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.
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.”
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.