34 Years Transforming the Student Experience: Principal Eric Moss Retires
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, 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 Residence 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 place-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, on one of the more than 20 sites near the Inner Harbor. 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 Ayer Saint Gross.
In the 1993 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 fifth-year 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 two 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 Alice Brooks, Linnea Kessler-Gowell, 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