Ayers Saint Gross at SEAHO 2018

March 6, 2018

If you’re attending SEAHO 2018 in Biloxi, Mississippi this week, I hope you’ll visit Ayers Saint Gross at booth 303, and join us for our education session on the importance of outside-the-unit spaces in student housing.

Customized Spaces Support Engaged Students
In the age of virtual communication and social media, student housing communities need spaces outside the unit more than ever to facilitate interaction and connection. Carving out the right amount of space is the first step in connecting students to their institutions; having the right mix of spaces is equally important. Finally, customizing these spaces to the culture, spirit, and academic pursuits of the residents is critical to the vibrancy of the community.

Vibrant communities lead to engaged students, and engaged students achieve more success. Our education session will review case studies at Ringling College of Art and Design and other institutions to illustrate how allocating and customizing outside-the-unit spaces in student housing fosters strong communities to drive student success.

Participants will gain an overview of outside-the-unit space benchmarks from the Ayers Saint Gross student housing database, including:

  • The application of these concepts at Ringling College of Art and Design, including increasing the vibrancy of a developing campus edge, using outdoor spaces to connect students to the broader campus, and incorporating student art into the design.
  • Cases studies from other campuses including Goucher College, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Colby College.
  • How accounting for de-densification of older residence halls in a housing master plan maximizes the student experience across housing inventory, not just in new construction.

Tammy Walsh, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at Ringling College of Art and Design
Dennis Lynch, Principal, Ayers Saint Gross
Cooper Melton, Senior Associate, Ayers Saint Gross

SEAHO 2018
Thursday, March 8, 2018
1:15 PM – 2:15 PM
Session 4

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.

Legacy and Leadership: Designing the National Churchill Library and Center

February 23, 2018
National Winston Churchill Library and Center entrance

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” – Winston Churchill, 1943

Sir Winston Churchill was the most powerful statesman of his generation, and he remains an indelible symbol of British tenacity, wit, and honor.

His American connections were quite strong, though. Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, was a New Yorker, and Churchill himself was granted honorary U.S. citizenship in 1963. That is partly why the International Churchill Society (ICS) wanted to create a strong Churchillian presence in Washington, DC. That ambition was realized in October 2016, when the National Churchill Library and Center (NCLC) at The George Washington University opened.

Because Churchill was a man of true historic importance, we designed the library to reflect his august legacy in a new and modern way.

The NCLC occupies 5,800 square feet within the university’s Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library. It is the first research facility in the United States dedicated to the study of Winston Churchill, and it currently houses 2,000 volumes.

In addition to study rooms and exhibition space, the NCLC includes staff offices and event space and offers a wide array of programming inspired by the center’s namesake. The many NCLC speakers  thus far include General David Petraeus, Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Daniel Mulhall, and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

“Having the Churchill Library in the center of Washington is symbolically very important, given the fact that Winston Churchill’s legacy remains so vital to many people in positions of leadership,” said Michael F. Bishop, director of the NCLC. “There’s something compelling about having this only five blocks from the Oval Office.”


The idea for the NCLC originated with the ICS (formerly known as the Churchill Centre), which was founded in 1968 and is the premier membership organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Sir Winston Churchill. The ICS had long desired a permanent home for Churchill studies in Washington, and found an enthusiastic partner in The George Washington University, which had underutilized space in the Gelman Library.

Infusing a space with the personality of a historic figure was familiar territory for Ayers Saint Gross. Our firm designed both the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mt. Vernon and the Visitor Center & Smith Education Center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

In the case of the NCLC, the challenge was to create a “building within a building” at the existing library. The project demanded a collaborative, interdisciplinary design team that included architects, interior designers, and graphic designers.

At the project’s outset, members of our design team traveled to England in search of inspiration. We visited Chartwell, Churchill’s country estate in Kent, which provided some key colors and tones that made their way into our final design.

During our research trip, we also explored the Churchill War Rooms, a WWII-era London bunker that now serves as a museum. The War Rooms are a key precedent for the NCLC. The space set aside within the Gelman Library for the project was below grade, not unlike the War Room’s subterranean location. To create new volume and add height to the NCLC’s long and narrow space, the ceiling was left exposed and painted a dark tone.

“The design of the space is attractive and striking, a sleek silvery space. The exposed ceiling is suggestive of the Cabinet War Rooms in London, which I like very much,” Bishop said. “The NCLC is very distinct from the rest of the building, and distinct from the area immediately outside it.”

The NCLC features  a fritted glass entryway that balances visibility and privacy. Our team also designed a wordmark for the NCLC and some interior signage. The result is a richly layered design that draws visitors into the space.

In addition to Chartwell and the War Rooms, our design had another distinctly Churchillian inspiration: his signature cigar. Churchill often smoked Romeo y Julietas, a brand with a distinctive red band that encircled a brown wrapper. Drawing on that color palette, we created high-gloss red thresh holds embedded within dark wood walls.

Churchill’s love of cigars also inspired another major NCLC design feature: the “cigar.” This three-dimensional element divides the center into a more publicly oriented event space near the entrance and smaller, more private spaces for staff and individual study in the back. The warm walnut panels also have an acoustical function, separating the public-facing space from the quiet work and gallery area.


Today the NCLC is open 24 hours a day to The George Washington University community, and to the public five days a week. In addition to the library’s primary collection, the library features a touch-screen exhibit that allows visitors to see photographs and documents from Churchill’s life. This interactive element drew inspiration from a similar exhibit in the Churchill War Rooms in London. The chance to engage with Churchill’s life and legacy so far from his homeland is a draw for scholars and tourists alike.

“We’re a very unusual resource in that we offer visitors a unique glimpse into the life and career of Winston Churchill right in the heart of Washington, DC. We do that with books, documents, artifacts, and other exhibits, as well as outstanding programming with very prominent speakers,” Bishop said.

The design, construction, and ribbon cutting of the NCLC happened on a tight schedule. The project’s kickoff meeting was in June 2014 and it had to be completed before the end of 2016..

The grand opening was held on October 29, 2016. Speaking at the event, Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s great-grandson, remarked of the importance of the project: “The opening of Churchill’s permanent home in your nation’s capital is truly a thrilling moment. I am more confident than ever that Churchill’s legacy will now be secure in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


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.

SITES 101: Creating Sustainable Landscapes

December 20, 2017

Most people connected to the AEC industry are by now well familiar with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED, the world’s most widely used green building rating system.

Less familiar to many is the Sustainable Sites Initiative, aka SITES. SITES is, broadly, LEED for landscape. The rating is a way of helping designers set and reach sustainability goals with clients. The system was developed through an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects Fund, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. After a rigorous testing period, the program was transferred to Green Business Certification, Inc (GBCI) in 2015. It’s a relatively new force in sustainability for the built environment, and in my opinion, it’s a powerful one. I am excited about how SITES can help create a holistic approach to sustainability in the built environment.

Every SITES prerequisite or credit is based on the idea of ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the benefits we receive from natural systems, comprised of both the living and the nonliving components of the landscape. SITES sorts these benefits into four categories: provisioning, supporting, regulating, and cultural. Below are more details on these categories and some suggestions for how designers and clients can thoughtfully approach the SITES certification process.

  • Provisioning. Any useful product produced by the landscape would be the result of a provisioning system. These products include food, lumber, energy supplies, medicines, and similar items. These credits can be earned through a variety of approaches such as incorporating edible gardens, or using local quarries for stone elements on a site.
  • Supporting. Supporting systems keep ecosystems healthy. They include soil formation, photosynthesis, habitat creation, and biodiversity. Credits for supporting can be reached through both design intervention and preservation. Much of the program focuses on preserving healthy soils and ecosystems that would take years of in-situ cultivation to recreate. Improving degraded sites through soil remediation and using native planting to improve habitat value are another way to earn credits.
  • Regulating. Regulating systems produce benefits by maintain larger systems through carbon sequestration, local and global climate regulation, and water and air cleansing. A common regulating technique is the use of bioretention and filtration to clean water and recharge the water table. Biofiltration facilities allow stormwater management infrastructure to function in a healthy way rather than adding to city storm water systems. These systems can often add a cultural value as well by improving the aesthetic of a place.
  • Cultural. This category includes a wide range of tactical choices, like outdoor exercise and gathering spaces, highlighting local icons, and healthy benefits. It’s everything from the creation of a healing garden near a hospital to the inclusion of native plants in a landscape design.

Personally, the thing that excites me most about the SITES system (and about being the first SITES AP at Ayers Saint Gross) is the ability to help a landscape project improve a place’s ecological functioning. Living landscapes are unique for their ability to recharge systems and can make a place function better than before intervention. Too often we see a LEED certified building that is a sustainable island in a landscape that doesn’t support the same high-performance objectives. SITES is a terrific tool to help align the development and management of land with innovative sustainable design.

2017 Comparing Historic Campus Plans

July 7, 2017
Comparing Campusus SCUP 2017

Continuing the tradition begun in 1998, Ayers Saint Gross has published a new Comparing Campuses poster for 2017. Over the years, we have explored hundreds of campus plans from leading institutions around the world. We assemble this collection as a tool for institutional planners in the belief that understanding campus organization and data will lead to the creation of even better spaces in which to live, learn, and teach. We understand the importance of research, and believe that sharing our research contributes to creating better campuses.

In 2016, our Comparing Campuses poster explored Innovation Districts, communities that align academia, government, and the private sector. These mixed-use districts offer an exciting glimpse into the future of science, business, and urbanism.

For 2017, we’re turning our attention to the past, and specifically to the ways that universities grow and change. This year’s Comparing Campuses poster highlights historic campus master plans and their relationships to their respective campuses today.

The history of an institution makes for fascinating study, and can inform future planning. In some cases, all the originally planned buildings are still part of campus. In others, none of the original buildings have survived the march of time (or were never built at all). We hope you enjoy seeing how the 11 campuses featured on the 2017 poster evolved over years, decades, and even centuries.

If you won’t be at SCUP, please email us at comparingcampuses@asg-architects.com and we’ll be happy to send you a copy. Additionally, for almost 20 years, Ayers Saint Gross has gathered data on the physical characteristics of campuses for our Comparing Campuses posters. The collection now exceeds 200 campuses, and is available on our website. Visit us there, or at booth 403 at SCUP 2017 to claim your copy. We hope to see you in Washington, and look forward to discussing the past, present, and future of campus planning.

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.

Green Week 2017: The Carrot Awards

April 17, 2017

Ayers Saint Gross strives to make every project as energy efficient as possible. We’re signatories of the AIA2030 Commitment, and each year we report on the predicted energy use intensity of our whole building projects and the lighting power density of our interiors projects. Reducing both advances us toward our goal of designing net-zero projects across our design portfolio by 2030.

To keep our eyes on the prize and recognize Green Week 2017, we’re celebrating two projects – one whole building and one interior – with the Carrot Awards. Too often designers think of sustainability goals as a “stick,” something they have to do that’s at odds with good design. But for us, sustainability is a carrot. It’s something we reach for, something that inspires great design. The projects recognized by this year’s Green Week are examples for design teams across our firm to emulate in pursuit of sustainable design excellence.

This year’s whole building Carrot Award goes to Washington University in St. Louis’s Bryan Hall.

Bryan Hall is the renovation of approximately 49,000 GSF of existing 1968 laboratories for Washington University’s chemistry department. The project reuses more than 60% of the existing structural components while bringing in new building systems, infrastructure, and a vibration-sensitive design to support instrument-based chemistry. Laboratories are an energy-intensive program, but modeling predicts this project will use 55% less energy than the baseline laboratory.

To achieve these energy savings, KJWW Engineering (now IMEG) designed HVAC systems to serve laboratory, public, and restroom spaces separately so systems could be tailored to each type of space’s unique needs. Most of the laboratories require six air changes per hour to maintain high indoor air quality, but heating or cooling that air for once-through use would be very expensive and energy-intensive. To minimize that demand, laboratory exhaust air is routed through a sensible-only heat recovery system which pre-conditions outdoor air before it enters air handling units. Public spaces have different HVAC demands and are provided supply air as required to meet heating and cooling needs.

The building’s two laser research areas require constant temperature and maximum relative humidity conditions. These spaces are served by separate constant-volume air handling units that can optimally meet those conditions. Electrical and IT rooms on each floor are served by a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) system for local space conditioning.

This year’s interiors Carrot Award goes to our tenant improvement work for Tishman Speyer at Park Place, floors six and nine. This commercial office space in Arlington, Virginia includes multiple office suites and decreases lighting power density by 57%, more than double the current AIA2030 reduction target, through LED lighting.

We announced these awards today to kick off Green Week 2017, our firm’s annual celebration of high-performance design and sustainability. The week’s activities include internal and external luncheon speakers, trivia questions on our internal knowledge-sharing platform, and the Carrot Awards to get us inspired to create ever-more energy efficient design solutions.

For more on how Ayers Saint Gross approaches sustainable design, see our firm’s sustainability strategy, Take Action.

Transforming Sustainability at Texas A&M

March 24, 2017

When Texas A&M decided to update its 2004 campus master plan with a team of Ayers Saint Gross planners, six integrated focus elements guided the work:

  • Campus Development
  • Mobility and Safety
  • Sustainability and Wellness
  • Campus Guidelines
  • Heritage Conservation
  • Wayfinding and Signage

My role on the team was most closely aligned with Sustainability and Wellness, and our firm’s work in this area is the subject of a session I’ll be co-presenting with Texas A&M’s University Architect, Lilia Gonzales, and Director of Sustainability, Kelly Wellman at the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference on March 27. I’m excited about digging into the integrated approach that Texas A&M has taken in planning its campus.

A selection of Texas A&M’s planning work between 2004 and the 2017 Campus Master Plan includes:

  • Sustainability Master Plan
  • Bicycle District Strategic Plan
  • Energy Action Plan
  • Utility and Energy Master Plan
  • Stormwater Management Program
  • District Plans to Direct Physical Development
  • Biennial Sustainability Progress Reports
  • AASHE STARS Report

Each of these elements informed the vision for a sustainable campus that is integrated throughout the 2017 Campus Master Plan to facilitate transformation across the campus community. Coordinating these efforts under a single master plan will clarify Texas A&M’s visions of a sustainable campus and support the transformative ideas the institution has for its campus.

Among other subjects, the Sustainability and Wellness portion of the 2017 Campus Mater Plan includes initiatives about:

  • Building on the success of the recent upgrades to the campus central heat and power plant to continue reductions in energy demand and GHG emissions
  • Managing stormwater with green infrastructure
  • Improving pedestrian mobility across the university’s large campus footprint
  • Developing greater connectivity for the bicycle network both on and off campus
  • Continuing the transition from interior surface lots to perimeter parking garages
  • Advancing the institution’s stated objective of designing LEED Silver equivalent buildings to a more A&M-specific set of high-performance design requirements
  • Progressing the deployment of universal recycling containers on campus
  • Celebrating Texas A&M’s historic legacy while furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts
  • Increasing opportunities for education, outreach, and engagement

Hope to see you at Smart and Sustainable!

Eating the Whale: Equity in Architecture

February 15, 2017

To illustrate the very serious task of fighting for equity, AIA San Francisco’s Equity by Design Committee uses the poem “Melinda Mae” by children’s author Shel Silverstein:

Have you heard of Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said, “You’re much too small,”
But that didn’t bother Melinda at all.

She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a good girl should…
…And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale
Because she said she would!

We in the architecture profession have slowly been “eating the whale” for more than 100 years, regarding the task of getting more women and minorities into the profession. There have been some great milestones along the way, including:

  • In 1881, Louise Bethune became the first professional female architect. (Like me, Bethune was from the great city of Buffalo, New York.)
  • In 1923, Paul Revere Williams became the first African American AIA member. He was also the first black architect elected into the College of Fellows and is this year’s AIA Gold Medal winner. He is the first black architect to be honored the AIA’s highest award.
  • Lou Weller said to be the first Native American architect* and was the first Native American awarded the AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award in 2000. Today, Native Americans represent less than 1% of licensed architects.

Despite these achievements, architecture still lacks diversity. As of 2014, 22% of licensed architects are female, 2% are African American, and 3% are Latino. That’s not great for a 136 year timespan. More than 50% of students enrolled in architecture schools are non-white, meaning that in five to 10 years, we should see this diversity reflected in our workplaces. But relying on diversity to happen over time only is not enough.

The Equity in Architecture Commission is the vehicle that creates a greater urgency within the profession (and AEC community at large). The percentages will continue to grow at a snail’s pace until the profession allows all of its members to flourish. We must create equitable and inclusive practices to encourage individuals from underrepresented groups to get licensed, remain in the profession, and ultimately thrive. Pushing for equitable practice will create the surge needed to make the diversity of our firms reflect the diversity of the clients and communities we serve. Hopefully, it will take less than another 136 years.

The Equity in Architecture Commission was approved in May 2015, as a result of the Resolution 15-1, approved in May 2015. The commission is a call to action for both women and men to realize the goal of equitable practice in order to retain talent, advance the architecture profession, and communicate the value of design to society. With increasingly greater numbers of women and minorities in architecture schools, it is vital that AIA addresses this opportunity to foster and support a more inclusive workforce across the profession.

The commission serves as the framework for developing a well-conceived and thoughtful action plan and set of recommendations. The initial charge of the 22-person commission, of which I was proud to be a member, was to:

  • Develop specific recommendations that will lead to equitable practices
  • Create measurable goals and develop mechanisms for assessing ongoing process
  • Present a plan of action based on the commission’s recommendations

Dr. Shirley Davis who specializes in organization transformation, diversity and inclusion, implicit bias, and strategic development, facilitated the commission. We started by asking, “When we achieve equity in architecture, what does it look it?”

The question prompted hundreds of responses, which were then categorized into five topic areas:

  1. Education and Career Development
  2. Leadership Excellence (within AIA and the profession)
  3. Firm/Workplace/Studio Culture
  4. Marketing, Branding, Public Awareness, and Outreach
  5. Better Architecture

We then focused on these five areas for the remainder of the year, creating actionable items that could create change in both the short and long terms.

All of the recommendations and initiatives are being compiled into a final report which will act as a road map for equitable practice. For the next three years, the commission has recommended the following eleven initiatives which were approved by the AIA National Board of Directors in December 2015:

  1. Equity, diversity and inclusion as a core value for the board of directors
  2. Measure and report how equity, diversity and inclusion permeates within the AIA
  3. Equity, diversity and inclusion training for AIA volunteers and components
  4. Guides for equitable, diverse and inclusionary practice
  5. Create a firm self-assessment tool
  6. Position paper on equity, diversity and inclusion and the profession
  7. Collect equity, diversity and inclusion data of project teams, firms and clients on work submitted for AIA Awards
  8. Advocate for equity in higher education
  9. Engage and expose kids to architecture through K-12 programs
  10. Tell our stories
  11. Ensure media reflects diverse range of architects

To download the entire Equity in Architecture report, click here.

My experience on the Equity Commission was one of the most fulfilling things I have done professionally. The Equity Commission was charged with taking action and making real change. As a Millennial, this was music to my ears. I’m encouraged that the eleven initiatives will make real, long-lasting change in the profession.

There are so many great resources out there to read (architecture and non-architecture related) and get involved in the conversation. Here are five to you get started:

I’d like to end this post with a challenge for everyone: imagine if Melinda Mae had help eating the whale. She could have accomplished her task faster, and had more fun doing it!

If everyone takes a bite out of the whale, we can achieve equitable practice much more rapidly. This is a conversation must be inclusive of everyone that everyone must join.

For anyone who is more interested in hearing more about the eleven initiatives, please do not hesitate to reach out! You can reach me at LGraff@asg-architects.com. Let’s eat that whale together.

* AIA did not begin collecting data on race and ethnicity until 2000.

Built to Last: Creating Comprehensive Interior Designs

February 13, 2017

As a firm with more than a century’s worth of history, Ayers Saint Gross understands that design must stand the test of time. Working mostly with large institutional clients, we create enduring interior designs from a thoughtful pursuit of functional, beautiful, and durable selections. We balance our established knowledge of the tried and true with an eye towards the industry’s innovations and improvements to produce the best possible results. Here’s how we do it.

1. Developing good relationships with vendors who can work at scale. The Interiors team at Ayers Saint Gross has deep knowledge of quality products and is in contact with the industry’s best representatives. We take the vetting of our vendors seriously. It’s not unlike a job interview. Can your product meet or exceed the benchmarks of our and our clients’ standards of design?

In addition to a product’s performance, aesthetics, and contents, we also assess the principles of the manufacturers and expertise of their representatives. They are among the experts we consult to verify industry standards and to advocate for best design measures. This working relationship helps develop our acumen in materials before we propose solutions to our clients.

In the event of complications during or after installation, our vendors will be proactive in assisting our projects with attainable resolutions. We have to have confidence in them, so our clients can have confidence in us.

2. Building and maintaining a materials library. Even with a lot of electronic options for browsing products, Ayers Saint Gross maintains material libraries in our offices. We’re curious here, and we like to research and investigate. We compare, and we shop for quality.

Besides the ease of having samples on hand, our libraries are interactive ‘sketchbooks’ for materials. Collections continuously evolve, and they literally display our enthusiasm to study and innovate. Since many of our clients have facilities departments with their own materials libraries, we appreciate opportunities to collaborate on current preferences and valuable lessons learned that design standards documents might not provide. Information sharing is a two-way street, too; often clients use our product knowledge and libraries as resources in developing their own collections.

Industry experts also know the importance of our libraries and visit regularly to update holdings and canvass needs. In addition to keeping our libraries current, this contact strengthens Ayers Saint Gross’ voice (among other national design firms) to ensure our clients’ goals are represented as manufacturers improve and develop products. (We are excited about plans to make the libraries easier to navigate and access remotely. Stay tuned!)

3. Finding quality materials and using them correctly. Even quality materials can fail if they are misunderstood or installed poorly. The range of materials with which we work and the significance of the materials we select has never been greater. Our clients’ interests in interior design are many, including: demonstrating an investment in their communities, supporting branding and marketing campaigns, and streamlining maintenance practices. As a result, interior design is constantly changing where options, adaptability, and maintainability are among the indicators of quality work.

Our deep experience in higher education, designing residence halls, libraries, and other high-use buildings, has taught us the importance of longevity and durability. Materials are viewed and touched throughout an occupant’s day, placing our selections front and center for continuous evaluation and assessment of a project’s overall quality.

Clients have long memories, and may retain a bias against certain materials, colors, or designs based on past experiences. Often a material alone does not fail; rather, a non-standard application or low quality installation caused problems. The Interiors team at Ayers Saint Gross investigates materials and their applications to weigh the pros and cons. Our design process includes a systems-based approach to assess a material’s compatibility with other material selections, and evaluate its constructability in combination with other materials.

4. Listening to clients. The pop culture idea of an interior designer is usually someone who sweeps into a meeting with a pre-existing vision. This is pretty much the opposite of how Ayers Saint Gross approaches interiors.

Our design process begins with client-specific research and questions followed by very close listening to what our clients say. If we’re creating a common area in a residence hall, should it be energetic and bright? Or do the students need a more subdued space for relaxation and recharging? Once we understand a client’s goals and hopes, we can use our knowledge of a project’s context, architecture, and cost-modeling to evaluate and advise, envision and create, and transform spaces into places.

We host collaborative moments for our clients to contribute and respond to schematic ideas that help inform the next steps. This nurtures a creative partnership that distinguishes a project as client-specific vs. trend-specific only. Eventually, a fully formed design emerges from team vision. Clients notice when they see their comments realized in a completed project and our work to discuss and listen proves to be a wise investment in (and by) Ayers Saint Gross. This shared effort sparks enthusiasm in the success and endurance of our service and projects.