Scott Simons Architects News Archive
SSA is pleased to announce two new additions to our studio: Ryan Kanteres, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Matthew Ahlberg, Architectural Intern. Ryan did his undergraduate work at University of New Hampshire and received his Masters in Architecture from the University of Oregon. He previous worked for JSA Architects in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Matthew graduated from Syracuse University and previously worked in Southern Connecticut.
SSA is pleased to have two architectural interns join us: Ruthanne Harrison, who received her Masters in Architecture in June from UMass Amherst and Dustin Tisdale, a senior in the Architectural program at the University of Maine in Augusta. Both bring strong design and graphic skills to the office.
Portland Public Library Renovation wins AIAMaine Honor Award!! At the AIAMaine Awards gathering on May 7th, SSA received one of the three top Honor Awards given. Juror Julie Snow said "The way the existing building was transformed into something that was far more transparent and added a [...] sense of vitality to the square was really powerful." Fellow juror David Salmela added, "It is really very, very beautiful." The award was presented to Scott Simons, Principal, and Austin Smith, Principal and Project Manager for the library project.
Gould Academy: Grand Opening Hanscom Hall Phase One Renovation
Saturday, May 5th was the grand opening of the initial phase renovation of Hanscom Hall at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine.
Gould’s Sanborn Family Library received the most sizable renovation with a complete refurbishment including the addition of the Lamar Family Reading Room, two new resource rooms, a new classroom, new furniture, flooring and lighting, a new array of windows on the eastern end of the library, and new student work spaces throughout. In addition, Gould’s faculty room and head of school office suite were renovated along with the entry. Built in 1933, Hanscom is the primary academic building on campus.
SSA has worked with Gould since 2007 on various projects, including a campus Master Plan. On this project, Scott Simons was the principal and Linda Braley the project manager.
COASTAL MAINE BOTANICAL GARDEN:
Friday July 15th is the Grand Opening of the new Education Center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. Designed by Scott Simons Architects and Maclay Architects of Waitsfield, Vermont, the new center is designed to offset all of its energy needs by producing electricity on site. It is only the third Net-Zero public building in New England and the second LEED Platinum building in Maine.
The super efficient building envelope, photovoltaics, triple glazed windows and doors, efficiency lighting and daylighting, meters to verify usage, rainwater collection and solar heated hot water all contribute to the energy efficient strategies.
SSA has received two preservation honor awards for the renovation of the historic Baxter Library Building on Congress Street in Portland into offices for VIA, a Maine-based national advertising agency.
The first award is a Special Preservation Honor Award from Greater Portland Landmarks.
The second award is a Rehabilitation Honor Award from Maine Preservation.
BRATTLEBORO MUSIC CENTER
2011 UNBUILT DESIGN AWARD:
SSA recently won a 2011 Unbuilt Design Award in the Professional Commercial Category for Architectural Design Excellence for the Brattleboro Music Center. The Portland Society of Architects announced the awards in mid-June.
We have completed Schematic Design for the renovation and addition to an existing brick building to house a music school and performance hall. Currently the Center is in the fundraising stage.
Scott Simons, Principal of Scott Simons Architects, is pleased to announce that Austin Smith, AIA, RLA, LEED AP and Chris Berry have become partners in the firm. Smith has been with the firm for sixteen years and has been the project manager for the firms major projects, including the Portland Public Library renovation, the Waynflete Arts Center, and the Tilton Academic Building. Berry is the firm's business and marketing manager and has been with the firm for seven years.
Dolphin Marina wins again!
For the fifth year in a row, Scott has awarded the "Best Fish Sandwich in Casco Bay Award" to Dolphin Marina in South Harpswell. Each summer Scott samples fried Haddock sandwiches from at least ten fish houses in Portland and around Casco Bay. Once again, Dolphin Marina was the hands down winner. "Maybe it's the ambience, maybe it's the view looking out over Potts Harbor, maybe the fish is just that much fresher, I don't know", Scott was heard to say. "As far as I'm concerned they make the best fish sandwich in Casco Bay."
The Waynflete Arts Center and Joan Sayward Franklin Theater has been awarded a 2010 Citation of Excellence by Learning by Design. It is one of only seven citations awarded nationally. The design team included Scott Simons, Austin Smith, and Will Gatchell. Stroudwater Construction was the Construction Manager for the project.
Institute for Civic Leadership E-Newsletter November 2009
PORTLAND- Scott Simons can walk through a building before the foundation has even been poured.
As the founder of the Portland-based Scott Simons Architects, the critical challenge of his work is not sketching a structure, but getting his clients to invest their dream -and their dollars- in his vision.
And so though his business card asserts he's an architect, Simons becomes a librarian -for a renovation of the Portland Public Library, a prep school student and a professor -for the design of the Tilton School Academic Building, and a judge and a juror -for the creation of an addition to the Knox County Courthouse.
Nine years ago, he also became an ICL Leadership Intensive Eta Class graduate, and it's that in conjunction with his commitment to not just educating himself about a project but embodying it, that has guaranteed that his firm will achieve something unheard of in the architecture industry: the goal of having every structure that they design get built.
"The transformation of our firm after the Intensive was incredible. To actually be given tools to help me organize the process; now we have a way to almost guarantee a predictable outcome. It's not 'maybe we will get there,' it's 'we will' and that's ICL's teaching," Simons says. "What we learned at ICL taught us a way to build trust in a big way with our clients."
A widening of focus from the result to the process and relationships required to achieve that result is what Simons attributes the firm's success rate to. In particular, the newfound ability to work with a stakeholder group that is as diverse as it is deep, and yes, sometimes even difficult.
"Sometimes we're the second or even third architect that's been hired for a project and we come in and we're able to design something that finally gets built," he explains. "We don't get easy projects and I like that. I like the ones that are hard to solve."
In those cases, ICL's approach of slowing down to go fast is fundamental.
For a renovation and new construction of the 15,200 square-foot Freeport Community Center, the firm needed to find a way to unite seven civic organizations with greatly differently stakeholder groups together under one roof, and through one shared entryway. But the teens and elders visiting the center were admittedly skeptical about sharing space. Through patience, active listening to find commonalities and collaboration around an idea bigger than any one person or group, Simons' team found a solution- a communal cafe where visitors of all ages found coffee and common ground.
Simons says a similar strategy was also part of the process of designing the Portland Public Library, which is currently undergoing a massive renovation. From the start, the firm had to overcome the obstacle of an eight-year gap since the design by the architect originally hired for the project's design floundered from funding challenges.
Simons started by looking at what worked with that original drawing, and then -because everyone is a stakeholder of a city library- talking and more importantly listening to the hundreds who shared their
The result was transformational. While the color scheme of the library is more natural, youth patrons suggested a need for brighter colors and so the teen section will have walls of bold greens and reds. With the rise of the immigrant population in Portland, signage throughout the library will now be in nearly a dozen languages. And because, as Simons explains "people aren't coming here for books but are coming here to interact with information and each other," the front of the building will be transparent glass that allows the building to be a part of the vibrant city square at its door.
"This library won't just look good, but it's organized to foster the interactions the city needs at this time," he says. "And because of that, it's going to be a huge success. This is going to be a really great public space and because of that, when people walk in there, they are going to think 'wow, this must be a great city.'"
Simons is quick to stress that he and his team don't take ownership for the ideas that get their designs built, rather responsibility for bringing the ideas together.
"Our job is to build beautiful buildings of substance If everyone isn't at the table, we'll have to backtrack. If you don't listen, not everyone is happy. The reason our buildings get built is not because we're good architects, but because we're good collaborators," he says. "We imagine it built. We imagine it as a real living thing. It has an intended purpose."
Collaboration isn't just with clients and communities, but with the 12-person team that Scott Simons Architects is comprised of. Knowing how transformational his own ICL experience was, Simons has since sent two other staffers -Chris Berry (Omicron Class) and Austin Smith (Rho Class) - to the Intensive and practices the program's principles in not just the marketplace, but the workplace.
The firm's open office at 75 York Street is organized horizontally rather than vertically so that everyone has an equal voice no matter the titles on their diploma or their door. The firm is also currently transitioning to a partnership structure, to encourage leadership. "The best idea comes from wherever it comes from," says Simons.
Simons says he's never felt more confident in the firm's future. With each project, their passion for process and the relationships and results that brings becomes more and more practiced and known. Over time, this has led to a steady growth of their business, and an increase in the number of clients who come through the door that are a true fit for their working style.
"I attribute so much of that to what I learned at ICL," he says. "It was like a little light goes on and you realize there is a better way to do this."
For more information about Scott Simons Architects, visit www.simonsarchitects.com.
The Tilton Academic Building received an Honors Award from the New Hampshire AIA on January 16, 2009. The design team from SSA included Scott Simons, Austin Smith, Harry Hepburn, Charles Young, Will Gatchell, and Chris Berry. The contractor was Milestone Engineering and Construction of Concord, New Hampshire.
Scott Simons Architects completed the design for Phase One of the Portland Public Library renovation project. The design concept includes a bold glass enclosure along Congress Street. The renovation project was completed in April 2010. For a virtual tour go to the Library's website: www.portland.lib.me.us
May 2008: The Tilton Academic Building has been awarded a Gold Citation in the 2008 American School & University Educational Interiors Awards Program. One of only five projects in the country to receive a gold citation, the 38,000SF building transformed the campus by creating a unified academic complex and defining a new academic quadrangle. For more information see SSA Projects: Tilton Academic Building.
Photo Credit: Justin Van Soest