34 Years Transforming the Student Experience: Principal Eric Moss Retires

May 27, 2021
Colby College, Alfond Commons
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Architect and Principal Eric Moss’ work has shown how architecture can elevate experience and embody mission. After a 34-year career at Ayers Saint Gross, Eric is retiring from the firm in June of 2021. As a respected architect and thought leader focused on higher education, he devoted his career to designing spaces that elevate the holistic student experience. Among his notable projects are new student housing villages at Emory University, Clemson University, the University of Virginia, Goucher College, the University of Delaware, and Virginia Commonwealth University. His other transformational projects include the Rams Head Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Alfond Commons at Colby College, and Whittle-Johnson and Pyon-Chen Halls at the University of Maryland, where he serves as a member of the Architecture and Landscape Review Board.

Ayers Saint Gross via Camden Yards

Eric’s path to Ayers Saint Gross began in the summer of 1986. Upon returning to the United States after a graduate year abroad in Florence, he worked for an architectural firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While attending a baseball game at Fenway Park, he became fascinated with the Green Monster’s remarkable height, a contextual response to the short distance between home plate and Lansdowne Street: the left-field wall had to be tall enough to make a homerun a challenge. His interest in the Green Monster’s site-specific impact was the genesis of his thesis, a distinctive baseball stadium responding to its context. Around the same time, Eric learned the Baltimore Orioles were looking at sites for a new baseball stadium. He visited the city and saw the B&O Warehouse, a massive 1,116-foot brick structure near the Inner Harbor, on one of the more than 20 potential sites. Preserving the warehouse and incorporating it into the new stadium became the focus of his thesis and eventual move to Baltimore to pursue a career at Ayers Saint Gross.

In the July 8, 1993 The Baltimore Sun article “Unsung heroes of Camden Yards,” Edward Gunts wrote, “One of the first real hints of what a Camden Yards ballpark might look like came from Eric Moss, a Syracuse University student who designed one in 1987 for his…architecture thesis. The scale model he brought to town after graduation presented an alluring vision of a ballpark that opens up to the city, providing sweeping views of the downtown skyline. In many ways it presaged the current ballpark, down to the curved seating bowl and recycled warehouse behind right field.”

Impact on Higher Education and Student Life

Eric’s creative vision and thoughtful design approach has endured in all his work. As Ayers Saint Gross grew and shifted its focus to higher education planning and design in the 1990s, Eric dedicated his career to designing student life and academic buildings—with a particular focus on transforming the student housing experience on campuses. He immersed himself in the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I), the preeminent organization supporting the on-campus residential experience. He saw an opportunity to elevate the student experience by shifting the paradigm of student housing design from a dormitory, a place for sleep, to a residence hall, a place where students can live, learn, and thrive in a supportive community. His design philosophy focused on connecting people to each other and to an institution at as many scales as possible, creating a richness of experience that leads to lifelong engagement and success. His projects realize mission in built form.

A Vision for the Future

As Eric moves forward into his well-deserved retirement, his impact is long-lasting. Over the past several decades, Eric has cultivated and worked side-by-side with a passionate team of interdisciplinary designers (architects, landscape architects, interior designers, graphic designers, and planners) who have collaborated with clients to program, plan, and design more than 185,000 beds and a range of vibrant academic and student life spaces on campuses around the world. That team includes individuals from all three Ayers Saint Gross offices in Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Tempe, including Alice Brooks, Linnea Kessler-Gowell, Michelle Kollmann, Dennis Lynch, Cooper Melton, Eric Zahn, Eric Zobrist, and many others who share his philosophy of mission-driven design. Eric has been a colleague, mentor, and friend to many and will remain a trusted advisor for years to come.

Gunts, E. (1993, July 8). Unsung heroes of Camden Yards. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved from http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1993-07-08-1993189053-story.html

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Campus

August 17, 2020
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Colleges and universities are making significant changes to the configuration and operations of their campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are grappling with the same questions and assessing what it means for the future.

Ayers Saint Gross has always believed in sharing research with our college and university clients. In June 2020, we sent a survey to individuals in the academic, administrative, facilities, and student life departments of higher educational institutions across the United States. We wanted to gather insights about how back-to-campus strategy might impact forward-looking decisions about campus development. We asked questions about classrooms, workplace, student life facilities, the efficacy of remote operations, and the impacts of the pandemic on financial and strategic priorities.

All campuses can reflect on resiliency in light of the insights outlined in the report below. What is it that makes your institution distinctive? What aspects of this crisis threaten your ability to deliver on that offering? What creative opportunities exist to minimize those disruptions? How can you position yourself to be more resilient in the future? These are questions that may not be answerable immediately, but they are critical.

We hope this summary provides a window into the experience of planning for the future of college and university campuses during this uncertain time.