Duke University Physical Therapy School of Nursing Education Building, integrating complex program requirements into a modern building in harmony with the historical gothic campus. He is excited for construction to begin this spring.

30 Years of Embracing Change: Reflecting on Jim Wheeler’s Career at Ayers Saint Gross

January 30, 2018

2018 marks a significant change for our firm: it’s the first year since 1987 that Jim Wheeler has not been a part of our day-to-day operations. While Jim will continue as Chair of the Ayers Saint Gross Board of Directors, we will no longer see him each week.

This moment has been carefully planned for some time. But now it’s real. Jim has been a colleague, mentor, and friend. His impact on the firm has been, and will continue to be powerful.

When Jim Wheeler came to Ayers Saint Gross in 1987, the firm was already 75 years old, with a venerable history and deep local traditions, but also ready to transform itself. He saw a collection of people willing and anxious to take on the future – and change. That’s what Jim has always been about, and still is.

After a stock market implosion in the late 1980s, Jim and Adam Gross made a trip to the University of Virginia. Despite the economy, Virginia saw a boom coming in higher education and they would need to build. Inspired by that meeting, Jim and Adam said: What if we concentrated on higher ed? What if we became the firm colleges and universities turn to for new buildings, housing, and campus plans?

That moment of inspiration became a strategy that has endured for many years. The firm’s focus shifted to all aspects of higher ed planning and design. During the next three decades, Ayers Saint Gross grew from about 30 people to 170, from 10 or 15 projects to over 300, from one office to three, from Baltimore to the Mid-Atlantic to the western U.S. to 20 countries.

Jim embraced change yet again by encouraging the firm to redefine cultural attractions as educational institutions, thereby expanding our impact to a broader array of mission-driven institutions.

When it came to developing the expertise our clients needed, he encouraged us to go beyond architecture, investing in planning, graphic design, landscape architecture, and space analytics.

When it came to hiring, Jim pushed us outside of our comfort zone, purposely adding people with different points of view, contrary ideas, new voices.

When it came to connecting with our communities, Jim invested in multiple ways. He embraced our long-standing efforts to introduce the design professions to a wider audience of kids, particularly those at Beechfield Elementary School in West Baltimore. Jim’s understanding of the importance of giving-back led him to the United Way early in his career. When the challenge of leading the United Way of Central Maryland board came along, Jim saw a chance for growth and change – in the United Way and in himself. He helped lead them to pioneering projects, including a new home in Montgomery Park in 2017.

When it came to the firm’s future, Jim wasn’t content with conventional paths. He explored and implemented an employee-ownership structure – speeding a generational ownership transfer and refocusing the next generation of leaders and change agents.

When it came to leadership, Jim was a champion of real change. He insisted that the firm needed a new voice and a different outlook. I agreed to be his successor on one condition: if Jim stayed and worked with me for year to make the process as seamless as possible.

Jim was at the forefront of the firm’s business development efforts for many years. I’m pleased to announce that his successor there also comes within the firm. Since May 2017, Katy Hunchar has been serving as our Director of Marketing and Business Development. Katy first came to Ayers Saint Gross in 2011 and has since risen through the ranks to lead our strategic marketing and business development efforts across all disciplines for higher education, cultural institutions, and other mission-driven clients.

Now Jim is embarking on yet another change: his well-deserved retirement. He’s officially left the firm on a day-to-day basis, but will lead our board for through 2020.

Change, change, change. Many people run from it. Most resist or avoid it. And most companies whither from not keeping up with it or leading it. Not Jim. Not Ayers Saint Gross. I’d like to close with his own words:

“If you see change and are careful, that’s okay.
If you deny change, that’s doom.
If you see opportunity, that’s the future.”

Awards: 2017 Year in Review

January 3, 2018

Our goal is to engage people and places to create designs that enrich the world. One of the ways we know we’ve achieved that goal is when our peers are kind enough to honor our work. Here’s a round-up of selected accolades Ayers Saint Gross earned in 2017.

2017 Architect 50: Top 50 Firms in Design. We are so pleased to be included on this prestigious list, ranking at No. 42. Our design portfolio showed a wide range of mission-driven work, from an open, transparent learning center for 21st century medical education inspired by the desert landscape of Arizona to a 14-acre innovation district in the heart of Philadelphia.

The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. This groundbreaking building merited two national AIA awards. This LEED Platinum certified building was named to the COTE Top Ten list because it embeds important public health values into the design via daylighting and a feature stair to encourage walking. (This project is the second Ayers Saint Gross project named to the COTE Top Ten List; the first was the University of Baltimore Angelos Law Center in 2014.)

This project also won a national AIA Honor Award for Interior Architecture. Its pod-like classrooms are set on the perimeter of the building, allowing for views of nearby Washington Circle.

Payette served as design architect and Ayers Saint Gross served as associate architect on the Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Salisbury University Guerrieri Academic Commons. This new building brings all academic support programs under one roof. Organized around a central atrium, each of the building’s four floors is dedicated to a different type of learning: staff-supported research, learning and teaching skills, individualized study, and public dialogue.

With its combination of rich programming and beautifully executed design, the Salisbury University Academic Commons merited Excellence in Design Awards from AIA Maryland and AIA Potomac Valley, and an Honorable Mention from AIA Baltimore.

The LEED Gold certified Commons also earned a USGBC Maryland Wintergreen Award for Education, and a Brick in Architecture Bronze award from the Brick Industry Association. The latter award honored the Commons’ brickwork, which echoes Holloway Hall, the university’s original campus building. The vertical elements and façade details lend a more human scale to the 226,000 SF building.

Ayers Saint Gross is the prime architect of record in association with Sasaki as design architect on this project.

University of Arizona Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building (BSPB). This 10-story building is the tallest on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, adding much-needed research space and supporting the interdisciplinary efforts of the medical school and its public and private sector partners. A public mixing bar, designed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, connects to the existing Health Sciences Education Building, also completed by Ayers Saint Gross and CO Architects. The BSPB won two prestigious regional awards – the AIA Arizona Distinguished Building Award and the ENR Southwest Best Regional Project in Higher Education/Research.

The project’s iconic design draws inspiration from the Arizona landscape, highlighted by the horizontal, chiseled striations of its exterior. The 4,800 copper panels reflect light and cast shadows that recall canyon walls. This element earned the project a North American Copper in Architecture Award from the Copper Development Association, Inc.

The project delivery is a continued partnership between CO Architects and Ayers Saint Gross.

University of Pikeville Health Professions Education Building. This building is a symbol of a change in the heart of central Appalachian coal country, as the global energy needs shift away from fossil fuels and towards a more health- and technology-driven economy. Located on a steeply sloped site, the building’s envelope uses material and color palate to meld with the surrounding environment to “bring the mountains inside.” This beautiful, forward-looking project earned Merit Awards from both AIA Kentucky and AIA St. Louis.

Ayers Saint Gross designed the Health Professions Education Building in association with Trivers Associates.

AIA Associate Award. Last but certainly not least, Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, was a 2017 AIA Associate Award Recipient. This award is presented to associates who are outstanding leaders and creative thinkers for significant contributions to their communities and the architecture profession. Linsey, an architect and campus planner in our Tempe office, was appointed to a three-year term on the AIA National Diversity and Inclusion Council, and she was one of 22 architects and educators invited to join the Equity in Architecture Commission. She will also be a member of the 2018 AIA National Education Facilities Awards Jury, and a member of the K-12 task force. Currently she is working on a campus master plan for Cal Poly Pomona and the Texas A&M Sustainability master plan.

2017 was a wonderful year of creating designs that serve our clients and their communities. We look forward to many wonderful collaborations to come in 2018.

Announcing 2017 New Faces and New Leaders

June 27, 2017

Ayers Saint Gross is thrilled to announce new additions to our firm leadership, and well-deserved promotions for future firm leaders. We are excited to be a place where people can learn, grow, and share their expertise with our clients.

New Faces and New Roles

Christine Hurt, CPA
Christine’s focus for 2017 is all things related to the firm’s Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). She is an associate principal and the firm’s CFO. Outside of work, she likes to travel, scuba dive, and sing.

Kevin Johnson, AIA LEED AP
Kevin, a principal, believes that listening and face-to-face interaction with clients are key to successful design. He enjoys asking questions to build consensus and to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration. Kevin is also an avid cyclist and guitarist.

Lindsay Story
Lindsay has worked on projects large (signage and wayfinding for the Monticello Visitor Center) and small (a pocket-sized student life pop-up book) at Ayers Saint Gross. As Creative Director and the leader of the firm’s graphic design practice group, she looks forward to continued excellence on both print and environmental projects.

Allison Wilson, AIA LEED AP BD+C
Allison’s project “claim to fame” is the 2017 Texas A&M campus master plan, which led to continued engagement on the university’s sustainability master plan efforts. She is the firm’s Sustainability Director. In her spare time she attempts to exhaust her family’s Australian shepherd puppy, Hagrid.

Stephen Wright, AIA
Steve thinks it doesn’t get any better than melding his passions for performing and visual arts with his love of design, and looks forward to helping grow the firm’s practice in the arts and libraries as one of the firm’s principals. A former singer, he now devotes much of his time to attending classical music concerts and building support for ensembles like the Washington Bach Consort.


Kristen Ambrose, AIA CSI LEED AP BD+C
Kristen is an architect with expertise in the design of sustainable academic environments that support innovative teaching and learning. She served as project architect for the Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she teaches in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. She loves travel and exploring cities.

Alice Brooks, AIA LEED AP BD+C
Alice, a Goucher College grad, considers the opportunity to work on multiple projects at her alma mater – housing, a dining facility, and an interfaith center – a career highlight. In 2017, she’s looking forward to participating in the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit in September, spending time with family, and traveling.

Corey Chang, AIA LEED AP BD+C
Corey loves working in teams and with individuals that show character and passion, and those he has worked with on Howard Community College’s Science Engineering & Technology building and the Washington University in St. Louis Bryan Hall Renovation & Bridge had both qualities in spades. He has a deep-rooted obsession with acquiring power and hand tools, and spends an inordinate amount of time and money building things instead of simply buying them.

Jon Eaton, MCP MCSA
Jon, Director of IT, encourages a broader understanding of technology throughout the firm and strives to develop a culture of change with everyone he works with. Outside of the office, he enjoys hiking the Appalachian Trail, snowboarding, coaching soccer, and playing the violin.

Joel Fidler, AIA LEED AP BD+C
Joel likes to provide unexpected and creative solutions for clients like the Maryland School for the Blind (MSB). He has completed two projects for MSB, an institution he greatly admires. Joel dedicates a few minutes each morning to drawing a cartoon note for each of his two kids and packing them in their school lunches. He is seeking suggestions for cartoon topics.

Linnea Kessler-Gowell, CID NCIDQ
Linnea enjoys building relationships with clients like Brown Advisory. Most of her time away from the office is spent hanging out with her son.

Ann Powell, AIA LEED AP BD+C
Ann’s recent portfolio includes two new storage facilities for the Smithsonian’s collection, ensuring the long-term preservation of our national treasures. She also worked on the Salisbury University Academic Commons, a bold and modern center for the academic heart of the university. In the winter, you can find Ann sitting by the fire after a delicious home-cooked dinner with family. In the summer, you’ll find her watching the sunset from a sailboat, also with family.

Amelle Schultz, ASLA LEED AP
Amelle’s project “claim to fame” is the Waterfront Campus Plan for the National Aquarium in Baltimore. In the coming year, she looks forward to growing the firm’s landscape master plan portfolio and renovating her new house.


Jonathan Catania, AIA LEED Green Associate
Jonathan recently completed work on the renovation of Ryan & Isaac Hawkins Halls at Georgetown University. He hopes to help the firm win more great architecture and interiors projects, and to watch a lot of Washington Nationals games this summer.

Amy Cuddy, CPSM
Amy is excited about the recently completed photo shoot of District House at The George Washington University, as it was the first pursuit she worked on and won at Ayers Saint Gross. Outside of work, she enjoys making things in the kitchen with her two daughters and on her crochet needles.

Alyson Goff, M.Ed MPA
In the coming year, Alyson plans to expand her project experiences by working with clients at large and diverse campuses as well as interdisciplinary collaboration within the firm. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting craft breweries.

Jack Hulme, LEED Green Associate
Jack recently led the Ohio University team in realigning the boundaries of 10 campus green spaces to create a more intuitive wayfinding experience on the 1700 acre campus. He’s currently overseeing signage projects at Bowie State University, Washington University in St. Louis, Enoch Pratt Free Library, and Grinnell College. Outside of work, he likes spending time with his family, being involved with their church, and enjoying the outdoors.

Katy Hunchar
Katy is a creative and strategic member of the marketing and business development team who leads the annual business planning process and works with designers to tell our projects’ stories. She is also a talented illustrator.

Jessica Leonard, AIA LEED AP
Jessica is passionate about helping clients like the Smithsonian Institution and The Ohio State University solve complex problems and transform their physical environments. In her free time, she is a dedicated volunteer for the SHARPkids after-school program.

Cooper Melton, AIA LEED Green Associate
Cooper’s goal as an architect is to create transformative buildings; he’s currently working on the Virginia Commonwealth University Gladding Residence Center I & II project. He collects vintage vinyl with a focus on 1990s indie and 1970s country folk. One day he hopes to get all three of his children to nap at once so he can listen to some records.

Sandy Michael
Sandy supports our accounting and finance departments, which aim to provide service to our internal and external clients as well as better reporting and increased communication around policies and procedures. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her boating on the Chesapeake Bay.

Nakia Neves, CPSM
Nakia’s professional passion is adapting the AIA’s Equity in Architecture Commission for marketing professionals in the AEC industry, while her personal passions are all things art and music. She takes great pride in our firm’s many collaborations with University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and Phoenix Biomedical Campus stakeholders during the past decade.

Tarek Saleh, AIA LEED AP
Tarek directs the firm’s visualization committee, and recently served as a lead designer on a project in the Providence Innovation District. He’s also a big car guy, with a particular interest in architecture influences on automotive and industrial design.

Fred Satchell
Fred programmed our proprietary space analytics tool, SAMi, from scratch; his favorite part of the code is the GIS portion. His next SAMi goal is to take the program into VR. When not coding, he enjoys tending to his sizable indoor garden, which includes more than 40 varieties of non-GMO organic vegetables.

Rosalie Tilghman, AIA LEED AP BD+C CDT
Rosalie’s project claim to fame is three phases of student housing at the University of Delaware. Outside the office, she likes to travel and to garden.

In 2017, Chip’s professional focus will be joining colleagues to strengthen the resources and resourcefulness of the firm’s interiors team. His portfolio includes the interiors of the Wilmer Eye Institute and the Viragh Outpatient Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Duke University School of Nursing, Smithsonian SCBI Educational Facilities, University of Maryland at College Park BioPsych renovation, and SUNY Sojourner Truth Library. Outside of work, he enjoys documentary films, especially ones that give a front-row seat to ‘behind the scenes’ processes.  


Blair Davenport, AIA
Blair’s recent work includes the Baltimore Visitor Center Renovation, which won a national ENR Award for Best Small Project. Her hobbies include speaking French and visiting Charlottesville, Virginia.

David Duxbury, LEED Green Associate
David developed a space/cost model for more than a dozen scenarios for the Johns Hopkins University’s DC presence, and hopes to create more opportunities for planning work in the District. He is both a triathlete and a classically trained baritone.

Andrew Casavant
Andrew’s recent projects include the 39 North Master Plan promoting bioscience and innovation in St. Louis and the Ohio University Comprehensive Master Plan. His goal for the coming year is to improve design concepts and their communication through visualization and written narrative. Outside of the office, he enjoys hiking and new travel experiences.

Linsey Graff, Associate AIA
Linsey, the winner of a 2017 AIA Associates award, recently completed a campus master plan for Texas A&M University. After serving on the committee for the American Institute of Architect’s Equity in Architecture Commission, she is now an advocate for its full implementation. In the coming year, she hopes to pass her licensure exams and to watch the Buffalo Bills win their first Super Bowl.

Laura Hall, RA LEED AP BD+C
Laura aims to deliver modern, functional, and inspired architecture and interior design solutions for the firm’s health sciences clients, including the Auburn University School of Nursing. Laura enjoys spending free time with friends and family, attending concerts, cooking and beach vacations. She is currently learning to golf. 

Jordan Hawes, CID NCIDQ
The Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center has been Jordan’s focus for almost five years. It’s also the project that convinced her to pursue interior design. She is excited to see the building open in 2017. For 2018, Jordan is planning a backpacking trip through New Zealand.

Nathan Korkki, AIA LEED Green Associate
Nathan began his professional career as an intern at Ayers Saint Gross and became a licensed architect two years after graduating. His recent projects include a private medical school in Scottsdale, Arizona and the University of North Texas Interdisciplinary Research & Education Building. Professionally, he is passionate about researching learning environments and student engagement. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors.

Brandon Moore, AIA LEED AP O+M
Brandon enjoys creating more efficient strategies in the workflow, execution, and development of our firm’s projects, including the construction administration of District House at The George Washington University. He also enjoys woodworking and building furniture.

Cormac Phelan, Associate AIA
Cormac’s focus for 2017 is obtaining his LEED certification. He can usually be found with a sketchbook in hand, scribbling something weird. Cormac is also the co-host of the Archispeak podcast.

Rhiannon Rudolph
Rhiannon, an HR Generalist, recently completed the huge task of analyzing the firm’s benefits package. The process resulted in better vision and dental options, and the addition of an Employee Assistance Program. She is obsessed with superhero movies, so her ideal night is watching The Avengers with her husband and their dog.

Doug Satteson, AIA LEED AP BD+C CDT
Doug’s work at Ayers Saint Gross includes multiple projects for the Smithsonian Institution. Professionally, he’s passionate about project delivery and QA/QC. Personally, he enjoys recharging by bicycling the backroads of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Vertex Student Apartments Wins AIA Arizona and ENR Southwest Awards

October 19, 2016

Vertex Student Apartments, a mixed-use student housing development in Tempe, AZ adjacent to Arizona State University, recently won two awards, the 2016 AIA Arizona Distinguished Building Merit Award and Best Residential/Hospitality Project from ENR Southwest.

The goal for this project was to develop a vibrant community built within a tight budget that still provides iconic identity and exceptional efficiency. Our team was able to complete a really complex and tightly scheduled project on schedule, and the result gives the student residents both independence and community.


Vertex’s triangular parcel, bordered by a light rail on one side, inspired its striking design with a prominent prow that became central to the project’s identity and branding. The development features 16 different unit plans and generous shared amenities for residents, as well as 6,000 GSF of ground floor civic, retail, and restaurant space. The inclusion of the latter increases visibility and connection to the street and neighborhood.

Sun-shading also influenced the design, including a light-colored shell and roof to reflect the sun and large graphic brise-soleil. A statement band of native desert plants fronts the dark shaded understory, creating an inviting and cool zone in the desert. We created view corridors that allow access-controlled pedestrian ways into the courtyard from the two street frontages. The new design is a welcome change from the fortress-like building on the site before Vertex’s construction.

Vertex was a continuous collaboration among the design team, construction manager, and developer. The project delivers a high-impact design through a minimalist design strategy, thus reducing its environmental impact. We decided to use wood on top of a concrete podium to give the project flexibility, increased construction speed, and greater sustainability. The wood structure was prefabricated off site and brought in by truck and erected via crane, thus minimizing the area needed for a saw yard on site.

Vertex provides 323,000 GSF mixed-use space and 600 beds. The project’s sensitivity to scale and experience emphasizes the owner’s commitment to develop the premier student housing community in the marketplace that incorporates and integrates unique building design, extraordinary amenities, and exceptional unit plans. The project was developed by Peak Campus and Titan Investments and constructed by hardison/downey construction, inc.

For more on Ayers Saint Gross’ award-winning designs, visit our Awards page.





Ayers Saint Gross Reaches $1B in LEED Construction

October 19, 2016

Last month, Ayers Saint Gross reached an important and exciting milestone in our sustainable journey. With the LEED Silver certification of Georgetown University’s Ryan and Isaac Halls, our firm crossed the billion-dollar mark, having produced $1 billion in LEED certified construction.

To celebrate, we’ve created an infographic that illustrates exactly what $1,000,000,000 in LEED construction looks like. Congratulations to everyoneclients, designers, partners, and of course the USGBCwho made this tremendous achievement possible. I’m particularly grateful to Emory University, the University of Maryland system, and the University of Virginia, which collectively make up 14 of our 34 LEED projects. It’s wonderful to see clients build with sustainability in mind, and then come back for more when they see its many benefits. Great clients make for great buildings.

Here’s to the next billion. We’re already on our way with the pending certification of the Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management at Morgan State University.

Green Week 2016: Planning for the Future

April 18, 2016

In a sense, every week is Green Week at Ayers Saint Gross. Building thoughtfully and responsibly is part of every project we undertake, and all of our studios incorporate sustainability into their work. 72% of our technical staff is LEED accredited, we’ve helped develop guidelines so partners in the industry can make smart decisions about building materials, and we’ve won awards for our projects. It’s just what we do as a part of our mission of engaging people and places to create designs that enrich the world.

But we really lean into it during our annual Green Week, which kicks off today. We’ve planned educational and collaborative events that bring sustainability to the forefront of firm-wide discussions, right where they belong. We’re bringing together a broad cross-section of the firm to discuss the role of high-performance design in our work, and to brainstorm ways our internal sustainability team can better support everyone’s projects.

Allison Wilson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C will present on LEED 2009 vs. LEED v4 in both our Washington, DC and Baltimore offices.

“Preparing ourselves to guide clients through LEED v4 is an important priority,” Wilson said. “It’s exciting to bring this Green Week event to multiple offices and share this expertise broadly.”

There’s sometimes a perception that environmentalism is a back-to-nature Luddite endeavor; I strongly disagree. In fact, creative thinking and cutting edge technology are essential to sustainable design. I’m presenting to my colleagues on the path to net-zero buildings. Achieving net-zero energy performance on an annual basis is important in our building work. Even if a project is ultimately unable to hit this metric, getting close is still a remarkable amount of energy savings.

Additionally, Kristina Abrams, AIA, LEED AP BD+C organized a 3D fabrication presentation. This will be a panel presentation which will address more sustainable manufacturing, while providing a pathway to incorporate this process into our work.

On Earth Day itself, Friday April 22, we’ll wrap up with a peer group discussion about how we currently incorporate sustainability into our practice and what more we can do to go above and beyond client expectations.

We’re always finding and sharing ideas about sustainable design. To learn more about sustainability at Ayers Saint Gross, please download the firm’s sustainability action plan. As I said, every week is Green Week around here.

Teaching and giving at a West Baltimore school for 17 years

March 15, 2016

As we move into 2016, the Beechfield team is taking some time to reflect on the past year. In 2015, we taught a class of 4th and 5th graders at Beechfield Elementary/Middle School in West Baltimore about all aspects of design—from architecture, to interior design, to planning, to landscape architecture, to graphic design. We also collected two carloads worth of food and numerous grocery store gift cards to donate to Beechfield students and their families during the holidays. To make sure our good friends stayed warm and well-read during the winter, our colleagues at Ayers Saint Gross rallied to give hats, gloves, scarves, books, and more this past December.

All this giving motivates the Beechfield team to do even more! Our 17-year long relationship with the school continues to grow and we are excited at the possibilities for 2016. The team is brainstorming new ways to teach the students, other giving possibilities, and opportunities to expand our influence. We hope to make 2016 an impactful year and start talented young students on a path to a career in design.

Anne Hicks Harney elevated to AIA College of Fellows

February 12, 2016

“Great architecture requires superior design ideas supported by technically proficient and sustainably minded detailing and execution. We need to create a culture of sustainability to assure consistently high performing design is all that we are presenting to the world.”
– Anne Hicks Harney, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Ayers Saint Gross is proud to announce Anne Hicks Harney, Director of Sustainability, has been elevated to the College of Fellows by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). This is one of the highest honors the AIA can bestow, and it recognizes the achievements of the architect as an individual who has made significant contributions to architecture and society. Only approximately 3% of architects ever achieve this honor.

By merging a deep knowledge of building materials with a passion for critical environmental issues, Anne Hicks Harney leads the sustainable material transparency movement both within the architectural profession and the industry at large.

Anne tirelessly pursues the highest level of integrated sustainable design. Through her practice, she has become one of the nation’s leading experts on high performance design. Through her research and activism, she has become an influential nationwide advocate for greater understanding of the environmental and health effects of building materials. She educates firm employees as well as the architectural community on material transparency, sustainable architecture, and high performance design, with a focus on re-shaping the profession’s environmental impact.

As the firm’s first Director of Sustainability, she works with all teams on sustainability issues, pushing the firm to achieve higher performance across their portfolio of projects. Under her leadership, Ayers Saint Gross became one of the nation’s leaders in sustainable architecture, planning, and design. In 2015, ARCHITECT Magazine ranked Ayers Saint Gross at 19 in sustainability among the nation’s architecture firms. Seventy percent of the firm’s professionals are LEED-accredited and all projects meet the minimum equivalency of a LEED Silver rating through resource-efficient design strategies.

Anne’s knowledge of building materials and environmental issues is evident in her role as Ayers Saint Gross’ lead technical writer where she executes the firm’s entire portfolio of projects. Anne uses her extensive knowledge of building products to work with project teams to improve selections. Her main focus is on material selection and deployment, supporting teams in articulating design ideas, turning them into durable, efficient, and environmentally sound structures.

Additionally, Anne is co-chair of the National AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group. This group creates tools to assist architects with material selection, and oversees the corresponding education. She is a member of the USGBC Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG), and is the co-founder of the Building Enclosure Council – Baltimore. Many organizations have recognized her excellence in sustainability, including USGBC Maryland which awarded her its 2013 Green Building Leader Award. Anne’s leadership in sustainability and technical initiatives within the firm elevate the caliber of our design dialogue about high performance buildings. Her efforts also ensure that energy efficiency, water efficiency, and material health are integral to every Ayers Saint Gross project.

Anne was the sustainability lead for the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore. This project, a 2014 AIA COTE top ten winner, exemplifies the firm’s integrated approach to sustainable design.

Glenn Birx, principal at Ayers Saint Gross said, “For our clients and peers, Anne’s elevation makes a statement that Ayers Saint Gross is at the forefront of the profession for sustainability issues. We care deeply about real sustainability from conception through years of building management, and are leading the nationwide effort to encourage the material transparency movement.”

Anne Hicks Harney, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C shares her expertise nationwide with speaking engagements at notable conferences including AIA National Convention, USGBC’s Greenbuild, and the Living Future Institute’s unConference. Her work at Ayers Saint Gross includes work on 33 LEED Certified projects, totaling over $1 billion in environmentally improved construction across the nation.

Anne joins other Fellows in the firm including Luanne Greene, Adam Gross, Glenn Birx, and Ed Kohls.

United Way Campaign Wrap-Up

February 9, 2016

It was another record-breaking year for our 2015 United Way annual giving campaign! The United Way team of Adam Ravestein, Meghann Boosinger, and me (Dana Perzynski), with support from Jim Wheeler, worked hard to raise a total of $41,916 to help change the odds for families who need it most.

The team organized several campaigns to raise money. The chili cook-off is always an office favorite. The competition is always fierce – each year there is a lot of smack-talking among the chefs, and this year was no exception. We had 13 chili-makers, and each chili was different and delicious! In the end Cormac Phelan, a new employee at Ayers Saint Gross, won with his chiliMAC recipe. Daniel Greenspan’s Sweet Fennel Chili and Samantha Polinik’s Moussaka Chili tied for second place. The winner received Ravens tickets, and the second place winners were awarded $100 Visa gift cards, all donated by Ayers Saint Gross.

We also continued our tradition of bringing in breakfasts every Friday in the months of November and December, where all proceeds go directly to the United Way. We added a special “Omelet Day” this year, conveniently held the day after our Holiday Party, which was a huge success. We made almost 50 omelets, specially prepared by aspiring chefs Chi Yan and Daniel Greenspan.

There were several raffles that brought in extra money – our IT department charged $50 for old computers, and we raffled off a Kindle Fire (donated by Ayers Saint Gross) at our annual Family Barbeque.

The biggest fundraiser every year is the Payroll Deduction, where money is taken directly out of employee’s payroll. The events are fun and help raise awareness, but this is where the bulk of the money comes from. We are proud that we were able to achieve 50% Baltimore office participation, and 40% total participation across the firm. The team offers incentives for employees to donate and even raise their donation from the previous year.

Even though the campaign has come to a close, we know the work is not over. There are still people in need. As a result, we have decided to continue the spirit of giving though the winter/spring by collecting toiletries for homeless veterans. We are asking employees to bring back unused hotel toiletries from their travels, and we will put together bags to donate to The Baltimore Station. We are also planning a Day of Action at Helping Up Mission in the spring.

It’s CSA time again!

February 4, 2016

Did you know the average American meal travels approximately 1500 miles from where it’s grown to where it’s eaten? There’s a lot of energy tied up in food production and transportation and supporting local agriculture can decrease food’s carbon footprint as well as create more resilient, diverse economies. Ayers Saint Gross believes in supporting our local economy and making sustainable lifestyles easier for our employees, so we’ve supported local community supported agriculture (CSA) by hosting weekly on-site CSA delivery for employees of our Baltimore office since 2013.

Dana Perzynski of the planning group coordinates office participation with One Straw Farm in the late winter months each year and food begins coming into the office in June. Perzynski says, “I make time to coordinate the CSA because I believe in supporting local farms and healthy eating. I’ve also found that it builds office camaraderie through the sharing of recipes and colleagues gawking together over sweet potatoes the size of a human head! I also like organizing things in general and I get a complimentary share for myself for coordinating the CSA…a major bonus!”

There are lots of reasons to participate in the CSA says Jonathan Ceci of the landscape studio, “I really enjoy the diversity of the produce. The share includes many kinds of vegetables that I would not normally pick up at the grocery store. Before participating in the CSA, I had never been exposed to so many species of Brassica! The quantities are often quite generous which allows for sharing with friends and family.”

Having the CSA delivery in the office has also supported lots of new recipes. Says Amber Wendland of the planning studio, “I enjoy cooking some of the more obscure veggies for family and friends and then making them guess what they just ate.”

Andrew Bernish, also of the planning studio, echoed similar sentiments, “I participated my first year at Ayers Saint Gross because it gave me the opportunity to incorporate new veggies into my meals at home. Actually ‘gave me is a bit soft – it ‘forced my hand’ to incorporate new items like kohlrabi and celtuce; alien-looking veggies I likely would not have purchased yet happily devoured.”

Sign-ups for this year’s CSA are happening between now and March 1, 2016. Food delivery is slated to begin the week of June 8 and runs for 24 weeks.

Ayers Saint Gross Maker Fair 2015

January 15, 2016

During the summer of 2015, Ayers Saint Gross completed the addition of a wood shop including a 3D printer and laser cutter. Employees were invited to take training and safety courses in order to use the newly available equipment. I jumped at the chance and did the training. I was very excited and inspired about the prospect of building models of our projects in the shop, but I also realized that not a lot of Ayers Saint Gross employees would get the chance to use it, since the task of model-building is typically relegated to interns or junior architects.

I approached a few of the senior architects at the firm about the idea of creating an in-house design competition. This would encourage the use of the shop and especially encourage the growth of our employees through learning how to use both traditional tools and newer ‘maker’ tools, like the laser cutter and 3D printer. The growth of maker culture has been exponential over the past couple of decades, nationally and globally, and architects stand to gain much by exploring its possibilities. We know this, so it wasn’t hard to convince the Executive Committee to approve this endeavor. Without the support of forward-thinking leaders, proposals like this wouldn’t come to fruition. I formed a committee and moved forward with the development of the Ayers Saint Gross Maker Fair 2015, with the intention of it becoming an annual event.

The aim of the Maker Fair is to present would-be competitors with a small, self-contained, hands-on design challenge. The committee met and discussed a few options, finally landing on the challenge of designing a light fixture using a simple bulb and chord provided upon entry. This was in part influenced by the upcoming Light City Baltimore festival, set to take place in the spring of 2016. The Maker Fair was announced to the Baltimore and DC offices, with a kick-off charrette open to competitors for the last couple of hours of the following day. Competitors were given two months to design and fabricate their lights. They were encouraged, but not limited to, the tools available in each office. When all of the submissions were received, the lights were displayed in the entrance corridor of the Baltimore office.

During the week of January 4th 2016, the lights were turned on in the late afternoon so that voters can see them in action. Voters are asked to consider the use of materials, design process and production, and of course, the Vitruvian ideals of structural integrity, utility, and beauty. The ballot required voters to rank their top five favorite designs, with points awarded in ascending order according to standing. Winners were announced at the January Office Meeting.

Thanks to my supportive committee that made it all possible – Scott Vieth, Kevin Johnson, Alvin Rudolph, Joe Kim, Logan Mahaffey, and Brandon Moore.