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

Sustainable Design Coordinator Kyle Ritchie presented at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference, on the principles of permaculture design, a platform that applies the patterns of natural ecosystems to the design of the built environment. Alfond Commons (along with Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall and the Hayden Library Reinvention) was presented as a case study for putting these principles into practice.

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

Ayers Saint Gross Earns #29 Ranking on the 2019 Architect 50 List

November 9, 2019
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We are so thrilled that ARCHITECT Magazine ranked Ayers Saint Gross as number 29 on its annual list of the top architecture firms in the country. This prestigious industry ranking is not just about being the largest firm; instead it rigorously evaluates the metrics of a firm’s overall business, sustainability, and design portfolios. The business evaluation includes finances; HR benefits; equity, diversity, and inclusion; and pro bono work. Sustainability measures the firm’s internal and external commitments to ecologically responsible building. A trio of judges reviews a selection of key projects in the design category.

The complexity and thoroughness of the ARCHITECT Magazine process speaks to how the industry can and should approach the creation of the built environment. As a multidisciplinary employee-owned design firm with a focus on mission-driven clients, we believe we have an obligation to leave places better than we found them.

We understand that we can make places better financially by building successful, diverse spaces and creating a philanthropic, sustainable business where expertise develops, careers grow, and new leaders arise. Responsible green building has a net-positive effect on our clients’ lives and on the planet. And of course aesthetics count too – designs that are beautiful, functional, and inspiring are at the heart of our work.

As we move into a new decade, this honor from ARCHITECT Magazine serves as an inspiration for what our designers and our firm can do next to push our business, our sustainability practices, and our designs to the next horizon. I’m excited to see what happens next.

Luanne Greene in The Chronicle of Higher Education

October 10, 2019
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Luanne Greene, FAIA

As the premiere source for higher education journalism, The Chronicle of Higher Education serves their readers with current news, insightful opinions, helpful advice, and a robust career portal. The Chronicle also periodically takes deep dives into critical issues facing the college and university realm and publishes detailed reports. The special publication “The Campus as City,” features interviews with a diverse group of leaders across higher education. Included is Ayers Saint Gross President Luanne Greene, FAIA addressing the principles that bring cities and colleges together.

Colleges and universities are more invested in their relationships to their surrounding communities than ever before. This report investigates how colleges and universities perform many of the functions of a local municipality, but with constrained resources and heightened expectations. This fascinating and important report explores questions such as: how do you run a modern campus and keep functions like planning, transportation, and public safety at the forefront? What is the role of an anchor institution, and how does the surrounding community influence decisions that you make? How do you pursue responsible expansion and development?

Colby College, Alfond Commons
Alfond Commons at Colby College, featured in the publication, caters toward service-minded students and features a community forum on the ground floor.

Each campus environment brings its own history, challenges, goals, and sometimes resentments (indeed, the publication’s introduction cites clashes dating back to 1355). The questions are not new, but the strategies and creativity dedicated to resolving them is. In the piece, Luanne discusses the importance of developer relationships, looking ahead to future transit challenges, and the essential nature of having people and ideas near one another. These principles help guide our design thinking and cover practical concerns of infrastructure, scale, and environmental impact, as well as the ineffable qualities like the sense of place and intellectual buzz. Cities and campuses have a great deal to offer one another and their successes can be mutual. Ayers Saint Gross works to break down these barriers, and facilitate inclusivity.

Point225

Among the examples cited in the piece, the Providence Innovation District is a great example of these principles at work. Home to prestigious institutions including Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence is a place where many good ideas are being formed. Supported by developer partners and fulfilling the potential of the connection to the rest of the city opened by the re-routing of I-95/I-195, all those good ideas will have access to the business community and vice-versa. The resulting innovations (tech start-ups, new ideas for mature companies, research and development breakthroughs, among others) provide opportunity and feed back into the economy of the city. Point225, the first building implemented as part of the master plan, recently opened, and we are excited to see the results.

Place matters. For students, a campus is where some of the most memorable and intellectually rich moments of their lives may occur; for the community, it’s home; for faculty and staff it’s both. We are proud to share our involvement in The Chronicle’s publication and honored to play a role in the future of campuses and cities alike. See Luanne’s portion here.

First Annual Jim Wheeler Day of Service

July 26, 2019
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“We engage people and places to create designs that enrich the world.” This philosophy guides our design thinking for our clients and is a standard to which we hold ourselves. Putting our values into action across our offices in Baltimore, Tempe, and Washington DC, this spring we held the Jim Wheeler Day of Service. Named in honor of our former president and current chairman of the board, this is a day for us as a firm to give back to the communities where we live and work.

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

When it came to connecting with our communities, Jim understood the importance of giving back, which led him to the United Way early in his career. When the challenge of leading the United Way board of directors came along, Jim saw a chance for growth and change – in the United Way and in himself. He helped lead them to pioneering projects and a new home.

This is a legacy we seek to live up to by continuing in this example and expanding our reach. We are happy to continue our long relationship with United Way and to forge new bonds with non-profits nationwide. The activities for the Jim Wheeler Day of Service included neighborhood cleanups, helping create parks, gardens, and greenspace in the inner city, volunteering at food banks and kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, and helping at local elementary schools.

We look forward to repeating the success of the day for many years to come and are happy to share these images from the events. We encourage others to get involved with these great organizations.

DC Central Kitchen
United Way – Maree G. Farring Elementary School
City of Refuge
Duncan Street Miracle Garden
Maryland Food Bank
Arizona Habitat for Humanity
Kirby Lane Park

Ayers Saint Gross at SCUP 2019

July 11, 2019
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The SCUP 2019 Annual Conference is being held in Seattle this year, and we are pleased to have an abundance of good news to share in the Emerald City.

Ayers Saint Gross has won the SCUP Excellence Award in Landscape Architecture for General Design for the San Martin Drive Pedestrian Improvements at Johns Hopkins University. The project highlights a natural asset while improving the safety and well-being of students. The landscape design incorporates four major elements: defining a continuous pedestrian connection the length of the corridor, developing clear and safe crossings of the roadway, creatively resolving the need for pedestrian connections in an environmentally sensitive area, and establishing clear entry gates to the University. We are happy to announce the honor and proud of this project and our design team for their incredible and life-changing work.


A new year at SCUP also means a new Comparing Campuses poster. Since 1998, Ayers Saint Gross has annually published this poster featuring campus plans from leading institutions around the world. After a number of years focusing on specific themes, this year’s poster is a recall to our original style and features eleven new additions to our collection. Featuring a mix of large and small campuses and punctuated with sustainability facts, we’ve assembled 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 look forward to seeing everyone at the conference. Come and visit us at booth 401.

Collaboration Day 2019

July 3, 2019
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Collaboration is a hallmark of our design process and a key value of our firm. Every few years Ayers Saint Gross brings together all employees across our three offices for a day-long gathering known as Collaboration Day. This is an opportunity to put our values into practice, share experiences with colleagues, recognize and reward exemplary efforts, and, ultimately, bring the inspiration gained from the day into our work for our clients.

While collaboration is the purpose of the day, creativity is really what it’s all about. We opened up with an art show titled “Intersections” on the evening before Collaboration Day’s formal start. Employees from all offices and discipline groups entered their original artwork for display. There were paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and more. It is always striking to see just how much energy and passion our colleagues bring to their creative endeavors outside of work as well.

The following morning, we gathered at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. The day was filled with informative presentations and valuable interactions. We shared examples of our work and vision of excellence. Seeing the expertise that our employees bring and the understanding and appreciation gained for what others do is incredibly valuable. We also spent time reviewing our impact in the community with which we live and work. We believe that giving back is an essential part of collaboration.

Rounding out the day, we acknowledged and rewarded exceptional collaboration with the presentation of the Lex Schwartz Collaboration Awards. Inspired by our long-time mentor and master collaborator, Lex Schwartz, this annual award recognizes the highest level of leadership in collaboration for the betterment of our projects and clients, our firm and employees, and the communities we serve. The awards are given both to a project team and an individual. We were extremely proud to award these honors to the Whittle School and Studios team, and to Principal and Interior Designer, Linnea Kessler-Gowell.

Collaboration Day reiterates the vital importance of investing in people. The creativity of our staff and the inspiration we give to one another pushes all of us to deliver the very best for our clients. Kevin Jones, Associate, Architect, and a leader in the Employee Ownership and Finance Committee, summed this up beautifully during the event. Enjoy his words and video highlights from the day. We can’t wait to share what our team comes up with next.

Announcing our 2019 Promotions

April 11, 2019
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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.

PRINCIPALS

Corey Chang, Architecture

Throughout his career, Corey has led an array of higher education projects, including academic and research facilities with a focus on health sciences, nursing, and STEM. He delivers the highest caliber of service with his attentiveness to an institution’s needs coupled with responsive designs and execution of the details. Corey is a leader in our employee-owned business structure, ensuring that everyone is engaged and invested in the success of the firm.

Joel Fidler, Architecture

Joel leads with a clear architectural vision and open communication to discover what drives clients’ needs. His experience ranges from college and university campuses and local school systems to housing and commercial development. Joel is the President of AIA Maryland and has served on its Board of Directors since 2016.

Christine Hurt, Finance

Christine is Chief Financial Officer of Ayers Saint Gross. Her expertise includes corporate accounting, financial reporting and analysis, budgeting, audit requirements, regulatory reporting, treasury management, tax compliance, and risk management. Christine is on the Board of Trustees for the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and recently held leadership positions at her church and with Boy Scouts of America.

Linnea Kessler-Gowell, Interiors

Linnea has deep expertise as an interior designer for higher education and multifamily projects with significant experience on interior renovations, including detailed furniture, fixtures, and equipment packages. Bringing valuable knowledge from work on the client side, she understands how to best design vibrant and integrated interior environments for flexible learning and living, keeping maintenance and costs in mind.

ASSOCIATE PRINCIPALS

Sally Chinnis, Planning

A campus planner and urban designer, Sally helps institutions create dynamic mixed-use precincts, enhance the student and residential experience, expand open space networks, and develop phased implementation plans to realize their vision. Her projects span strategic planning, programming, and physical planning for university campuses and individual schools, colleges, and administrative units.

Alyson Goff, Space Analytics

With practical knowledge at the governing board and campus levels, Alyson understands the inner workings of higher education and possesses deep understanding of institutional operations. Through analysis and planning of short- and long-term space needs, she provides valuable insight to institutions to inform their space planning and management strategies, allowing institutions to align academic, financial, and physical planning goals.

Hans Graf, Architecture

Hans has dedicated his career to the design of student life buildings, with a particular focus on residence halls that elevate the living-learning experience. Working closely with residence life departments, the office of facilities, and other stakeholders at colleges and universities to verify their programming needs and then translate them into built forms, Hans envisions and executes innovative and creative designs.

Katy Hunchar, Marketing and Business Development

Katy is the firm’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. With more than 12 years of experience working with design firms, she leads strategic marketing and business development efforts across all disciplines for higher education, cultural institutions, and other mission-driven clients.

Jessica Leonard, Planning and Architecture

Jessica brings comprehensive programming, space planning, strategic planning, and design skills to the firm. She leads large, complex master planning efforts and is passionate about engaging stakeholders to guide decisions that shape the character of an institution and its vision for the future. Jessica is a member of SCUP and received the Alpha Rho Chi Medal and a University Fellowship from the University of Maryland. She is a founder of the SHARPkids program in Baltimore City, where she also serves as a youth mentor.

Cooper Melton, Architecture

Cooper has devoted his design practice to housing and higher education, steering successful and award-winning projects to completion. Cooper’s extensive background in both market-rate and student housing allows him to find inventive solutions that bridge the goals of the private sector with the ideals of academic institutions. Cooper has spoken at national and regional conferences, including ACUHO-I and SEAHO.

SENIOR ASSOCIATES

Erin Estep, Architecture

Laura Hall, Architecture

Cormac Phalen, Architecture

Angelo Pirali, Architecture

William Story, Planning

Michael Taylor, Architecture

Amber Wendland, Planning

ASSOCIATES

Bohdan Baida, Space Analytics

Matthew Doeller, Architecture

Igor Hercegovac, Architecture

John Kucia, Architecture

Olivia Law, Architecture

Beresford Pratt, Architecture

Tim Smiroldo, Architecture

Stephen Turk, Marketing and Business Development


ART DIRECTOR

Margaret Zivkovich, Graphic Design

*Illustrations by Katy Hunchar

Ayers Saint Gross Completes JUST Disclosure

March 4, 2019
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We’re excited to announce that our firm’s JUST Disclosure went live this week, check it out online here.

JUST is a voluntary reporting tool developed by the International Living Future Institute for organizations to describe operational, social, and financial actions that contribute to what equity looks like at that organization. The program includes 21 different social justice and equity indicators within six categories. Each indicator has three levels of achievement and reporting that must be updated at regular intervals to maintain a JUST Disclosure. Participants in JUST must disclose information on at least 18 of the 21 indicators and can only opt out of at most one indicator per category.

Our firm’s definition of sustainability has always recognized the careful balance between the unique needs of people and ecological systems with the economic realities inherent in each of our projects. Today we advance our commitment to sustainability by sharing more quantitative data about the social equity and justice issues embedded in who we are and how we practice design. We hope that our transparency will inspire others to engage in critical discourse about equity in design as well as how these issues manifest in the built environment.

Ayers Saint Gross’s culture has always valued social, educational, and cultural engagement that aligns with social sustainability. We actively engage with the United Way of Central Maryland and Valley of the Sun United Way; our staff serve as mentors and board members for the ACE Mentor Program of America across the country; we finance scholarship opportunities at a number of institutions to support students in attaining the education that will advance them in the design professions; we staff a Careers in Design exploration program to inspire fifth graders at Beechfield Elementary School in West Baltimore; and this spring we are hosting our first Jim Wheeler Day of Service in honor of our firm’s former president.

We believe in an equitable community. Our firm has already invested a lot in supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion in our professions and within the communities where we live and work, but we have often followed our instincts rather than evaluating against benchmarks. This JUST Disclosure helps us make and track measurable commitments and is the next step in our commitment to social sustainability. We look forward to advancing our discussion about equity, diversity, and inclusion in quantitative ways in addition to the activities we already qualitatively discuss across our practice.

Making our JUST Disclosure also supports our clients and projects. Third-party certifications for high performance buildings, including the Living Building Challenge and LEED, recognize the importance of social equity. Our JUST Disclosure will support the Living Building Challenge Petal Certification of Semans-Griswold Environment Hall and allow every one of our LEED projects to access LEED’s Pilot Credit for Social Equity within the Project Team. We are encouraged that third-party rating systems are increasingly engaging in dialogue on social sustainability and are enthusiastic to be a part of that conversation.

Our JUST Disclosure helps us walk the walk when it comes to social equity and we hope our colleagues in other organizations will join us in advancing this dialogue.