Monday, May 30, 2016

The Architect in the Community (5): Adam Gross

Adam Gross is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and has been a Principal at ASG, Baltimore's #1 architectural firm based on billings (BBJ 2015) sib=nce 1984. ASG's history dates back to 1912 and the architecture firm of Sill, Buckler & Fenhagen. ASG is now a 170-person Baltimore based architectural firm with offices in Washington and Phoenix, Arizona.  

Mr. Gross joined Ayers Saint 's firm as principal after studying at Syracuse University,  a stint with Richard Meier's firm and work at the Boston firm of Perry Dean Rogers & Partners.

Adam Gross, FAIA
Here the interview:

At what age did you decide to become an architect?
When I was 4 – 5 years old as I discovered the art and science of erector sets, Lincoln logs, pillow forts, and medieval castles. I then graduated to tree houses when I was 12.
What was the main reason you picked architecture as your profession?
My parent’s friends were all artists, graphic designers and writers. And while I knew that I wanted
to be an architect by age 10, I had a fantastic mechanical drawing teacher in 9 th grade, and an equally amazing architectural drawing teacher in high school. And I was fortunate to study under the great architect and educator Werner Seligman in architectural school.
What do you consider as your (or your firm’s) best project? Give one reason why?
Monticello Visitor Center, Va
The Monticello Visitor Center. Why, because it is based on Jefferson’s principles without mimicking his masterwork, because it is beautiful, because it works and because everyone I know who has ever visited it seems to love it.
What is your favorite work of architecture worldwide? Give one reason why.
Brunelleschi’s Pazzi Chapel. Because it is beautiful, timeless and poetic.
Bruneleschi Chapel and Cloistre, Florence, Italy
How would you describe the state of built architecture in Baltimore based on what has been built in the last 30 years.
Like most places, when good architects are chosen, Baltimore gets good and sometimes great buildings.
Which is your favorite neighborhood in Baltimore?
Our office. It takes a village.
What single piece of advice would you give the new Mayor regarding Baltimore’s built environment?
Rethink the structure of what guides our city’s urbanism, architecture and economic development. We have a variety of great and well intentioned “divisions” – BDC / Planning, Waterfront Partnership /Downtown Partnership, and they don’t all see eye to eye or always coordinate well. Another model is
the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) where economic development and physical development are melded into one agency. Janet Marie Smith could head up such an agency here!
.....And finish implementing the Pratt Street master plan from MLK to President Street.
....And implement Inner Harbor 2.0 including the bridge over the Harbor. ...And build the combined Arena and Convention Center.
What do you see as Baltimore’s biggest problem. Name one idea how to overcome it.
It has been its inferiority complex. In terms of our profession, this leads to our city and state not supporting its own architects, looking to bring in outside architects and planners from other states. How can we support our community and expect our citizens to give back, if we don’t support our own professionals?How to overcome it – HIRE LOCAL FIRMS.In terms of the city as a whole, I think Baltimore is now better than it has ever been thanks to a new younger generation who have made us a progressively hipper, cooler, and smarter place. Thanks to everyone in Slingshot (you know who you are) who have now gone on to do amazing things.
The predecessor firm of ASG in 1951
What would you like to be remembered for?
For being a good father and husband.
...For working in a collaborative way to build a great internationally recognized design firm which has worked to engage people and places to create designs which have enriched the world.
...For being kind.
....For working with Amber Wendland and Pastor Donte Hickman to develop an implementable plan to transform Southeast Baltimore back to the vibrant, safe and beautiful village that it once was.

One final comment of your own choice.
Not a comment from me, but a good one nonetheless: “We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate; thereby making the present comfortable and the future promising.”               Maya Angelou
This series will be continued with additional interviews of Baltimore architects and their relationship to their city and community.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

see also Citibizlist
Video "Born in Baltimore" (Charm TV)

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