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Practice

Ayers Saint Gross is an interdisciplinary design firm of architects, planners, landscape architects, interior designers, graphic designers, and space analysts. We work with mission-driven clients around the world to create places for shared knowledge and culture. Our work is driven by a respect for past wisdom, a mind to future potential, and an obligation to leave places better than we found them.  

We engage people and places to create designs that enrich the world.


Design Approach
Eckerd Nielsen Center Exterior_Building Reflected in water
We listen and we lead.
We believe in the collective wisdom of a facilitated, inclusive design process. We ask hard questions and seek many perspectives to guide our clients toward a shared vision.
Light-filled corridor with access to classrooms and gathering spaces in the Integrated Sciences...
We stay curious.
We are creative problem solvers, without a prescriptive approach. We begin with research and commit to intellectual rigor throughout the life of every project.
Water view at Stono Preserve at College of Charleston
We take the long view.
We shape long-term investments in the built environment by creating places of enduring value.
Glenn Neighbors Sketch
We’re designers first.
We bring together deep expertise across multiple disciplines to express beauty and innovation.

Ethos
  • Big and small
    We have the resources and expertise of a large firm, combined with the focused energy of a small firm.
  • No single issue considered in isolation
    Every detail is interconnected. Every voice matters.
  • Visionary and realistic
    Design is captivating and uplifting, while also functional and accommodating. We draw inspiration from the past to invent the future.
  • Celebrate the spirit of place  
    Design evokes memory and emotion in response to the beauty and history of the surrounding environment. 
    Big and small
    We have the resources and expertise of a large firm, combined with the focused energy of a small firm.
    No single issue considered in isolation
    Every detail is interconnected. Every voice matters.
    Visionary and realistic
    Design is captivating and uplifting, while also functional and accommodating. We draw inspiration from the past to invent the future.
    Celebrate the spirit of place  
    Design evokes memory and emotion in response to the beauty and history of the surrounding environment. 

    Sustainability
    A view of Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall with solar panels
    Design for high performance.
    Reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions is a priority for our projects. We measure building performance throughout the design process to produce buildings that cost less to operate, better support environmental and human health, and accelerate our clients toward their sustainability goals.
    A woman reads in front of a sunlit window at Edwards St Johns Learning Center
    Support the human experience.
    The built environment must support human well-being with adequate air quality, daylight access, and healthy material choices. Our people-first design approach considers the unique needs of our clients to create beautiful and functional spaces that are accessible for all.
    An exterior shot of Hayden Library
    Materials matter.
    We recognize existing buildings as a critical asset for a carbon-neutral future and prioritize low-embodied carbon construction materials and products. We believe renovations to existing buildings can conserve embodied carbon while improving operational carbon emissions.
    Students walk by a Denison stormwater feature
    Landscapes and plant life lend a hand.
    Plants play a powerful role in keeping our communities healthy. We thoughtfully incorporate native and adapted plant species on grade and on green roofs to aid with carbon sequestration and stormwater management. Designing biodiverse landscapes that plan for plant succession supports long-term habitat preservation and filters stormwater contaminants to reduce downstream impacts.
    A woman participates in an engagement session
    Consider the global impact.
    There is no sustainability without social equity. We consider the global impact of our design decisions, to find solutions that have positive impacts beyond project boundaries, empowering small businesses and conserving resources up and down the supply chain.
    Signage encouraging responsible water use at Trippe Hall
    Change behaviors.
    Living sustainably is a continuous effort and the decisions made in buildings every day play an important role in determining resource consumption. Through a mix of data and research, we educate people on the ways their buildings are used, providing timely instruction to maximize long-term efficiency.

    Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
    Amber Wendland leads an engagement session
    Design should solve problems for everyone, not just for those in power.
    We know that historic decisions made by the design and building industry have too often caused harm to communities of color and disadvantaged populations. With the understanding that we are designing spaces for all people, we commit to incorporating principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into all aspects of our firm's projects, practice, and pipeline.
    Students relax in a Denison student cafe
    Projects: Design that improves the lives of individuals and strengthens communities.
    Our designs remove barriers and burdens to empower people to gather and connect, live, and function to their highest potential. Our process includes elevating unheard voices and tackling difficult topics so that our projects create a sense of belonging for all.
    Employee-owners work collaboratively in the D.C. office.
    Practice: Bringing diverse backgrounds to the design table.
    We believe diversity in all forms – including background, gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, and more – helps us to be better problem-solvers. We work to promote diversity within our firm and in our external partners, to share opportunities and ideas. Multiple perspectives bring a more comprehensive set of solutions to the table, resulting in stronger and more equitable designs.
    A student works on an architectural model using toothpicks and candy as part of a volunteer exercise
    Pipeline: Supporting the next generation of talented design voices.
    We want prospective designers and the design-curious from all backgrounds to engage in career opportunities where they can use their creative talents. We support creating a pipeline of students interested in the field through in-school mentorship programs, internships, and scholarship funds. Within our firm, we offer mentorship and professional development opportunities to help our employees grow their careers. Read more about how we support our employees on our careers page.
    Employees volunteer as part of the Jim Wheeler Day of Service
    Giving Back: Justice begins in our own backyard.
    We are committed to shaping our cities and our profession for the better through our work and our actions. We create meaningful change in our communities of Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix through investments in social, educational, and cultural programs.

    History
    • 1910s – 1950s
      Rectangle 82
      In 1912, three young architects from Baltimore established the firm of Sill, Buckler & Fenhagen which would later win the 1917 design competition for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Those founders were joined and then succeeded by Richard “Dick” Ayers and Kelsey Saint.
      In 1912, three young architects from Baltimore established the firm of Sill, Buckler & Fenhagen which would later win the 1917 design competition for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Those founders were joined and then succeeded by Richard “Dick” Ayers and Kelsey Saint.
    •  
      Baltimore City College Castle On The Hill
      1928 - Baltimore City College
      After winning a competition in 1924, Buckler & Fenhagen designed this four-story “Castle on the Hill” with stained glass, arched windows, cornices, cloisters, and gargoyles (two in the shape of Buckler and Fenhagen themselves). Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is designated as a Baltimore City landmark.
      1928 - Baltimore City College
      After winning a competition in 1924, Buckler & Fenhagen designed this four-story “Castle on the Hill” with stained glass, arched windows, cornices, cloisters, and gargoyles (two in the shape of Buckler and Fenhagen themselves). Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is designated as a Baltimore City landmark.
    • 1950s – 1980s
      Rectangle 83
      After working on the Construction Specification Institute’s 16-division format in the 1960s, Kelsey Saint formed Ayers Saint with his Yale classmate Dick Ayers. Adam Gross was recruited in the early 1980s. As Ayers Saint Gross, the firm began to focus almost exclusively on higher education in the late 1980s.
      After working on the Construction Specification Institute’s 16-division format in the 1960s, Kelsey Saint formed Ayers Saint with his Yale classmate Dick Ayers. Adam Gross was recruited in the early 1980s. As Ayers Saint Gross, the firm began to focus almost exclusively on higher education in the late 1980s.
    •  
      Johns Hopkins University Shriver Hall New
      1954 – Johns Hopkins University Shriver Hall
      The largest lecture and performance space on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University, the iconic Shriver Hall launched a relationship between our firm and Johns Hopkins University that continues through today, resulting in more than 25 buildings, master plans, space analyses, graphic design, and landscape implementations.
      1954 – Johns Hopkins University Shriver Hall
      The largest lecture and performance space on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University, the iconic Shriver Hall launched a relationship between our firm and Johns Hopkins University that continues through today, resulting in more than 25 buildings, master plans, space analyses, graphic design, and landscape implementations.
    •  
      MICA Fox Fine Arts Building
      1980 – MICA Fox Fine Arts Building
      The renovation of the old Cannon Show Company four-story warehouse retained much of the building's character, including exposed ductwork and the original façade. The first two floors house administrative offices, classrooms and gallery, while the top floors are devoted to art studios, ceramics and wood-working shops.
      1980 – MICA Fox Fine Arts Building
      The renovation of the old Cannon Show Company four-story warehouse retained much of the building's character, including exposed ductwork and the original façade. The first two floors house administrative offices, classrooms and gallery, while the top floors are devoted to art studios, ceramics and wood-working shops.
    • 1990s – 2000s
      Interior of the Ayers Saint Gross Tempe office, view from the conference room into the office lobby
      The firm’s consistent growth led to additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Tempe, Arizona and new disciplines to include planning, graphic design, interiors, and landscape architecture. The firm’s portfolio continued to grow in the 2000s with cultural facilities and international design projects.
      The firm’s consistent growth led to additional offices in Washington, D.C. and Tempe, Arizona and new disciplines to include planning, graphic design, interiors, and landscape architecture. The firm’s portfolio continued to grow in the 2000s with cultural facilities and international design projects.
    •  
      George Washington University Campus Amenities Plan
      1993 – The George Washington University Campus Amenities Master Plan
      One of Ayers Saint Gross' first campus planning efforts, the GW plan set the standard for the future of campus master plans – creating overall continuity while providing flexibility for individual expression.
      1993 – The George Washington University Campus Amenities Master Plan
      One of Ayers Saint Gross' first campus planning efforts, the GW plan set the standard for the future of campus master plans – creating overall continuity while providing flexibility for individual expression.
    •  
      Visitor Center And Education Center At Monticello
      2008 – Visitor Center and Education Center at Monticello
      In developing the architectural design at this UNESCO World Heritage site, the firm embraced Jefferson’s architectural principles without imitating his neoclassical vocabulary of Monticello. The resulting project, which included signage and wayfinding, is LEED Gold-certified, and won AIA design awards in both Maryland and Virginia.
      2008 – Visitor Center and Education Center at Monticello
      In developing the architectural design at this UNESCO World Heritage site, the firm embraced Jefferson’s architectural principles without imitating his neoclassical vocabulary of Monticello. The resulting project, which included signage and wayfinding, is LEED Gold-certified, and won AIA design awards in both Maryland and Virginia.
    • 2010 – present
      Three people converse with each other outside
      Ayers Saint Gross became an employee-owned firm through our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), providing a continual transfer of ownership to current employees. Leading the way through this transition, Luanne Greene became the first woman president of Ayers Saint Gross.
      Ayers Saint Gross became an employee-owned firm through our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), providing a continual transfer of ownership to current employees. Leading the way through this transition, Luanne Greene became the first woman president of Ayers Saint Gross.
    •  
      Roosevelt Point For Arizona State University
      2013 – Roosevelt Point
      Ayers Saint Gross architects and interior architects collaborated on this student housing complex and garage to create a rich, urban experience within the Phoenix Arts District. Roosevelt Point was the first major project to reflect the Downtown Code, intended to enhance the city’s streetscapes.
      2013 – Roosevelt Point
      Ayers Saint Gross architects and interior architects collaborated on this student housing complex and garage to create a rich, urban experience within the Phoenix Arts District. Roosevelt Point was the first major project to reflect the Downtown Code, intended to enhance the city’s streetscapes.
    •  
      Emory University Freshman Housing Village
      2014 – Emory University Freshman Housing Village
      The firm worked with Emory University to plan and implement a housing and dining master plan that established a vibrant residential neighborhood with six new halls, dining, and student services. The LEED-certified halls are coherent in structure and scale, while maintaining individual personality through sustainability and design.
      2014 – Emory University Freshman Housing Village
      The firm worked with Emory University to plan and implement a housing and dining master plan that established a vibrant residential neighborhood with six new halls, dining, and student services. The LEED-certified halls are coherent in structure and scale, while maintaining individual personality through sustainability and design.
    •  
      Duke University School of Nursing
      2014 – Duke School of Nursing
      The School of Nursing creates a dynamic new identity for the top-ranked institution at the heart of a thriving medical center. With architecture recalling Duke’s Collegiate Gothic Vernacular in contemporary ways, this LEED-certified instructional facility conveys a modern sensibility in keeping with a leading medical education facility.
      2014 – Duke School of Nursing
      The School of Nursing creates a dynamic new identity for the top-ranked institution at the heart of a thriving medical center. With architecture recalling Duke’s Collegiate Gothic Vernacular in contemporary ways, this LEED-certified instructional facility conveys a modern sensibility in keeping with a leading medical education facility.
    •  
      Atturaif Living Museum And Visitor Reception Center
      2018 – Atturaif Living Museum and Visitor Center
      Atturaif is a 17th-century earthen city, the first capital of the Saudi Kingdom, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through a highly sensitive planning and design effort, Ayers Saint Gross transformed the site’s towering mud brick architecture and defensive walls into a visitor center, living museum, and world-class cultural destination.
      2018 – Atturaif Living Museum and Visitor Center
      Atturaif is a 17th-century earthen city, the first capital of the Saudi Kingdom, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through a highly sensitive planning and design effort, Ayers Saint Gross transformed the site’s towering mud brick architecture and defensive walls into a visitor center, living museum, and world-class cultural destination.
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