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Celebrating and Connecting at Collaboration Day 2022


At Ayers Saint Gross, we pride ourselves on our collaboration and interdisciplinary practice. For that reason, we gather annually for a Collaboration Day event during which we can take a break from projects, get to know one another, share ideas, and have fun.

This year’s Collaboration Day took place in May as a hybrid event, consisting of both virtual and in-person events. Standout events included CoLabs, interactive, facilitator-led group conversations that were centered on a number of important themes facing our industry. These conversations, which were all different, tackled diverse topics like design innovation, employee ownership, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence, among others.

Another new event this year was Behind the Design Live, a virtual behind-the-scenes tour of the Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is currently under construction. The tour was led by Tim Shook, who shared details about the design process and what has made this project so unique.

Additional virtual and in-person events included project tours, happy hours, lunches, and a OneFirm meeting during which we welcomed new employees and distributed our annual Lex Schwartz Collaboration Awards. Named for long-time mentor and master collaborator Lex Schwartz, who worked at Ayers Saint Gross for more than 40 years, the awards recognize the highest level of leadership in collaboration for the betterment of our projects and clients, our firm and employees, and the communities we serve.

This year’s Lex Schwartz Collaboration Emerging Leader Award was given to Mike McGrain, who works in Landscape Architecture. Nominators for Mike described him as a “great collaborator, always willing to pitch in and help make our work better, no matter the situation” and “a valued and much appreciated peer,” who “can be trusted to lead, but also humble enough to know when they should be supporting the team.”

Another nominator said Mike “consistently approaches each challenge with professional poise, exceptional talent, and a passion and conscientiousness that inspires his colleagues. In short, he raises the bar not only for himself but for the firm at large.”

Mike McGrain

Mike McGrain

This year’s Lex Schwartz Collaboration Legacy Award was given to Amy Cuddy, director of marketing operations and organizer of Collaboration Day. Nominators said of Amy: “This individual defines collaboration as they work across teams, across geographies, across project types, and across tasks to keep Ayers Saint Gross looking our best – and doing all this with encouragement and an added dose of fun.”

Another person said, “No one in the firm works harder to advocate for collaboration, direct communication, accountability, and fun. Where would we have been without Amy jumping in to center us all during the beginning of the pandemic? … At every scale of human interaction, Amy is there for all of us.”

Amy Cuddy

For more information about this year’s Collaboration Day event, including a discussion of lessons learned while planning the hybrid event, read Amy’s article, “Fostering Collaboration in a Hybrid Environment.”

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