BALTIMORE, June 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Baltimore-based architectural, planning, design and landscape architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross begins a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary tonight with a harborside VIP celebration event at its Locust Point headquarters. Featuring speeches from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Ayers Saint Gross Principal Adam Gross and firm President Jim Wheeler, tonight's event is expected to attract more than 300 guests from across the nation, and will have the Japanese Coast Guard ship JCG Kojima as a backdrop.
Ayers Saint Gross' history of growth and innovation is impressive, and its commitment to Baltimore – as one of the city's longest continually running businesses – is palpable. Ayers Saint Gross has long been recognized as one of the nation's preeminent firms for innovative and creative higher education projects. Its academic portfolio includes more than 250 projects – campus master plans, classroom facilities, research labs and student-life buildings – at more than 140 higher learning institutions, including dozens of projects on campuses in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland.
"Ayers Saint Gross has helped to transform the way campuses across the state look and feel," said William E. "Brit" Kirwan, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. "Their pioneering and visionary plans and designs have not only dramatically improved campus life in the state, they have served as ambassadors for Maryland throughout the United States and internationally."
The firm's growth has paid off handsomely for Baltimore. Ayers Saint Gross was the first tenant in the Tide Point/Under Armour campus, and recently recommitted to a 10-year lease there. The firm employs 140 people in its three offices, with 100 of them in Baltimore, nearly all of whom are involved in numerous community enhancement projects through the firm and on their own time. For the past 12 years, Ayers Saint Gross has partnered with the Beechfield Elementary, mentored Christo Rey High School students through their job training program, and many employees are involved with Habitat for Humanity, Baltimore Design School, United Way, Center Stage, 1,000 Friends of Maryland and numerous other volunteer efforts.
"Ayers Saint Gross shines through for its exemplary commitment to the city," said Greater Baltimore Committee President and CEO Donald C. Fry. "Along with the rest of Baltimore, I congratulate the firm for its commitment to innovation, thank them for their ongoing efforts to improve the city and wish them an even more successful second hundred years."
Tonight's cocktail event serves as the first in a series of Ayers Saint Gross-hosted happenings over the next year. To recognize its centennial and its spirit of celebration, collaboration, innovation and education, the firm will also host an educational lecture in the fall and an event at the new University of Baltimore Law School – on which Ayers Saint Gross was the prime firm – in early 2013.
"Ayers Saint Gross has a long-standing devotion to the highest caliber of architecture, planning and design, and to the city of Baltimore," said firm Principal Adam Gross. "We are very pleased to have the occasion of our one-hundredth anniversary not only to celebrate our past, but to demonstrate our commitment to a better future for our community."
Founded in 1912 as Sill, Buckler & Fenhagen, one of the firm's first projects was a betting parlor at Pimlico Race Track. Over the next several decades, the firm designed many notable institutions throughout the mid-Atlantic region, including Baltimore City College, which has been a Baltimore landmark since 1928.
In 1948, Yale University graduate Richard "Dick" Ayers joined the firm. His Yale classmate Kelsey Saint came aboard soon thereafter, and helped establish the Construction Specification Institute's 16-division format, an organizational system which did for building documents what the Dewey Decimal System did for library books. It is still in worldwide use today.
Ayers' son, Richard, joined the firm in 1969 to practice with his father and, in 1984, the architects recruited Adam Gross to boost the practice's design profile and build a reputation for award-winning projects such as Johns Hopkins University's Physics and Astronomy building. In 1985, the senior Ayers retired, and the firm's name was changed to Ayers Saint Gross. Saint retired in 1987, just as Jim Wheeler – the firm's current president – joined as marketing director.
Since the firm made the strategic decision in the early 1990s to focus on campus projects, the firm's growth has been dynamic and exponential, establishing Ayers Saint Gross as an international leader in the campus planning space. Nearly simultaneous with its emergence as a force in the world of higher education, the firm expanded to include offices in Washington, D.C. and Tempe, Ariz., and became a cross-disciplinary design firm, adding planning, graphic design and landscape architecture.
"The national demographic shift that took place as the children of baby boomers entered colleges and universities in the early 1990s allowed Ayers Saint Gross to get ahead of the curve and focus on innovation for a new generation," Wheeler said. "It provided the opportunity to expand our creative horizons and show higher education establishments an exciting new direction in planning and design."
Over the past decade, the firm's portfolio has continued its dramatic expansion, with high-profile international projects, working in China, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Morocco, Vietnam, Japan, Haiti and Malaysia, as well as expanding its presence throughout the U.S.
About Ayers Saint Gross
Ayers Saint Gross is an award-winning international architectural, planning and design firm with the mission of engaging people and places to create designs that enrich the world. Focusing exclusively on work for higher education and non-profit institutions the firm's clients include over 250 colleges and universities around the world, along with public agencies and cultural facilities. Structured in a series of inter-disciplinary studios, the firm provides campus planning services and building design services for teaching and research facilities, and a wide range of student life, administrative, and support facilities. Based in Baltimore, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Tempe, Ariz., the firm is composed of an interdisciplinary staff of 140 professionals, including architects, landscape architects, planners, interior designers and graphic designers. Ayers Saint Gross has been named one of the top 50 American architecture firms by Architect magazine's ARCHITECT 50 for the second consecutive year. For more information about Ayers Saint Gross, visit www.asg-architects.com.
SOURCE Ayers Saint Gross