2017 Comparing Historic Campus Plans

July 7, 2017
Comparing Campusus SCUP 2017
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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
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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.


ASSOCIATE PRINCIPALS


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.


SENIOR ASSOCIATES


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.


Chip Young, CID NCIDQ LEED AP ID+C
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.  


ASSOCIATES


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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

The Season of Giving

December 21, 2016
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As 2016 draws to a close, we reflect on the Ayers Saint Gross mission statement: “We engage people and places to create designs that enrich the world.”

As a firm, we strive to make the world a better place through our designs and through service in our community. Real change takes real effort, a willingness to get involved and the strength of a team that shares those goals.

One of Ayers Saint Gross’ longest philanthropic relationships, now in its 18th year, is our commitment to Beechfield Elementary/Middle School in West Baltimore. In addition to drives for school supplies, canned goods, and books, our firm participates in a six-week introduction to design seminar with Beechfield students. At the last session, the students come to our office to do design exercises and to receive certificates of completion and “honorary designer” business cards. In 2017, we aim to strengthen this relationship even more, by helping students map out the path from high school to college to real design careers.

Ayers Saint Gross is also a strong supporter of the United Way. In addition to our financial contributions, we sponsored a Day of Action, during which several staffers volunteered at My Sister’s Place serving women and children in need. One of our most beloved firm traditions is the annual Chili Cook-Off – a crossroads of giving back and strengthening our team culture. We are active in the greater Phoenix community, helping to build a playground for Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, making donations to the Tempe Mission, and more. We participate in (PARK)ing Day, celebrating green spaces in the urban environment.

Most recently, we won a Mayor’s Business Recognition Award for planning work in East Baltimore. In partnership with the Southern Baptist Church and other stakeholders, we began with two kick-off workshops in April and continued with a design charrette in September. Ayers Saint Gross designers facilitated these meetings, engaging with community members and teaching the value of thoughtful planning, successful placemaking, and sustainable neighborhood development. A final community meeting will occur in January 2017.

We hope that the successful conclusion of that project is the first of many opportunities we’ll have in 2017 to engage, create, and enrich. The new year will be full of innovative thinking and problem-solving, as well as investment in people and places. We look forward to the many good things that are to come, at our firm and in the communities we serve.

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

December 16, 2016
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It’s been an eventful year for Ayers Saint Gross. As we turn the calendar page, here’s a look at our most popular blog posts of 2016. We’re proud of what we accomplished with our clients, and are excited about what’s to come in 2017.

1. Luanne Greene is Ayers Saint Gross’ New President. Having distinguished herself as head of our Planning studio and as an acknowledged industry leader, Luanne rose to become the President of Ayers Saint Gross. She is the first woman to lead the firm in its 100-year history.

2. Anne Hicks Harney Elevated to AIA College of Fellows. Our Sustainability Director is now one of four FAIAs at Ayers Saint Gross, alongside Glenn Birx, Luanne Greene, and Adam Gross. Anne was also named a LEED Fellow this year.

3. Placemaking for People: How Stormwater Management Can Be a Design Asset. The unglamorous necessity of stormwater management can be a starting point for truly great design in landscape architecture.

4. Place Matters: Cortex Innovation Community Wins SCUP Award. Recognition from the Society of College and University Planning was a huge honor. Innovation Districts like Cortex provide a new paradigm for research, business, and job creation.

5. National Aquarium Waterfront Campus Plan Wins AIA Maryland Award. The National Aquarium is a world-renowned conservation organization, and we are excited to be a part of the revitalization of its campus.

6. 2016 Comparing Campuses Innovation Districts. We did a deep dive on Innovation Districts in our 18th annual Comparing Campuses poster. (We also have an online archive of all the Comparing Campuses posters.)

7. A Brief History of the Ayers Saint Gross ACUHO-I Housing Book. We’ve been creating these tiny but informative books since 2005 for the annual ACUHO-I conference. We’ll see you in Providence in June with the 2017 edition.

8. Telling a Story with Data. Lisa Keith, head of our Space Analytics studio, wowed the KA Connect Conference with her data visualization expertise.

9. Ayers Saint Gross Reaches $1B in LEED Construction. With the LEED Silver certification of Georgetown University’s Ryan and Isaac Halls, our firm crossed the billion-dollar mark in LEED certified construction. To celebrate, we created an infographic that illustrates exactly what $1,000,000,000 in LEED construction looks like.

10. Going Green, Staying Green: How to Create and Enduring, Sustainable Landscape. Align your sustainability goals with available resources, and consider the life cycle costs of your choices.

National Library for the Study of George Washington Wins AIA Design Awards

December 6, 2016
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Ayers Saint Gross is pleased to announce that the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon recently received two awards: an Excellence in Design honor from AIA Baltimore and a Merit Award for Institutional Architecture from AIA Maryland.

The 45,000 square-foot library, located on 15 acres within walking distance of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, serves as a national archive for his books and letters and as a center for education and scholarly retreat. The AIA Baltimore jury praised the design as “both traditional and crisp, pared down, and abstracted. It is grand, but also shows humility, appropriately reflecting George Washington.”

Additionally, the AIA Maryland jury called it “a well-conceived project that honors the Washington legacy with a timeless, well-scaled building.”

The design complements the Mount Vernon estate by incorporating qualities that are familiar and appropriate, but without literal form or material reference. It creates a timeless place that is elegant, ordered, and principled. These qualities allow the Library and grounds to be, in subtle ways, both reflective of Washington’s character and connected to the place.

Visitors approach the Library via a gently winding drive through the woodland site. The drive leads to an arrival court inspired by the geometry of the mansion’s gardens and defined by low stone walls. Native deciduous and evergreen plantings supplement the existing forest and drifts of George Washington’s favorite trees, including dogwoods and redbuds, adding spring and fall interest. Visual and physical connections to the land were key design priorities. Preserving open spaces and trees, and generally creating a sustainable site, reflects Washington’s legacy as a landowner and a farmer. The project achieved LEED Gold certification.

The U-shaped building fulfills the dual goals of scholarly study and educational outreach. A sunny, south-facing courtyard is defined on the east by an education wing that provides spaces for seminars, lectures, and training programs on George Washington’s life, times, and leadership. The west wing provides two floors of office space for visiting scholars and staff.

At its core, and the heart of the design, is the light-filled, two-story reading room with paneled walls of American Sycamore, a tree that grows at Mount Vernon.

The Washington family’s collection of books and papers are kept safe in the rare books and manuscripts room, a sequence of three increasingly secure spaces that culminate in an oval vault.

The project’s materials express permanence and dignity. The central portion of the building is clad in sandstone and limestone, and the wings are finished in stucco. Zinc-clad eaves, soffits, and porches accent slate roofs. Windows and doors are made of mahogany and the terraces and porches are paved with sandstone.

From a 1797 letter to his friend James McHenry, we know that George Washington hoped to build a library on his estate for his papers, but that dream was never realized until now. Ayers Saint Gross is proud that we were able to play a role in preserving the legacy of America’s first president, and are honored that AIA Baltimore and AIA Maryland both recognized our efforts.

Small Wonder: Baltimore Visitor Center Wins ENR Mid-Atlantic Award

November 29, 2016
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We’re pleased to announce that the Baltimore Visitor Center won Best Small Project from ENR Mid-Atlantic. The renovation updated the 12-year-old building to incorporate modern technology to serve its 400,000 annual visitors during daytime hours. The design also includes a more flexible layout that allows the BVC to be transformed into a revenue-generating event space at night.

Typically, a visitor center is designed more for tourists than for city residents. But with the possibility of using this beautiful waterfront location as an event space for special occasions, it becomes a space of gathering and celebration for Baltimoreans as well.

To achieve that kind of flexibility, we developed a concept of completely mobile displays. The custom millwork gives daytime visitors easy access to information they need, and then the displays can be moved and stored for evening events.

The installation of “Seagrass” by local artists McCormack and Figg required a long lead time, but the results speak for themselves. It’s a wonderful piece with a shape that echoes the aquatic grasses of the Chesapeake Bay, and it can be lit in many different ways, from customized animation sequences to holiday colors to (of course) orange and purple for the Orioles and Ravens.

Along with our partners at Wohlsen Construction, we completed the project on a tight deadline in conjunction with the inaugural Light City festival, which opened on March 31, 2016. The debut was a success, as you can see in this video. We’re glad that the Baltimore Visitor Center had such a great beginning to what is sure to be a long tenure as a centerpiece for the city.

National Aquarium Waterfront Campus Plan Wins AIA Maryland Award

October 27, 2016
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Ayers Saint Gross is pleased to announce that the Waterfront Campus Plan for the National Aquarium in Baltimore recently won a 2016 AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Honor Award for Urban Design and Master Planning. The jury lauded the design for “creating dynamic, welcoming, educational public space while restoring ecosystems and providing a living lab as a model toward resiliency in the built and natural environment.”

Our team proposed a design for the 2.5 acre space between Piers 3 and 4 in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor that challenges existing urban waterfront models. It merges aquatic and terrestrial communities by softening existing engineered bulkhead barriers, including amphitheaters, vegetation shelves, and an oyster reef that serves as a natural water filtration system.

“Located on the historic piers of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium is ideally situated for demonstrating how its conservation mission can be applied at its own doorstep,” Jonathan Ceci, PLA, Director of Landscape Architecture, said.

Our Waterfront Campus plan also highlights the water’s movement with a network of floating wetlands that return native plants to the Inner Harbor. The design team gave careful analysis to ephemeral conditions like tides and how those conditions affect the user experience. The result is a series of installations that engage visitors and connect them with authentic Chesapeake Bay watershed habitat. The design advances the economic success of the Inner Harbor and of the entire city of Baltimore with renewed civic infrastructure.

The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. It welcomes an average of 1.3 million visitors annually. The Waterfront Campus Plan is expected to be fully implemented by 2019.

“Ayers Saint Gross’ work on behalf of the National Aquarium and our waterfront campus is deserving of this award,” said Jacqueline Bershad, National Aquarium Vice President of Planning and Design. “Our vision – one we are diligently working to bring to life with Ayers Saint Gross – is that the Waterfront Campus will be an accessible green space for people of all ages to engage with and enjoy.”

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

Vertex Student Apartments Wins AIA Arizona and ENR Southwest Awards

October 19, 2016
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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.

aia-arizona-vertex-award

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.

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