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

Post-Pandemic Campus Design Insights

April 15, 2021
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As part of their reporting on the impact of COVID-19 on higher education campuses, The Chronicle of Higher Education reached out to Shannon Dowling, Luanne Greene, and Dennis Lynch for their expertise. In the recent article, “The Pandemic May Have Permanently Altered Campuses. Here’s How,” they share their insights on the ways the pandemic has accelerated trends, what changes may be long-term, and how institutions are rethinking academic, office, and student life spaces to better serve the student population in the future.

Read the article here.

Announcing 2021 Promotions

March 30, 2021
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As a resilient, employee-owned design firm, Ayers Saint Gross is always looking toward the future. We embrace change, overcome obstacles, and grow together.

Challenges inspire us to learn and innovate. Ayers Saint Gross thrived in 2020 because project teams found new ways to remain collaborative while working from home, and thought leaders guided our clients through complexity with confidence. These are accomplishments made possible by people — by individuals contributing and giving their all for one another. We saw the dynamism and strength of our employees as people were forced out of their comfort zones and as individuals rose to the occasion.

We are dedicated to being interdisciplinary and ensuring that diverse and unique skillsets are supported. This is how we get stronger and add value for our clients.

The following quotes are a sampling of words written in support of colleagues’ promotions, offered entirely to recognize and uplift others.


On Bold Vision:

“She demonstrates a high level of passion and commitment to shaping the future. She has gained the trust of teammates and clients and is deeply committed to excellence and pushing forward.”

“She is a super professional, unshakable, responsible leader who truly understands where we are and where are are going. She perseveres and always faces challenges head-on with a solution-oriented mind.”


On Client Service:
“They have demonstrated a sincere commitment to ensuring that each project results in an excellent outcome for the client, and consistently goes above and beyond to see the work to completion. They excel at connecting with clients, who represent a diverse mix of institutions.”

“Her engagement with clients is superb, and they look to her for advice and guidance. She has set a high bar for others to follow. Her dedication is a tremendous asset.”


On Leadership:
“He excels in design at every scale and serves as a mentor for others. His projects are award winning, and he always leaves an indelible mark. He continues to inspire us all and elevates every project he touches.”

“She has shown herself to be one of the strongest staff I have worked with. She shows a great work ethic, goes above and beyond regularly to take on additional tasks, and has an eagerness to grow and the ability to ever expand her knowledge.”


On the Interdisciplinary Spirit of the Firm:
“I have been extremely impressed with her work ethic, to work across all disciplines seamlessly (and effortlessly), and her own desire for growth and firm-wide knowledge-all in the spirit of making the firm better.”

“He has shown the ability to work at multiple levels, from planning to building. He has risen to be a true leader across all areas.”

“Their ability to manage multiple tasks and projects has shown her organization and drive. They jump into any task or project with enthusiasm and professionalism and has consistently receives praise. This attitude shows their one firm mentality and their constant desire to provide value.”


These promotions are not solely a reward for past work, but a vote of confidence for what they are going to do next. As we celebrate these individuals, we’re excited to discover what the future holds.

Principals
Alice Brooks
Tim Burkett
Sally Chinnis
Jon Eaton
Katy Hunchar
Jessica Leonard
Dan McKelvey
Glenn Neighbors
Kirsten Owings
Dana Perzynski
Amelle Schultz
Lindsay Story

Associate Principals
Jon Catania
Katarina Carlin
Amy Cuddy
Michelle Moseley
Greg Overkamp
Tarek Saleh
Jasmine Shah
Laura White
Eric Zahn

Senior Associates
Gintas Civinskas
Aaryne Elias
Scott Fundling
Kevin Jones
Nathan Korkki
Kirby Long
Daniel Lucenti
Jeff Phang
Sam Polinik
Corey Rothermel

Associates
Greta Arnold
J.J. Cao
Jeff Cheek
Sophie Habib
Chris Hazel
Amanda Hodgson
Angi Kwak
Paul Lancaster
Mike McGrain
Monica Retzke
Tim Shook
Tim Stapleton
Brittany Tasho
Evan Todtz
Greer Wendling

Mentorship Leaders

February 10, 2021
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In addition to being leaders on their design teams, many Ayers Saint Gross employees devote themselves to mentorship groups. We are happy to celebrate some of their leadership successes and the causes they support here.

At the beginning of the new year Beresford Pratt stepped into the role of Communications Director and Editor in Chief of “Connection,” the publication of the AIA National Young Architects Forum (YAF). This comes on the heels of a successful two-year term as a Young Architect Regional Director for the YAF.

The YAF is one of three membership groups in the AIA and focuses specifically on Architects and designers who have been licensed for fewer than ten years. With a mission-driven goal of promoting leadership, mentorship, and fellowship, the forum allows members to explore issues that emerging professionals are passionate about, and provides a valuable platform for them to help shape the industry in real-time.

One of Beresford’s greatest accomplishments as a Young Architect Regional Director was authoring and leading the effort for a toolkit on “how to start/grow an emerging professionals committee”.

“This toolkit examines how to start and grow an emerging professional program. We interviewed 8 chapters across the nation, getting a wide breadth of chapter sizes and locations. We were able to gain great insight into how chapters operate and what made them successful.  I was excited to hear we even had international interest from as far away as Singapore to help build their program.”

“Connection” is the YAF’s most outward facing communication tool, and it plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between local and national issues while creating discourse on the most demanding current topics.

“This past year has been a year like no other, and emerging professionals have been striving to tackle some big challenges within our profession, from climate action, practice innovation, and JEDI. One of the most dynamic tools we use to communicate is “Connection,” produced by emerging professionals with practical takeaways.”

While his new role may have a more national focus, we are proud to share Beresford’s recent article highlighting some of the local pipeline initiative work he and others at Ayers Saint Gross have championed. These initiatives exposed more students to the possibilities of a career in design at Beechfield Elementary School as well as mentorship in design with the Baltimore Design School.

Beresford currently sits on the board of the Baltimore chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects and is a key force in continuing Ayers Saint Gross’s relationship with United Way–he sits on the Emerging Leaders United council. He has recently joined the board of the Baltimore Design School.


Allison Wilson is the 2020 – 2021 Chair for the ACE Mentor Program of America’s Austin affiliate Board of Directors.

ACE provides opportunities for high school students to get an inside look at the architecture, construction, and engineering professions and future careers of which they might not otherwise be aware. The program includes approximately sixteen weeks of mentoring, field trips, and team-based project development.

Within their project teams, students identify what aspects of the design process are of greatest interest and cultivate both industry-specific design skills, such as how to read and document floor plans and construction budgets as well as transferrable skills like collaboration, negotiation, and public speaking.

Allison served as a mentor from 2016 – 2017 and was recognized as Mentor of the Year by her students before joining the board to not just deliver the program but help design it.

“I got involved with ACE to help students better navigate their professional ambitions. As a high school senior, I was handed a list of every accredited school of architecture in the United States and my parents and I had to figure out the various program types and applications ourselves, which was overwhelming. Chairing the board allows me to empower future architects, engineers, and contractors with information that allows them to make better informed decisions about their futures.”

While the past year has certainly had challenges, under Allison’s leadership the program successfully continued.

“We pivoted our whole program to a fully remote experience in 10 days. We have continued to meet every Thursday, just like always. Sessions in Spring 2020 were recorded and we cut together the student videos with support from Lost Note Productions to one final presentation that we showed during our live streamed party. Now, moving forward, we know we can do this and how.” The program hosted a mini-series in Fall 2020 and began its Spring 2021 program on February 4.


Principal Stephen Wright, AIA, was elected President of the Washington Architectural Foundation (WAF). Founded by the American Institute of Architects DC, the WAF focuses on outward-facing initiatives. This includes mentorships, public outreach, and community-oriented programs to open the world of design to a broader number of people. As a mission, the Washington Architectural Foundation is dedicated to educating and engaging the greater DC community, focusing on students, teachers, professionals, and the public to demonstrate the transformative power of architecture.

“This is our chance to get people excited about design and the world around them. Especially in a city like Washington DC, there are so many buildings to wonder ‘what does this mean?’ and ‘how did it get there?’ But it is most rewarding to focus on the next generation. We bring architecture to schools, and show opportunities exist that students may not even be aware of. We encourage people to think bigger, and I love to help raise the discourse in design.”


Read more about Ayers Saint Gross employees work outside of the office:

Amber Wendland Joins the Neighborhood Design Center Board of Directors
Elevating Design and Research Outside of the Office

Awards: 2020 in Review

December 17, 2020
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2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. While these challenges are never far from our minds, as the year draws to a close, we look too for moments of celebration. This year, Ayers Saint Gross projects were honored with more than 27 design awards, including 11 from the AIA and 4 from the ASLA. As a multidisciplinary design firm, it is a tremendous honor to be recognized for work that thoughtfully integrates all our disciplines – architecture, landscape architecture, interiors, planning, space analytics, and graphic design – to create holistic and sustainable environments that provide long-term value for our clients. Additionally, a number projects were recognized for multiple awards, both in this year and as multi-year winners.

We extend these honors to our incredible clients and collaborators who are vital to the success of each project.

Selected Awards

Washington College Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall
AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Grand Design Award
AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Merit Award for Institutional Architecture
AIA Chesapeake Bay Excellence in Design Honor Award for Non-Residential New Construction and Sustainability Award

Enoch Pratt Free Library
AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Award and Michael F. Trostel, FAIA Award for Historic Preservation
AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Award – Citation for Institutional Architecture
Daily Record Excellence in Construction and Real Estate Award
Preservation Maryland Preservation Artisan Award
Baltimore Heritage Preservation Award

Arizona State University Hayden Library Reinvention
AIA Western Mountain Region Design Excellence – Citation Award for Historic Rehabilitation – Built
Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Awards – Editor’s Pick in the Institutional Libraries Category

Colby College Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons
AIA Maryland AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Award – Citation for Institutional Architecture
AIA Arizona Design Award for Interiors

Providence Innovation District Master Plan and Point225
AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Merit Award for Urban Design and Master Planning

Washington University in St. Louis Bryan Hall
AIA St. Louis Design Merit Award

Bancroft Elementary School
USGBC National Capital Region Innovative Project of the Year – New Construction, Schools

Clemson University Douthit Hills Student Community
AIA Columbia (SC) Design Award – Merit Award

University of North Texas Interdisciplinary Research & Education Building (IREB)
IIDA Southwest Pride Award Design Excellence in Higher Education

Elevating Design and Research
Outside of the Office

October 9, 2020
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As an employee-owned firm, our people are our greatest strength. Even in the most challenging times, they exhibit expertise and leadership in their fields. October is Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) month, and a great time to celebrate the incredible work that employees are doing to elevate design and research in addition to providing great client service.


Architect Shannon Dowling was awarded a Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) fellowship. The SCUP Fellows program “supports members of the SCUP community seeking to carry out research that will benefit the integrated planning community and establish an accelerated path to an exceptional future.” Recipients are supported in their research by the organization and present at the national conference.

Over the next year, Shannon will study how colleges and universities can plan and design diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environments that embody those values in physical space and provide campus planners and facility designers with a set of metrics with which to assess physical space. The results of this study will help inform how to manifest these values on campus.

“Through the research, I hope to create a roadmap for architects and campus planners to address these issues in a way that is meaningful, authentic and creates a more inclusive and student-centered campus environment through thoughtful, informed, and provocative integrated planning.”

The project will use a case-study methodology, and Shannon will be analyzing the mission, vision, values, and most recent strategic and master plans for three different universities, looking for measurable physical goals relative to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through interviews with the University Architects and Campus Planners at each institution and comparisons of their plans and progress to peer institutions, she will look for patterns of successful ideas, designs, and campus interventions.

In the spring of 2021, Shannon will lead a workshop with interior design students, giving them a voice in the project and another avenue to share what’s been learned.

See the SCUP page for more details.


Melonee Quintanilla, a student intern working in the architecture practice group, won the 2020 AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Award for Graduate Student, Beginning Design. Her design “Lightbox,” was a vision for the renovation of the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Building.

“I chose to do a renovation instead of demolishing and starting over for sustainability reasons, but I also wanted to preserve the existing sense of place in the building. The school has a lot of built-in memories, but there was room for improvement. The design goal was to uplift and share the architecture program with others and get more people exposed and involved in the practice. I also wanted to ensure that the landscape improved existing issues and presented a learning opportunity.”

The jury commented:

A thoughtful and well executed project. It received high marks in design excellence for literally elevating the architectural program on campus and incorporating a bioswale to deal with flooding issues. It was a very smart design move to put a light, glass-filled addition above the existing brick building, signaling the department’s activity to the university community and increasing the transparency of the architectural field.


Abby Thomas, with assistance from Connor Price and Mike McGrain, all from the landscape architecture practice group, had a concept selected for the Design for Distancing competition. This initiative by the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Development Corporation, the Neighborhood Design Center, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health set about looking for designs to reconfigure public space to safely patronize small business during the COVID-19 Pandemic. There were 162 total submissions, 10 of which were chosen for the design guidelines book. These designs will be implemented in some small business districts in and around Baltimore, and offer solutions that could be taken up nationwide.

The chosen design, “ParKIT” is a mobile kiosk designed to hold the key items for creating a pop-up park (the kiosk itself can then be used for any number of vending or service functions).

ParKIT and the other winners design briefs are here.

See page 48 for ParKIT from Ayers Saint Gross.

Amber Wendland Joins the Neighborhood Design Center Board of Directors

September 21, 2020
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Amber Wendland recently joined the board of directors of the Neighborhood Design Center.

Founded in Baltimore during the civil rights movement, the Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) has for decades been committed to engaged and participatory urban design to advance equity and strengthen communities. This has proven, wide-ranging positive impacts with over 3,500 projects across Maryland.

Amber has worked tirelessly over the years focused on improving Baltimore and its communities, including the East Baltimore Revitalization Plan. We spoke with Amber about her role with NDC.

What does being on the board entail?

The board has a number of subcommittees, but the general purpose is to help support NDC’s mission and grow their reach. NDC has a close relationship with their board, and they look to it for expertise and support. The organization is formed with a deliberate dedication to diversity in all its forms, including gender diversity, racial and ethnic diversity, diversity of experience, and diversity of talent. There are a lot of different backgrounds and knowledge people bring to the table and part of my responsibility as a board member is to uphold this heterogeneity moving forward.

How does this connect with the work you’ve done?

The Neighborhood Design Center is dedicated to the growth of healthy, equitable neighborhoods, and this appointment allows me to further advance my passion for designing with and advocating for under-invested communities while also advancing the mission of Ayers Saint Gross. NDC prioritizes engagement and this is a great opportunity to continue connecting resources and getting people involved in designing a more equitable, beautiful, and just Baltimore.

NDC does so many incredible projects for the City of Baltimore. Their dedication to promoting equity and ensuring an inclusive and collaborative design process resonates deeply with me.

So much of the East Baltimore Revitalization Plan was about ensuring the community had agency in the process and set the direction and vision of the plan. You could design a beautiful master plan, but it is meaningless without community voices and the passionate support from local leaders. Historically, urban planning and policy has often marginalized Black and Brown communities through a top-down planning approach, resulting in many of the challenges we see across Baltimore today.  Reversing that approach by fostering a community-led planning and visioning process must start with listening and building relationships with the community. This relationship needs to be prioritized and fostered, and among the best ways to do that is to listen intently, celebrate the voices of the community, and empower leaders.

At its heart, planning is about providing a roadmap—a series of options to fulfill the needs and desires of the community and a path to move forward. A plan brings cohesiveness and a shared vision, which in turn allows for clear messaging of the community’s needs, and allows funding, investment, and philanthropy to be sought, procured, and effectively allocated. Ensuring that community voices are the foundation of that cohesive vision and that they are intimately entwined with the process and thus represented in the product—a true sharing of knowledge—are critical elements to the success of a neighborhood plan, and I’m eager to bring the lessons learned, and continue learning, with the work of NDC.

So, what’s next?

The work that NDC does to improve neighborhoods, amplify the voices of community members, and fight for racial justice is incredibly important and continuing that mission is paramount. This work is especially salient as we as a city and country continue to push for equity and civil rights.

Over the past six months, we have had to adapt how we engage with communities, expanding virtual engagement and taking social distancing precautions for in-person meetings as the pandemic continues.

Another goal moving forward is to build a closer relationship between NDC and Ayers Saint Gross. The relationship between our organizations goes back decades, ebbing and flowing throughout the years. Now is a great time to reconnect and continue to build strong connections as we move into the future. Several of our staff have volunteered with NDC in the past, and this will increase volunteering opportunities. Much like a successful planning effort, this association will provide ways to engage and volunteer in a more cohesive way.

Amber Wendland is a senior associate in the Planning and Architecture practice groups, working in Baltimore.

180 Strong, Collaboration at Ayers Saint Gross (During COVID-19)

June 30, 2020
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May 15, 2020 kicked off our annual collaboration event at Ayers Saint Gross. Each year, our firm comes together to celebrate our people, our practice, and our accomplishments. 2020 looked very different.

Last year we gathered in-person for a day-long summit, and while this year was always intended to be a virtual week-long celebration of our firm, virtual was taken to new extents.

Look back at what 2019 Collaboration Day looked like.

What is Collaboration Week?

Collaboration Week brings Ayers Saint Gross’s three offices, six disciplines, and 180 employee-owners together to connect with each other, learn about ongoing and recently completed work, discuss trends in our marketplace, and hear from senior leaders about what’s ahead. In addition, we celebrate the reveal of our annual stock price and recognize leaders in our firm with the Lex Schwartz Collaboration Awards.

In 2020 we had a new challenge, as all of us were working from home and dealing with the stress of balancing our new normal, the unknown state of the world and this new health crisis, in addition to serving our clients and continuing to win work to sustain our firm.

The Look of 2020

When designing collaboration week 2020’s brand, we wanted to embrace the digital nature. With everyone in front of a screen, a rich gradient of color was an obvious win. The firm’s three offices were represented through three primary brand colors – green, blue, and orange – coming together to build the iconic gradient used throughout all event collateral.

The gradient was then exploded to create a multicolored palette for use in the week-long event. The brand, representative of the entire firm and the individuals of whom it is made, was used to guide participants through presentations, starting with one end of a gradient and moving to the other.

A bespoke surprise package was sent to every employee’s home. Each package included a set of three pre-stamped postcards and a wellness bingo challenge card. The postcards encourage reconnection with people during COVID-19 isolation. Employees shared stories of sending the cards to other employees, friends who had run solo marathons, loved ones who were going without graduation celebrations, and parents that had been in isolation without visitors for weeks. These stories were shared on our firm’s intranet and truly connected us during a challenging time.

Ayers Saint Gross sponsored a Wellness Bingo to help our employees prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing during Collaboration Week. A series of wellness-focused challenges started a friendly competition among employee-owners to complete over the week. We encouraged everyone to complete an activity per day to fill the week with health, mindfulness, and relaxation.

Sharing Big Ideas

Everyone is looking to the future, now more than ever. What will it become? What can we do now to shape it? During Collaboration Week, our firm President Luanne Greene discussed some big topics that we focused on at our #ONEFIRM meeting, where 180 of our Ayers Saint Gross employees gathered virtually to interact and respond to each other in a large group forum.

2020’s big themes were: Design, Carbon, and Data.

Design: It’s a broad topic, especially at a multidisciplinary firm like ours. When we think about design excellence, we think about beautiful and inspirational designs–long-lasting, sustainable, resilient investments in the built and natural environment. Our design ethos has always been rooted in capturing the spirit of our clients and the spirit of place. Of course, our designs support the users and programs housed there. With spaces that are flexible and accommodate change over time. We think about the process of engagement that enhances their experience over many years. Design excellence is about curiosity and exploration. We engage people and places to create designs that enrich our world.

Carbon: This crisis has given us a heightened awareness of the natural environment. There aren’t many positive things you can say about the COVID crisis, except we do have cleaner air now than we did at the beginning of March. That should encourage us all to believe in the power of combating climate change. There are a couple of key ideas now as we address climate change and carbon. Our industry is responsible for a very large quantity of the carbon released in the atmosphere. We can have a huge impact on climate change. In its early years, the 2030 Challenge focused on carbon emissions due to the operations of buildings.

Now, we are also turning our attention to the carbon that is embodied in the buildings and landscapes themselves. Our focus is now shifting to questions to solve with our structural engineers. Why concrete? Why steel? Is timber an option? How can our landscapes sequester more carbon continuously? These are the questions we must ask more frequently and more aggressively. How can we work with our clients to create beautiful, functional, low-carbon, high-performance buildings and landscapes? We strive to answer these questions each day.

Data: This pandemic has severely heightened challenges that already exist across all areas of our culture and economy. For instance, higher education has been struggling with enrollment demographics and financial paradigms for a long time. This crisis has heightened both of those concerns. Our clients come to us asking for help with their facilities. They are making huge investments in their physical environment. As with any big and long-lasting investments, they want to be confident in their decision making. They want to lower their risk and they need to explain their decisions to their own stakeholders. Data is one of the key ways that we can help them with this. Data can support and accelerate their decision-making. 

Data weaves through each discipline and across all business areas at Ayers Saint Gross. We work daily with data to connect the dots for our clients, as well as ourselves, to make informed decisions to improve the future.

If you have ever had a brainstorming session and seen how many ideas have come out of it, imagine 180 smart, creative, driven people coming together in a virtual chat to share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. We are all virtual employees now, and we are connecting across boundaries better than ever. There are no limits for how far our firm can go to achieve great things.

Making it Happen

Have you ever coordinated a week-long virtual event in the middle of a global pandemic for a firm of 180 people that are in the middle of an unprecedented work from home arrangement? You haven’t? Well we have! Here are the five need-to-knows on pulling off a successful virtual event for your company.

  1. Communicate early and often. Get your event invitations out there with details on what people should expect from attendance to participation during the event. Think about getting feedback pre-event and hear from your employees on what they want. Communicate the big picture in a simple graphic way.
  2. Know your Platform and get IT on your side. We are Zoom powerusers, but you still need to know the ins and outs of your platform and understand how you are going to use it. You also need to know that the best laid plans can go awry – so just make an IT joke, have fun and keep going. Everyone has experienced an IT glitch.
  3. Offer a variety of content. Try to offer something for everyone. Send a survey beforehand and see what your firm employees want to get out an event, plan around interests, strategic plan themes or current events. We suggest having a balance of lecture and interactive so that it breaks up the formal and causal style – don’t forget to throw in a few happy hours!
  4. Practice, Practice, Practice. When presenting digitally and hosting / moderating events for large groups online, its imperative to practice. Know your transitions, who’s running the show and always have a backup plan in case IT issues arise.
  5. Incorporate Fun. Fun is key. People need to be able to unwind during these strange times. Incorporate an icebreaker – tell a joke, share a funny story, use breakout rooms for smaller group interaction where people can loosen up – most importantly – keep it light!

All in all, there were rave reviews across the nation from our employee owners around Collaboration Week.

It was a time for us to reflect on what’s happening but also take time to appreciate each other for who we are as people and what we have together at Ayers Saint Gross.

Based on a post-event survey the top 3 actions that our employe owners plan to take as a result of CWEEK 20:

  1. Attend a future Behind the Design presentation
  2. Encourage a culture of sharing
  3. Prioritize their physical and mental health

Take a look at the experience of #CWEEK20 at Ayers Saint Gross.

A Message from Ayers Saint Gross about COVID-19

March 18, 2020
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With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), all of us face an evolving challenge. Ayers Saint Gross remains grateful for all of you – our clients and our colleagues – as we adapt to new circumstances in our lives and work.

We are actively monitoring developments, following guidelines issued by the CDC as well as local and state authorities, and frequently communicating with our staff. To do our part to minimize the spread of the virus, Ayers Saint Gross has canceled or postponed non-essential travel and is supporting our staff to work remotely.

Our work on projects with clients and partners has continued without interruption. We have developed innovative tools for virtual engagement to maintain a high level of remote collaboration. To ensure project progress, your primary point of contact at Ayers Saint Gross will continue to be in close communication with you, and we will work together to determine the best path forward for all scheduled meetings, workshops, and deliverables.

In this unprecedented time, we remain vigilant and agile. Ayers Saint Gross is committed to providing the same high level of service and responsiveness you are accustomed to. If there is anything we can do to better serve you, please let us know.

(This is a rapidly changing situation. This message will be updated with additional information or if changes in guidelines arise.)

Announcing New Leaders and Promotions

March 5, 2020
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Join us as we congratulate these outstanding individuals on their well-deserved promotions. As an employee-owned firm, our people are our greatest strength. We are thrilled to recognize the following leaders who engage people and places to create designs that enrich our world.

This year, we have asked our recently promoted employee-owners their thoughts on topics key to our success. Here’s what they have to say.

VICE PRESIDENT

Earl Purdue, Architecture
On engagement: “As a client-focused firm, we achieve success through an engaged process. Leading by example, communicating, and imparting lessons learned to next generation leaders is of the utmost importance with this level of client engagement.”

PRINCIPAL

Joe McNamara, Architecture
On mentoring others: “Being a leader means setting a tone and fostering a culture of excellence, a place where everyone is empowered to speak up in the name of improving the quality of our work.”

ASSOCIATE PRINCIPAL

Michelle Kollmann, Interiors
On teamwork: “I’m an advocate for curiosity and collaboration. Every contribution is valuable and our impact is magnified when we work together to solve a problem. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something from one of my talented and creative colleagues.”

SENIOR ASSOCIATE

Peter Baker, Architecture
On the mission of the firm: “Engage: take initiative, listen. Create: never sacrifice design and pursue creativity in all aspects of the design process. Enrich: support colleagues and look for interdisciplinary opportunities that build a holistic, sustainable approach to design.”

Justin Dahl-James, Architecture
On inspiration: “Great design inspires me and I’m most excited about historic renovations. It is gratifying to work on a project where the design team can find ways to celebrate or showcase specific elements of historical significance and re-purpose other elements within the new design.”

Mindy Dunn, Graphic Design
On leadership: “Leadership means understanding the benefits and challenges every opportunity presents in a firm-focused context. It means listening, modeling thoughtful co-working, and advocating for your passions with respect. It means taking initiative, digging deep, reporting, and championing efforts that improve projects, teams, processes, and the entire firm.”

Noah Harburger, Building Technology
On embracing change: “You never know where the next great idea will come from, so it’s important to be accessible to everyone, help them do their work better, and make their work easier. It is through this track record of helping others that an environment has been created at Ayers Saint Gross which welcomes positive changes.”

Silvia Hasty, Interiors
On staying challenged: “Positive change and growth can only come by challenging our comfort zone. Staying abreast of trends and sustainable practices, even if it isn’t what we are used to, leads to positive change. Leadership starts with being able to see the big picture and work with others towards a common goal.”

Jordan Hawes, Interiors
On taking risks: “I am a fan of design that takes risks to create or enhance an identity for a client. In interior design, there are so many new and interesting materials and products out there and I’m always thinking about how they can be integrated into the next project to provide that special “design moment.”

Elizabeth McLean, Architecture
On leading positive change: “Each individual in the firm is a leader, and we have a shared value-based vision. Our actions need to be equitable and we must be accountable. To lead positive change at Ayers Saint Gross, I advocate for diverse teams and promote leadership in others.”

Nicole Ostrander, Planning
On motivation: “Ayers Saint Gross’s mission motivates me to embrace each project as an opportunity. I am excited by re-envisioning space; transforming it in unique and inspiring ways. I strive to lead with compassion, as it is our relationships with people above all else that allow us to accomplish great things.”

Margaret Zivkovich, Graphic Design
On creating connections: “Wayfinding is not just a sign here or there, it’s using the full environment – through architecture, through color, through texture – to help people navigate their world safely. And in the design process – watching connections happen between people and ideas – I love seeing kernels of concepts evolve and develop as ideas begin to feed off each other.”

ASSOCIATE

Danielle Bersch, Architecture
On the growth of sustainable opportunities: “I’m inspired most by nature and look forward to working on new standards to assess the performance of our buildings. It’s exciting to see the market availability of new sustainable and regenerative materials in the United States.”

Francisca Bonilla, Architecture
On women in leadership: “Fresh out of college, it was a bit intimidating to sit in meetings as the only woman, but the strides women are making in the field is so empowering. The female leadership at Ayers Saint Gross has inspired me to believe in my experience and knowledge, no matter who is in the room.”

Gina Fernandes, Architecture
On issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion: “I put a voice to issues that lack representation and look for collaborative solutions. Issues of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) challenge our industry, and I work to engage others in this area – from how we foster professional development and career growth in the firm to how we engage the communities we work with and champion all voices in the design process.”

Russell Holstine, Architecture
On giving support: “I am continually inspired by the amazing and talented people I get to work with every day. Being a leader at Ayers Saint Gross means effectively supporting your colleagues and teammates to produce the best product possible for our clients.”

Ryan Johns, Accounting
On ambition: “Hearing and seeing individuals speak to what they’re striving toward inspires me to work harder. It’s a reminder that everyone needs to push themselves, and it shows me that there are standards being set firm-wide and I like to live up to and lead by those standards.”

Priscilla Korompis, Graphic Design
On timeless design: “I’m most excited about designing with function, longevity, and purpose in mind. Thinking about how something can be around for years, when beauty meets function and the project’s story – nothing excites me more than smart design.”

Stephen Pasquerello, Architecture
On transparency: “Today, people are more conscious of what they buy and where it comes from. Likewise, we need to be transparent and responsible in material selection and sourcing. I look forward to working to fulfill that goal.”

Connor Price, Landscape Architecture
On discovery: “I am inspired by the design process and the discovery of concepts through sketching. Keeping our mission in mind, this process teaches me to think about who we are designing for and how we are changing the built environment for the better.”

Maegan Smith, Graphic Design
On collaboration: “I strive to be a leader who is engaging, creative, and impactful and I look forward to continuing to increase collaboration. I believe that the earlier engagement happens among all involved, the better the outcome of the project and the higher the impact.”

Awards: 2019 Year in Review

December 19, 2019
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This year, Ayers Saint Gross projects were honored with more than 20 design awards, including eight AIA awards for work spanning across the globe. As a multidisciplinary design firm, it is a tremendous honor to be recognized for work that thoughtfully integrates all our disciplines – architecture, landscape architecture, interiors, planning, space analytics, and graphic design – to create holistic and sustainable environments that provide long-term value for our clients. The awards celebrate our core mission to engage people and places to create designs that enrich the world.

We extend these honors to our incredible clients and collaborators who are vital to the success of each project.

Selected Awards

Eckerd College Helmar and Enole Nielsen Center for Visual Arts
AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Honor Award
AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Honorable Mention

Atturaif Living Museum and Visitor Reception Center
AIA Baltimore Excellence in Design Grand Design Award
AIA Middle East Merit Award, Built Architecture

Johns Hopkins University San Martin Drive Pedestrian Improvements
SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture Honor Award

Providence Innovation District Master Plan and Point225
Providence Preservation Society Award for Leadership In New Construction

National Aquarium Wetlands Pop-Up Poster
Maryland ASLA Communications Award

Clemson University Residential Development and HUB Student Center
AIA South Carolina Chapter & Section Design Award – Merit Award for New Construction

Colby College Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons
IIDA Southwest Chapter PRIDE Awards Design Excellence Mixed-Use Category
The Associated General Contractors of America Build Maine Awards Top Award

Virginia Commonwealth University Gladding Residence Center
Student Housing Business Innovator Award for Best New Development by a University

Auburn University School of Nursing
AIA Montgomery (AL) Merit Award for Institutional Architecture

Morgan State University Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management
AIA Maryland Excellence in Design Awards Citation

Bancroft Elementary School
AIA DC Chapter Design Award
ENR MidAtlantic Best Project: Award of Merit Winner in Renovation/Restoration

Alfond Commons in the News

December 12, 2019
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In the fall of 2018, Colby College opened the Alfond Main Street Commons, realizing Colby’s vision of housing 200 students and faculty-in-residence in the heart of downtown Waterville, Maine. The past year has proven this initiative to be a resounding success. Already the project has been recognized for multiple awards, including:

It is always fulfilling to see our projects advance the student experience within the campus community. Alfond Commons is especially gratifying because of its significant impact on both Colby and the Waterville community at large, which has been highlighted in several articles and publications.

In addition to an interview with Ayers Saint Gross president Luanne Greene, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s special publication, “The Campus as City” featured Alfond Commons and produced this excellent video.

Talking Stick, the publication from the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) wrote about both Alfond Commons’ place in Waterville and the active learning community that has been created there.

Finally, we have been proud to share the success of Alfond Commons at conferences around the country.

Recently, Eric Zahn presented the project with Brian Clark, Vice President of Planning for Colby College, at the ACUHO-I Academic Initiatives Conference. Their talk highlighted the unique synergy of civic, academic, and student life spaces within the building, and the aspects of its design that render it both forward-looking and expressive of its place. Eric also spoke about how our student housing expertise and design build teaming arrangement with Landry/French Construction helped get the project designed and delivered on an aggressive schedule. While of great value to the owner, more significantly, this hall has elevated the Colby student experience and established a compelling template for a community-driven co-curricular living community. The fact that it is already the most popular of Colby’s on-campus housing offerings is a testament to its success

All in all, this news adds up to a remarkable year. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.